Tabitha's SeedComp! 2024 reviews

In the spirit of encouraging more conversation about this year’s crop (ha) of SeedComp! games, I am commencing a review thread! I likely won’t have the time/energy to review every game, but I’ll do what I can.

Full disclosure: I have a game in the comp, but to the best of my knowledge that has not influenced my opinion of the other games!


Yay! I was hoping to see your thread pop up!


1 4 the $ by Charm Cochran

This game is dark and heavy (mind the content warnings!)—it’s not a feel-good game by any means, but it is very, very good. Charm has done an excellent job combining the three seeds the game takes inspiration from into a cohesive and meaningful story.

First, I’ll quickly mention the UI, which is well done. Color-coding differentiates links that add more text to the current page from links that advance the story; website and chat-log text mimics those format; and the page backgrounds have different colors and occasional light animation that subtly punctuates the text.

Now, on to the content…

850 words of spoiler-filled analysis ahead!

The protagonist, who I’ll mostly refer to as “you” because the game is in second person, feels like a recognizable character type—neurodivergent, unemployed, isolated, lonely, listless, and self-loathing. You subsist on energy drinks, barely bothering to eat, and constantly put yourself down in your thoughts. You’re desperate for connection of any sort, needing someone to accept you, to love you. Which makes you the perfect target for this promise by the latest crypto fad:

Community Awaits. Our user base is thousands strong. Once you buy in, you will have access to our private Discord…

There isn’t a choice for the player here; the protagonist will always buy in. Having been cruelly bullied by an online community in the past, you now know to be careful—not to vet the community, but to shape yourself into whatever you need to be to fit in.

As you prepare to craft your intro message, you reach the end of your energy drink supply and are given the choice to ignore your thirst or settle for water, which you hate. If you choose the latter…

the tap begins to belch out brackish water, with little solid pieces floating in it. … The water itself is murky, somewhere between brown and black[.]

Despite how disgusting this sounds, this is another point at which the player has no choice—you must drink the mold-infested water.

You’re prepared for it to taste awful, but it’s actually the sweetest, most decadent syrup you’ve ever had. … You have been missing this all your life.

And there’s the game’s central metaphor. The protagonist is an isolated person clutching desperately at whatever community will have them, no matter how ugly, and in their desperation they’re even willing to embrace the ugliness, to unite with it, in order to feel like they belong. Because belonging, feeling wanted and loved, is a need just as much as water is.

As your crypto journey continues, you also find no food in the house but a moldy apple, which you’ve given the choice to eat or not. The mold situation escalates; it begins whispering to you, telling you you’re special and deserving of love. The crypto situation escalates too—you’re suddenly rich! But when the currency’s value drops dramatically overnight, causing a mass exodus from the community, Xisor, its inventor and the owner of the Discord server, instructs those who remain:

Find a forum or a messageboard where GlisterCoin has not been mentioned recently. Make a post talking about [it]. … Link back to the website, bring more people into the fold. Do not engage with replies. Then go look at the sky for a while, and wait for your new family to pour in.

The mold and the community both make promises, but neither actually values you; they just want to use you for their own benefit.

There are three possible endings. You reach one by continually embracing the mold, and in this ending the protagonist heeds Xisor’s instructions, posting the message and then going up to the roof. At this point the mold fully takes you over, having used you as an incubator and now bursting out of you so that it can spread—and this makes you happy:

You feel the beginning of something grand, something larger than you.

You open your arms to welcome it.

As you cease to be, the voice of the mold assures you that you’re loved. Becoming its vessel is how you’ve found a sense of purpose and belonging for your life.

In contrast, the two other endings both have the protagonist despairing. If you haven’t fully embraced the mold, it doesn’t have the same effect on you:

Something in you squirms, trying to convince you that you are not alone, but you know that it’s a lie.

In this ending, when Xisor’s mandate to spread the crypto word comes, you can’t bring yourself to fulfill it, and you hate yourself for that, because “you are failing your community”. The mold slowly kills you at your desk while it bemoans what you could have been.

In the third ending, the protagonist directly confronts and rejects the mold’s whispers, and we see a version of them that experiences a burst of hope:

You decide here and now to get things under control. Tomorrow, you will hire a cleaning service. Tomorrow, you will go grocery shopping and eat a real meal. Tomorrow, you will make friends in the community. You will do better. You will be better.

The next day, though, the cryptocurrency’s crash arrives and sends you plummeting, feeling worse about yourself and your life than before. You commit suicide by jumping off your building’s roof, the mold mocking you as you fall.

