Hi, just registered, not new to playing IF but I’ve never judged in a competition before or written an extended review, and I thought this year I’d give a try, for all games:
A few notes
1)I generally favor parser games over choice-based, which you might consider a bias of sorts and might account for some of the ratings.
2)The reviews are quite light on actual spoilers, so you shouldn’t worry about that if you have not played yet. I really doubt they are going to ruin your enjoyement of the games themselves.
3)Ratings are not-quite-final, as I might change a few if I have the time to replay (while still respecting the 2h limit, of course). This applies especially to low ratings, where I feel it might be my felt for missing some important aspect of the game.
4)This is so obvious that I feel I could avoid writing it, but it doesn’t hurt so: all competitors deserve praise and recognition for having actually entered the competition, so low ratings should not be seen as discouraging.
5)Comments/posts are appreciated, for example feel free to suggest that I may have missed the point or subtleties of some of the games (or, on the other hand, that I over-rated what you feel wasn’t so great a game).
Here is the first batch of thoughts on the games, in actual playing order:
JACQUELINE, JUNGLE QUEEN
[spoiler]Blurb suggested this would be a light-hearted, fun game, and this was one of the reasons I went for it first.
Overall, I did not regret it - the puzzles, writing and atmosphere felt all good enough while not being extraordinary.
There were some parser issues midgame, but nothing too critical - and having never played a QUEST game, I actually feared things might be much worse, so I’m not letting that affect m rating too much.
HOWEVER the ending was quite frustrating because of the syntax required for the final action - I had to check the walkthrough.
[spoiler]Not much to say and not much to do. It’s bleak, offering very limited choices and no real way to progress.
I can see how that’s the point and it does help immersion significantly. And the writing’s alright in its simplicity.
Still, I can’t say I enjoyed this.
Rated 4. Which might be too negative considering the bleakness IS the point, I suppose, so I might replay it a few times and perhaps change to a 5[/spoiler]
[spoiler]This was the one I liked the most of this batch - quite simply, it was atmospheric and amusing, the combination of Lovecraftian horror, cults and humour reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
It did not take itself too seriously and that worked perfectly. I recommend it.
[spoiler]Queer themes juxstaposed with a fantasy quest/heroic journey.
An interesting combination which was handled well enough - even if some of the metaphors felt a bit stretched, overall the dualism between ‘wolf’ and ‘shadow’ did fit with the fantasy setting.
Sometimes I found the text awkard to read because of fonts and colors, but the writing itself was good.
It was not fun or challenging (there are no real puzzles, after all), but it was somewhat thought-provoking, so I’d recommend it.
[spoiler]Initially, I did not put a lot of time into this (perhaps 20 minutes out of the maximum of2 hours).
I felt that while writing was good and the letter-reading was made to fit well enough with the main character day-to-day life and relationships, the puzzles themselves could have been introduced somewhat better and more clues could have been provided.
Replaying a few times with hint mode on made me appreciate the puzzles a bit more, but still not enough to call them great or make me truly understand the code behind the last ones.
People who enjoy cracking secret codes or word/number riddles might get much more enjoyement out of this than me though - so do give it a try if you’re into that.
AND YET IT MOVES
[spoiler]The historical premise sounded decent, but I found the execution fairly poor.
The English was imperfect in some places - lack of capitalization at the start of some sentences for example, and there was also an out-of-place joke, considering the serious subject matter.
NPC behaved oddly: they accepted any item (which I assume means you can get stuck by giving them items required later), and if you talked to them a second time you would only say hello to them, with no reaction.
The puzzles felt flat and boring, not really requiring significant thought. I supose that might be unfair since they were not really presented as puzzles but rather as “things to do” - like buying groceries - but still…
One bug that stood out to me: at the game’s finale, someone knocked at my open door and I had to close then reopen it to finish the game.