Timewalker Reviews PunyJam #4

PunyJam, a competition of games written in the PunyInform library, reached its submission deadline on the 17th. I’ve never reviewed games on this forum before, and the competition only had an (undeservingly low) six submissions, so I thought this would be a great way to begin reviewing games.

The theme of the competition was as follows:

At the start of the game, or within the first five moves, the player gets an indication that something isn’t quite right, or even that something is terribly wrong.

Every game was, at minimum, an enjoyable experience. As much as I wished to be stringent, I don’t think any of these games deserve a score less than a 6. No game had any game-breaking or frustrating bugs or implementation choices, and every game had engaging, well-crafted prose and puzzles. Perhaps it was the library or perhaps it was the smaller scope of the event, but this competition clearly self-selects for the best of writers.

I will be writing brief reviews for each game in this thread over time (I plan to write at least one per day, as voting ends on the 31st). I’ve only dipped my toes into each game, but I’ve loved browsing the Discord for behind-the-scenes information on each game. I encourage everyone on this forum to play these games and potentially even join in next year, so we can have even more submissions.

Without much ado, here are the games that I’ve reviewed so far:

  • Shaka! by Olaf Nowicki

Shaka! by Olaf Nowicki

Although I’ve never had the misfortune of conjuring up this dream, high school drama shows tell me that rolling up to school naked is a common nightmare among students. Olaf Nowicki’s Shaka! recontextualises this trope for a corporate setting. You show up to work one day, agonising at the fact that you’re quite underdressed for Hawaiian shirt day. One X SELF later, however, you realise you’re also woefully underdressed for even a standard workday – you’ve somehow managed to show up to work in just your underpants.

This is followed by a series of hijinks and makeshift costumes as you attempt to avoid a social faux pas. It’s a comical premise, and Nowicki fulfils that potential with comical puzzles set in a comical office, reminiscent of works like Office Space and The Office. Although it’s not as mordant of a satire as those works, I don’t think it needs to be. The game is genuinely funny, and the tone carries the whole way through.

What captivates me most about this game is its ability to build a rich, immersive world despite its brevity. This is certainly the easiest game in this jam, but that’s a product of how intuitive and logical the puzzles are. There’s little interaction with NPCs and scarce items in this world, but what there is feels coherent and adds to the worldbuilding. My only qualm with this game is that there isn’t enough of it in this game; a few red herrings and items here and there would add a lot to the experience.

Overall, this is a game that really puts the Puny in PunyJam. It’s small in scope, but it delivers exactly what it aims to do. Both the narrative and the puzzles are hilarious and well-crafted, and elements feel seamlessly integrated. I love that this was the first game I reviewed in the jam, because it’s the perfect introductory game for the jam.

Fruit score: 3 coconuts.


Wow, thanks for the super nice review! :blush:

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