Stian's IFComp 2020 reviews

Amazing Quest
by Nick Montfort

This “game” has already been thoroughly dissected on the forum, and there is not much I can add in terms of content information. I did manage to play it early on, before having read the dissection. At that point I just though it was really boring. Now I understand that it’s postmodernist art.


You Will Thank Me as Fast as You Thank a Werewolf
by B.J. Best

Algorithmically generated based on the author’s previous prose, this work does occasionally resemble poetry. While I do consider generating coherent text an interesting technical challenge, I’m rarely able to find meaning in its output, and this was no exception.

Mother Tongue
by Nell Raban

This was rather nice actually, though not, as one could have expected, a good way to learn a new language. Rather, it’s a discussion on cultural identity and the value of the mother tongue among second generation immigrants. It’s simple and does not go particularly deep, but still quite effective.

1 Like

by Tom Charles Bair III

The subtle humour here is brilliant, starting with the tagline “where the imagination stretches as far as limitations can reach”. I also appreciated the strangeness of the vastly diverse experiences I was subjected to, but overall found it had too many choices and too much repetition.


Stoned Ape Hypothesis
by James Heaton

Renowned comic book author Alan Moore has written a book called “Voice of the Fire” that similarly to this game depicts evolution from a subjective perspective, starting out with a primitive language that develops through the narrative. The Moore book, however, is based on a more common hypothesis of evolution and a much heavier read. Also, it does not have minigames.


Move On
by Serhii Mozhaiskyi

An extremely short action thriller choice game, Move On demands you figure out its rather neat trick if you want to survive. The little writing there is is good. Apart from that, it doesn’t offer much.

1 Like

You Couldn’t Have Done That
by Ann Hugo

This story, for it is a story much more than a game, utilises choice in a way I have not seen before in IF, allowing the reader to reflect on real life agency in difficult situations. I found this surprising and remarkably well done, but also emotionally challenging.


Quest for the Sword of Justice
by Damon L. Wakes

I actually had to consult the other reviews before writing this to see if I had missed out on anything substantial. I turns out I probably had not. In essence, it’s a cutely made RPG parody that you may or may not understand is a parody. I did not get it, but I did find some of the dialogue funny.

Stand Up / Stay Silent
A Fable by Y Ceffyl Gwyn

A thinly veiled expression of activism, Stand Up / Stay Silent is a sci-fi parable for Black Lives Matter. While I certainly agree with the message, I did not find it notably interesting or effective as IF. The parallel of the story and the choices was too obvious to offer any deeper meaning.

(A very late) thank you for the helpful and favorable review! I incorporated the changes right after I read your review, which feels like forever ago. Thanks again for reviewing Desolation!

1 Like

The Pinecone
by Joseph Pentangelo

The Pinecone is a very quick piece of IF with a few branches, all of which are related to goatlore. It does not seem to carry any deeper meaning, but is somewhat imaginative and slightly entertaining.


The Cave
A Journey of Self-Discovery by Neil Aitken

Fumbling rather randomly around in the dark, you will experience a lot of repetition in The Cave, but not much in the way of self-discovery. Your goal is to get out, and underway you get some spells, abilities, and improved stats. I’m not sure how these affect your chances, but they probably somehow do. I’m also not sure how I managed to get out of the cave in the end, but somehow I did.

Tavern Crawler
by Josh Labelle

Quite humorous and really well polished, Tavern Crawler is a choice based role playing story that works remarkably well. The author has managed to craft a work that is equally parts story and game, and where the RPG elements play to the strengths of choice IF and vice versa. The storylines are intricately and reasonably structured, and your early character choices allow for different methods of overcoming your obstacles. Especially good were the variety of choices. There is never really any choice that feels wrong or right in terms of story progression, and everything brings you forward, at least somewhere. To experience a fun story with Tavern Crawler, you can’t go wrong whatever you do.


by Lei

The story in this choice IF is mostly linear, with only minor details determining which of the endings you eventually receive. As such, it’s not terribly exciting in terms of interactivity. On the other hand, it is really well written; the main character and the world described are both quite unique and soundly developed. The abilities and operations of the protagonist are particularly interesting and could actually be an excellent starting point for developing great and fun puzzles. I would certainly love to play a five hour parser game based on Doppeljobs.


by Ima

The purpose of this short choice IF seems to be simple moral education. Following anything other than the most virtuous path will quickly end the game and encourage you to try again. Although I’m not strictly opposed to this – it was, after all, a groundbreaking element of Ultima IV in its day – it feels here too simplistic, which undermines its educational value. There is also some polish lacking in Equal-librium: for one, the blurb contains several typos, and at some point I even got the error message I can't run the macro 'text-type' because it doesn't exist.

1 Like

Ulterior Spirits
by E.J. Holcomb

One of the reasons I love IF is that I can play it on any old computer. Ulterior Spirits, not so much… Everything was so sluggish on my laptop that it was impossible to play. The little graphics I saw looked nice though, and the blurb reads like a far above average episode of Doctor Who.

At Night
by Oscar

This choice IF seems to be unfinished. It has clearly been translated, as there still are words in Spanish throughout the game, and it’s rather riddled with typos. From what I could gather, the battles with demons are the central element here, but those felt like playing Amazing Quest again: it doesn’t really matter what you choose because it’s all random. Perhaps it’s actually not the case here, but I was unable to find any logic in them. Designwise, At Night focusses a lot on using sounds for navigating in the darkness. This is a neat feature, but I’m afraid it didn’t help me much with the demons either.

1 Like

The Shadow in the Snow
by Andrew Brown

A minimalist but effectively scary horror choice IF, The Shadow in the Snow features good writing and a moody soundtrack (albeit with slightly cheesy synthesizer sounds). Even after ten playthroughs I still wasn’t able to survive though, despite following what was apparently clued to be the right path.

I’m very sorry about the English translation, I even tried to use a grammar checker, thanks to that some of the players have not noticed it too much.

Another thing that you have reminded me of is having tried to make a game with a story, not a story with some game component …

A basic aspect to advance is to play the mini game of battles with the devils, for this it is necessary to use headphones to determine the origin of the attack.

Regarding the implementation of the battle, it seems well assumed by the players, it has not been clear to me where the confusion comes from, it would be interesting to be able to improve and that nobody has to suffer🤪

The game has an end! He would not be able to make a game without end. It would be too unfair even for a retro gamer like me. :joy::joy::joy:

I’m glad to see that the game is hated and loved, I think depending on age and preferences Narrative over game or game over Narrative.

A big greeting and I really appreciate your time, for future games I would love to have your contributions.

1 Like

Thanks for your comments, Óscar!

I think it is very important to get proofreading, preferably by a native speaker, for any type of IF.

The battles were very confusing for me. I could hear that sounds came sometimes from the left and sometimes from the right, but no matter what I chose, I lost.