Top Ten list(s)/median scores?

Here’s my top ten for what it’s worth. This isn’t speculation or number crunching, which I find fascinating too, so do look in Autumn’s topic!

I just realized I’d never done this, because top ten lists are always tricky–they feel exclusionary, and you feel like you should say “Oh, this just missed” or “Oh, that just missed.” And I know I feel I should just let a few more games in, and a few more, until, say, all but ten are mentioned, and that feels cruel. Also, if you only played 20 games, it can feel exclusionary to give a top ten. But I hope people find this interesting to compare/contrast.

My ratings tend to be bell-curvey. My median and mode were both 7. (7 had 19 votes.) I wound up giving a mean of 6.358, or 6 + 24/67. I eliminated my own game, as well as Thanatophobia and Lottery Ticket, which I enjoyed, and I also appreciate the authors helping me out with some last-minute stuff in my own entries. I think last year my ratings were slightly below 6.

At any rate I feel a definite Lake Wobegon effect: it felt like 50 entries really should be top-half, but that’s mathematically impossible to have them all there! So there will be disappointments from my perspective.

Here are my top ten, alphabetized by points scored.

10 points:

  • The Absence of Miriam Lane: AoML discussed loss of self in a way that affected me–I’d felt on an island before, as well. Maybe it was around certain (kind of) friends, or in a certain classroom. It really underscored how hard empathy can be. It intersected
  • Elvish for Goodbye: EfG was the writing I didn’t know I wanted, but I really, really did. It reminded me of half-forgotten goals and stuff I still can’t describe that I want, or why, or how. It’s almost the opposite of AoML except for the whole “being really high quality” bit.

9 points:

  • According to Cain: a biblical story that’s never preachy with interesting alchemical elements. So terribly unsurprised this person is a published author!
  • Arborea: this feels very old-school but is very well done,.
  • Long Way to the Nearest Star, A: I enjoyed the conversations with SOLIS, the AI. It had just about the right amount of pushback for me. If you’ve ever had that friend where things started rockily at first but you reach an understanding, well, this captured that. So very unexpected given the start.
  • Prism: another entry I was worried I wouldn’t get, and if I still don’t, I’m glad there’s more to get! It was the last I reviewed.
  • You May Not Escape!: this subverts expectations of a maze game quite nicely. I mean, we all have seen “ha ha ha this is a maze deal with it” and the joke wears thin, except here there is no joke. I came back to thinking about this quite a bit.

8 points:

  • One Way Ticket was charmingly odd to me. I had some frustration with moving around slowly, and I hit a bug, so I couldn’t quite get this into 9, but the good parts were great.
  • Princess of Vestria, Counsel in the Cave, and Walk Around the Neighborhood all hit entirely different sweet spots for me! I hadn’t played a strong fantasy entry in the comp for a while (2020 might’ve had one,) Counsel is the sort of thing I wish I’d have written in college, and Walk is a surprisingly cheery “my lousy apartment” game – your living partner as hint device is ingenious and leaves me wondering why nobody thought of it before.
  • I gave out eight other eights. They will remain anonymous.

(okay, I lied. I have a 3 way tie for 9th. So it’s not fully alphabetical. And maybe I rigged the numbers to make them that way. But I wanted to include all 3 entries.)


Top ten? Hmmm… The first seven are quite clear (and strangely organised in categories without intention on my part).

  • According to Cain takes first place. Not a doubt. It stood head and shoulders above the rest of the Comp even in the test version. If I had encountered that version on IFDB as a finished game, I would probably have given it 5 stars already.
  • Three games vying for that coveted place just beneath Cain… All of them choice/click games. Elvish for Goodbye, Prism, and A Long Way to the Nearest Star.
  • Three parsers for third: Crash, Arborea, and The Alchemist.

I had to go back through my reviews to fill the final three slots… The Princess of Vestria, Let Them Eat Cake, and A Walk Around the Neighborhood.

EDIT: I only played 24, so a top 10 is asking to rank almost half my sample. I’m painfully aware that the other 2/3rds of the games are booing me from the stands and holding up a big banner: YOUR LOSS MATE ! !


I actually put all of my scores into a spreadsheet so I could compare them to each game’s average (I’m well aware that I’m a slightly harsher grader than the average IFComp judge). According to that, my median and mode were both 6, my mean was 5.8, and I also had a pretty much exact bell curve in my ratings.

