Tito's IF Comp 2022 reviews

I don’t have any standardized format for my reviews. I’m thinking most of them will be just a few lines about how much I enjoy each entry. I don’t like to write summaries or descriptions because I prefer to begin each game without reading anything about it. Respect to all the authors; I admire each of you for taking the time to create these entries.


4 Edith + 2 Niki by fishandbeer

The descriptions in this game are extremely brief, to the degree that I never actually pictured anything in my head. The endings seem to be intended to be humorous, but to me, it felt like there was some sexism/hate speech going on. My recommendation is to play it for yourself, as it is so quick, you have nothing to lose by looking into what it might be saying.


The Absence of Miriam Lane by Abigail Corfman

Previously, I had only played Abigail Corfman’s 2016 IF Comp Entry about fighting vampires at McDonald’s. However, my memories of that experience along, with my enjoyment of this game, have me interested at looking into the rest of their work.

This is a very easy game to navigate, which is nice, because as I started to learn more about what was going on, I did a lot of backtracking. However, the story rewards you for trying different things and revisiting previously explored locations without being so unwieldly that you have to take notes (well–ok, I did take one or two). I got an inconclusive ending, but I’m more than happy to try again now that I have some idea what to focus on. It has a slightly surreal feel, but it never felt like it was too vague or that the author hadn’t thought it all through. Recommended.

P.S. I had to do some searches to find details that I didn’t see in-game to be able to solve one particular puzzle. I am curious to know if the author intended the reader to do research out-of-game, or if I missed some of the clues.


An Alien’s Mistaken Impressions of Humanity’s Pockets by Andrew Howe

Here was a quick and easy text adventure with a somewhat whimsical feel to it. There are several puzzles and they all have in-game explanations for how to solve them. Unfortunately, some readers will find that too many grammatical errors were left in. This is not something I would usually point out, but in this case, it’s excessive. The amount of run-on sentences alone will be too much for some, as they occur in nearly every paragraph. At one point, the author spells the name of the main character differently for several lines. I appreciated the information included on the credits page, but the impression I was left with was that this entry was written quickly and that no edits were done.

One other note: the zip file includes music and photos used in the game, but does not come with a file to be installed. Instead, it includes a link to play the game online.


Admiration Point

by Rachel Helps

This is a very smartly written IF. I was so glad when I finished this game that I hadn’t read any part of its description–it might have influenced my choices. As it was, I scored a 5 out of 5! However, I think I arrived at an early ending and missed a lot more of the story, so I will play again. BE SURE to read the FAQs as well as the influences page. Did you know that the first choice-based game book was a 1930 publication that let you make decisions about careers and relationships for three different women???


Am I My Brother’s Keeper? by Nadine Rodriguez

This is an entry that I enjoyed playing and replaying, and I intend to play again. I found it to be a bit atmospheric and mysterious, and it left me wanting to know more. I would even describe it as “fast-paced,” as it drew me in so quickly I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Nadine Rodriguez is able to indicate a lot with just a few words; she keeps it simple, and her work is all the more effective for it.



Low-Key Learny Jokey Journey by Andrew Schultz

This just wasn’t for me. I was only able to solve a few puzzles on my own. I used hints and referred to the walkthrough, but I still struggled. I expected to do well on a game built around rhyming words, but I couldn’t understand the logic to finding the specific word needed for each puzzle.



A session with Madeline
by Robert Goodwin

I enjoyed this one a lot. It was atmospheric and slightly creepy. The gameplay centers around your character asking questions to a girl who is begging for help. You have to guess the right things to ask, and the NPC responds. The author has developed an impressive system in which a lot of what I tried got fairly relevant responses. There are no content warnings, as that would spoil important details, but there are moments that some players may find disturbing.


The Thick Table Tavern



This was a pleasant enough game. You play as a bartender who is saving up money for a goal of the player’s choosing. You interact with customers and mix drinks in a mini-game. It has a colorful and well-themed UI that makes use of lots of little tricks to add detail.