From an outsider’s view, all three endings are bad for the protagonist; either the mold ends them, or their suicidal ideation does. While in the first one they at least go out happy, we’re left to wonder how many other people will end up mold-infected as a result of their actions, and how many will be lured into the crypto scheme. The only actual benefit has been to Xisor and the mold.

I don’t know what to say to end this except… oof. That’s what I call a trenchant commentary.


Hey, thanks for the review, and especially for the thorough analysis!


Today’s review is both shorter and more of an actual review!

Dungeons & Distractions by E. Joyce

This game is a great implementation of Pinkunz’s “AD&D” seed, with a supernatural twist that adds another layer of charm to the “friends playing D&D” setup. I love this kind of game (social resource management? social roguelikes? Thank you @Kastel and @cchennnn and everyone else who chimed in to help me brainstorm a potential term), and I imagine that it’s tricky to make, so kudos to E. Joyce for continually pulling it off!

The setup is compelling; the PC is a newbie DM with anxiety who’s running her first game for a group of people she mostly doesn’t know very well (all of whom, including her, are neurodivergent). This requires a balancing act between accommodating your own needs and those of the players, figuring out their personalities as you go along and guessing at how best to engage them or help them feel comfortable. Your girlfriend is also a player, and you need to navigate your interactions with her as well—do you tell her when her backseat-DMing bugs you, or just grin and bear it?

I always found there to be a good variety of choices, without an obvious “best” one, and after failing to successfully finish the session on my first playthough, I enjoyed replaying to try for the best outcome. After achieving it I still replayed a few more times to hunt down the other “failure” endings. Often in this type of game I find collecting all the endings as fun as winning!

I do have two bits of critique, one being that the contrast between the text and the background isn’t great on light mode (dark mode is much better, except for the links). The other is regarding the way you can check in to see how engaged or disengaged the players are; “Look around the table to see how everyone is doing” is something you can do any time, but I didn’t clock the purpose of it right away, and sometimes its description of what someone was doing contradicted what the passage text had just said.

Despite those quibbles, this game is a treat that I certainly recommend!


Sonnet by TaciturnFriend

This is a short little game with nice styling. I enjoyed the setup—with several entangled relationships at a single’s Valentine’s Day party, some sort of drama is bound to go down… It’s a very effective use of Amanda’s “reverse a poem” seed, with the dramatic longing of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 128” recast to a modern-day setting where the PC is able to hit on his hot, married, harpsichord-playing acquaintance the moment he’s alone with her.

The game has some nice mechanics; informational text on the various characters is given via dialogue box pop-ups (although one issue with these is that, while the game lets you increase the font size—which is good, because the default is quite small—the text within the dialogue boxes doesn’t change.) The story is divided into parts (poetically called “first quatrain,” etc.), and at the end of each you can either continue the game or restart from the beginning of that part.

This is especially handy once you reach the final quatrain. Up to this point the game is mostly linear, but once the climax hits there are many possible variations. This is where the game really excels at reversing the poem, as the sheer existence of so many possible endings subverts the poem’s near-devout obsession with its subject. While there’s clearly only one outcome that would satisfy the poem’s speaker, in the game you might get cozy with Aline, the object of your affections, OR end up kissing your friend Henry, OR reject Aline after she kisses you. Even if you do take the opportunity to get it on with Aline, the last line of that ending is, “it’s hard to see this bringing lasting joy. But for now, it’ll do.”

Also, it was just fun to see how differently things could go within these few minutes of the story.


Thanks so much for this - very much appreciated. I’m thinking when the comp’s over and I have time I’ll do a general overhaul of this one in the light of feedback (and getting a bit of distance from it myself) - I’m adding the dialogue box styling to the list (and the main font in general). But mostly just great to hear the main intentions landed.


Thanks for the review, and I’m glad you enjoyed the game!

Well, I’ve had a lot of practice at this point! Sometimes I feel like kind of a one-trick pony, but I’m glad there are people who continue to enjoy the thing I’m doing.

This is good to know! After Noah brought up missing the achievements board from SLD, I was thinking about adding one in the post-comp release, but most of the achievements would be finding all the endings (most of which are some manner of “failure” ending) and I wasn’t sure if that would be fun for people.

I was aware of this when I was writing but kind of hoping no one would notice, lol. I’m contemplating what would be a better way to do this—maybe either sending the player to that passage every X passages (to make it sort of clearly a separate moment from any of the other vignettes) rather than letting them check it whenever, or just checking which passage the player came from and leaving out anyone who’s stated to be doing something else in that passage. Although often the person whose mental state you most need to know about is the one who’s doing something disruptive at the moment, so that might make it not that helpful…

The CSS was the very last thing I did and trying to slap together two color schemes at the last minute was probably a mistake, so oops, I will definitely fix that.