Well, I don’t know if you can really call them reviews; they’re more initial reactions. They’re not the most in-depth or analytical of game-related writings. But they are a thing I have been doing for the past few years and, shockingly, I am also doing them this year. Exciting times.
[spoiler]An interesting idea with somewhat unpolished execution; it’s littered with spelling errors, and when using the mirror, I hit an accidental dead end with no links out and had to restart. The hybrid choice/parser interface feels a tad clunky, though that may be because I’m not used to it. I’ve played graphical games with this sort of interface, but with text it just doesn’t feel as smooth.
I feel the game would also have benefited from some way to kill specific amounts of time between guard cycles (along the lines of a “wait X seconds” command), rather than having to perform a handful of actions over and over until time runs out.
It’s not a bad game; I do like the concept of both the setting and the story. But I do think it could have used some more work.[/spoiler]
Venus Meets Venus
I don’t know what to say about this; mundane relationship drama is pretty much my least favorite subject for fiction ever, and that makes it hard for me to judge how well it executes what it sets out to do. I’m also not wild about the lack of actual interactivity or the switching between regular prose and semi-poetic all-lowercase lines with excessive line breaks, but the subject matter pretty much guaranteed out of the gate that it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea. So… sorry about that.
Jesse Stavro’s Doorway
[spoiler]I went into this game with high hopes. I’m always a fan of time travel, and the '60s/'70s counterculture flavor is a fun addition; plus, the cover art is great. All in all, the story is entertaining and the worldbuilding is intriguing, but there are some significant flaws as well, including frontloaded info-dumping, shallow implementation, some roughness with both writing mechanics and programming, and an ending which resolves nothing. Unless there was another ending I didn’t find, in which case I retract my criticism on that front (but feel that the alternate ending should be mentioned in the walkthrough, which I consulted to see if there was anything that could be done in the last scene besides the obvious).
All in all, I really wanted to like this game, but I ended up frustrated by it at least as often as I was having fun. It has a lot of style and a lot of cool ideas, but it felt sort of like a chunk of a larger story that ran out of time before it could be finished, much less polished.[/spoiler]
This game is very, very old-school, and it’s a tongue-in-cheek take on a genre I’m not an especially big fan of, but I did enjoy its sense of humor in places (“A crazed hand has scrawled, ‘TYPE ABOUT OR CREDITS.’ You don’t remember writing this” and “>x spoon / It’s an ordinary spoon. >x fork / You have your doubts about the fork” made me grin) and found only one significant bug, which was not game-breaking. The looping maps were confusing, but I did get the hang of them eventutally. I think the game benefited (as far as my goodwill was concerned) by my having very low expectations for it, but I found it at least somewhat entertaining, if not particularly innovative.
[spoiler]I confess to not having played the original Hugo’s House of Horrors, so there’s context I’m missing here, but I gather that it’s doing the video game creepypasta thing–a familiar and fairly harmless game glitched and distorted, suddenly full of disturbing content that wasn’t supposed to be there, a la Pokemon Ghost Black.
It’s a pretty creditable entry in the genre–the fact that it is an actual game that you are actually playing gives it an advantage over most video game creepypasta I’ve read, since there’s no narrator interposing between you and the game, telling you, in the most heavy-handed of fashions, how absolutely mind-blowingly terrifying you should find it. That said, the narrator of the game itself tends to keep the player at arms’ length; the tone is too arch for the game to ever become really creepy. The ironic, self-conscious use of outdated slang and compound words such as “slimepliances” and “glitchblood” is reminiscent of MS Paint Adventures, which has its charm but is not exactly the eeriest thing. Despite the ironic distancing and my lack of familiarity with the source material, however, I did find the game entertaining.[/spoiler]
Fifteen Minutes centers around a time travel puzzle which I found very difficult and with little to no room for error, and I got expelled and experienced paradox paralysis a number of times before finally succeeding–with, I must admit, some help from the walkthrough. Still, it’s a well-constructed puzzle, the game works smoothly, and it’s funny. Despite my fairly low frustration threshold, I’d consider this one of the better games I’ve played so far.
Milk Party Palace
This game is definitely that particular sort of ironic pop-culture-laden humor written by an American man in his mid- to late twenties that’s particularly common on the internet, and I suspect how much you enjoy it will depend heavily on how much that style of humor appeals to you. I’m kind of on the fence about it, myself. There were parts of the game that charmed me–I particularly liked the part where you have to win a gallon of milk by playing a particularly byzantine board game where the options eventually descend into, literally, “right choice,” “wrong choice,” and “other wrong choice”–but I was not sufficiently charmed to try starting over when, during the endgame, I hit a screen where clicking the only link available did nothing. So I suppose I’ll never know if the protagonist’s brush with milk-obsessed celebrity comes to anything or whether he remains trapped in his mundane My Crappy Apartment/Job-type life.