The story is divided up into days, and depending what you choose, you may see different scenarios on different days, my favorite being the visit with the elderly couple. However, I found that there were a lot of repetitive tasks that never varied. I expected the drink-mixing mini game to get more complicated over time, but the only change is to add a timed element. Even when I increased the difficulty, it still seemed almost too easy. However, if you really enjoy mixing the drinks, you can opt to play an Arcade mode that just focuses on challenges involving the mini game with no story running through it.

It is a fairly upbeat story with comical characters and playful scenarios. However, I do have to warn readers about the amount of grammatical errors. They were present in every passage, which just broke up the flow too many times. Some proofreading and editing could help improve the rhythm immensely.


The Thirty Nine Steps

A tale of murder, travel and adventure

Graham Walmsley

I enjoyed The Thirty Nine Steps. You play as a man trying to evade capture as he moves from London to Scotland. It is fairly tense, with well-written details, and is easy to navigate. I thought I had made some good choices, considering how successfully I overcame each obstacle. However, on a second playthrough, I made different choices, but the results only altered slightly. This makes me feel like my choices might not have mattered, which takes away from the satisfaction I felt on the first playthrough. I also wouldn’t mind if the story was expanded on a little more. It’s nice that this game can be played without too much time investment, but I would be willing to spend more time on it if other scenarios were added.


No One Else Is Doing This by Lauren O’Donoghue

This was something different. It is a timed text adventure in which you are going around a neighborhood asking for donations. You have to pick which houses to approach, and then make choices about what to say. You also have to manage restroom breaks, and warm up from the chilly weather occasionally. Can you raise your target goal of funds?

SPOILER: It’s pretty discouraging. It’s really hard to get someone to answer the door, let alone hear you out long enough to convince them to join the organization. Maybe the author has had bad experiences with community service projects, but it seems like the game was made to convince you not to get involved.


Nose Bleed by Stanley W. Baxton

This one made me squirm. It is short and economical, but still descriptive enough to tap into a fear that nightmares are made of. It uses some clever effects to enhance the repulsion, but the writing is what makes this entry so transporting. Except–who can I recommend it to? Considering that most of us who enjoy text adventures are able to place ourself in the game so effectively, what would motivate someone to want to go through this???

As someone who gets stains on their clothes at work on a regular basis, I connected very closely with the anxiety of a highly noticeable mess turning everyone’s attention towards you. I also relate to the feeling that everything you try to do to cover it up and move on just makes it worse.


Thanks for the review!

The Thirty Nine Steps is deliberately designed so that you always overcome the obstacles and get a “good” ending. You’ve got a lot of choices about how to do that: be sneaky, be fighty, find a disguise. Your choice affects the way the story is told, but not whether or not you’re successful.

Whether or not that’s a good design choice is a fair question! But it was deliberate.


Inside by Ira Vlasenko

In this game, you play as a witch inside the mind of another witch, and many of your choices consist of things to say to your host. It was interesting playing as the main character but existing within the NPC at the same time.

Over the course of the story, you are trying to escape from some unknown place you have found yourselves in. There are some light puzzles, but I would expect every player will navigate them easily.

What I liked: Written in Ink, the game makes it easy to progress, make decisions, and eventually replay it. I feel like the majority of the games I’ve tried for this year’s comp so far have been in a click-the-link style, which I am really preferring. It’s great for when you don’t feel like spending a long time on one passage.

What I wish were different: I always enjoy it when I can experience different content by playing the game differently. On a second playthrough, I made a different choice at nearly every opportunity, but almost everything unfolded the same way. Also, I would have liked to have more characterization. However, for readers who just want to get to the action, this story moves along at a brisk pace.