My top ten by rating (alphabetized without saying what rating each game got) were:

  • The Absence of Miriam Lane
  • According to Cain
  • The Archivist and the Revolution
  • Blood Island
  • Elvish for ‘Goodbye’
  • The Grown-Up Detective Agency
  • i wish you were dead.
  • Nose Bleed
  • One Final Pitbull Song (at the End of the World)
  • A Walk Around the Neighborhood

I played all the games save 3—my Mac is refusing Wineskin for whatever reason so I couldn’t make the Windows executables work. I also, of course, didn’t rate my own game.


I can’t see my votes anymore, nor did I tracked it before :confused: So I don’t remember what I gave for most games I played/reviewed… But here were my highest-rated ones (only remembered because I was talking about it yesterday with someone…):

  • Esther’s
  • The Archivist and the Revolution
  • Graveyard Stroll
  • The Grown-Up Detective Agency

Looking at the reviews, these might not be in the top 10, but those are the ones I liked most. :slight_smile:


Like Manon, I can’t remember most of the scores I assigned, but here are the few at the top. Take into account that I didn’t get to play more than 20 games, because Life, so some games that deserve to be here probably aren’t.

  • According to Cain (my top pick)
  • The Absence of Miriam Lane
  • The Only Possible Prom Dress
  • A Chinese Room

Weirdly, according to the internet my scoring was not Normal (not sure why I’d start now anyway), but a Pearson (Beta) Type 1. Steep up at the bottom, tailing off at the top.

I already published my top 5, why not more?


  • Blood Island
  • Only Possible Prom Dress
  • According to Cain
  • The Archivist and the Revolution
  • A Long Way to the Nearest Star

I would not have predicted the weird choice-narrative/classic parser clustering this ended up as.


I wonder if I Wish You Were Dead might get the Golden Banana award, as I’ve seen it listed several times here while I’ve seen negative reviews elsewhere.

I really don’t know who will place highly this time, it’s always so hard to guess. If I had to pick anything, I’d say According to Cain and A Long Way to the Nearest Star were likely to be the highest playing parser and choice games, but I really liked a lot of games in this comp that may not necessarily place high.


I only played 20 games, so don’t feel happy giving a top 10. However my mean was 5.6, and my median and mode 6. I tend to be quite a tough scorer. My scores this year ranged from 2 to 10, and had a clear bell curve distribution.

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Mean 5.5, median 6, mode 6, 61 games rated. And here is my rating distribution:

My top 10, ranked [points]:

  1. The Grown-Up Detective Agency [8]
  2. According to Cain [8]
  3. The Absence of Miriam Lane [8]
  4. The Princess of Vestria [7]
  5. January [7]
  6. Trouble in Sector 471 [7]
  7. Thanatophobia [7]
  8. One Way Ticket [7]
  9. Cannelé & Nomnom – Defective Agency [7]
  10. Blood Island [7]

I try to be consistent in my rating scale over time (across IFComps) and didn’t rate any games 9 or 10 this year. However, I still think the top three games (8 points) were excellent (just not ‘perfect’ or ‘almost perfect’). All games scoring 7 were also very good, and I recommend playing them.

Compared to other people, I think I give fewer very high scores (8–10), fewer very low scores (1–3) and more 6s. So to try to be fair to the games/authors, I always use the (personal) randomiser and try to mostly stick to the playing order assigned, though I may skip the longer (more than 2 hours) games completely and change the order around a bit (e.g., if I only have time to play a 15-minute game).

When converting the ratings into IFDB stars, a 9 or 10 is automatically 5 stars. Some 8s are 5 stars, and some 4 stars. A 7 is 4 stars. A 6 is 3 stars. A 5 is probably 3 stars. A 4 is 2 stars, a 3 is probably 2 stars, and a 2 or 1 is 1 star.


I rated 33 entries with a mean score of 5.333, median 5. My personal top 10:

  1. According to Cain
  2. Prism
  3. Elvish for Goodbye
  4. A Chinese Room
  5. The 39 Steps
  6. Trouble in Sector 471
  7. Lazy Wizard’s Guide
  8. Chase the Sun
  9. The Princess of Vestria
  10. Use Your Psychic Powers at Applebee’s

Overall I was floored by the amount of great work in the comp this year, and it’s exciting to see a lot of games I didn’t play showing up in top-ten lists - there’s another season of play ahead!