Blood Island by Billy Krolick

I think this might have been the most entertaining entry from the 2022 comp I’ve played up to this point. The premise is pure Tito Valenz catnip: you play as an entrant on a reality dating show–set on an island, yabish–with a selection of hot singles being stalked by a killer with a cake knife (not a spoiler–the cake knife appears very, very early). The scenes flowed into each other effortlessly with no wasted moments. I was completely engaged, start to finish. When I was done, I immediately played through two more times to look for different results. I do wish there was more variety as far as what you can make happen–especially since there is HEAVY emphasis that EVERY choice matters (not all do). This is also another choice-based story, and you know how I much I enjoy that convenience. It’s a longer game, but the mechanics help it breeze right along. I also appreciated that the author is clearly a student of the producer manipulation these shows are known for: when you take another character on a date, there is a seafood lunch set out, but of course, the couple is NEVER allowed to actually eat the food. That’s for display only! So I will be rating this one highly and I give it my recommendation. Unless you don’t care for dating sims. Or horror trope deconstruction. Or slasher films. Or really, just talking about horror movies in general.


Glimmer by Katie Benson

This game is so short, that I feel like describing any part of it will spoil half the experience. It’s one that goes so quick that players should just take the time to try it for themselves. I will say that it is emotional; the author is effective at describing multiple sentiments. I would trust this author enough after reading this to try other pieces they release.


Let Them Eat Cake by Alicia Morote

For a while, this game appears to be a very straightforward quest to gather ingredients for baking. I got pretty far just using common sense, and since I hadn’t read the description, I didn’t know what genre it actually was. When I discovered another layer to the proceedings, it came hard out of left field. I didn’t make it to the end, so on my second playthrough, I was more conservative–which means that I didn’t make any choices to intentionally upset the other characters. That worked. Then came the climactic finale. It was pretty satisfying–I would like to keep replaying just to see all the different possibilities in this scene alone. Also, I enjoyed going back to make bad choices, because even though it can cause the game to end early, some of the best moments came on these paths. And a third reason to keep replaying is that you can unlock “bonus endings.” There is a sentence that appears when this happens saying, “Seems like there’s more of these [bonus endings] than actual endings, doesn’t it.” I would recommend Let Them Eat Cake. My only wishes are that you could 1) save/load a game, and 2) have the game keep track of the endings you’ve found (the website will keep a count, but resets if when you leave the page).


The Tin Mug by Alice E. Wells, Sia See and Jkj Yuio

Here is a short children’s story where you make choices to guide a sentient mug over one afternoon. I immediately responded to this work, because even though I grew up in the U.S., I had one book that was a collection of short British stories. They had a style different to the other fairy tales and picture books I owned. Reading The Tin Mug was like finding one of those stories I hadn’t read yet. It recreates the experience perfectly.


Graveyard Strolls by Adina Brodkin

This is one of the games that require you to drag a choice over some text to proceed. I can see why this format might be preferrable for an author, as it allows a little more opportunity to add to the story without additional lines of text visible until you line up your choice. For now, I still prefer clicking links, but either choice-based format is still great when you’re not up for a parser game.

In this story, your character literally heads to the graveyard, and if you use common sense, you’ll meet up with several unhappy haunts. It’s clear that you’re meant to help the ghosts. However, as a series of encounters, they get repetitive. Also, the scenes get less substantial as the game goes on, creating an anti-climactic feel. My impression of Graveyard Strolls is that it would be more effective if the story focused on helping one ghost–possibly assigned by one of your choices–and put everything it has into that one vignette. It might help if each situation had a different goal, but even then, I think it would be hard to add a follow-up that flows naturally after the success of helping the first ghost. Another option might be to start with a brief encounter, and have them become increasingly demanding, to build toward the final high-stakes scenario.


i wish you were dead. by Sofía Abarca

This was harsh. I’m very glad I don’t have this kind of drama going on in my life (for the moment…). Kind of like another entry from this year, Nose Bleed, this story is just too effective. I actually started to feel uneasy and a little sick. The writing skillfully puts you in a tempest of toxic finger-pointing. But who’s responsible? Suffice to say that this one stressed me out. Kudos fo Ms. Abarca for structuring the story so that the exchange goes just long enough to let you fully sink into stomach-burning misery, but then wrapping it up before it splinters your spirit completely. After all, you can’t play through more IF Comp entries once you’ve lost the will to sit upright.

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