Truthcraze's 2023 (Meal) Reviews of the IFComp games

BARCAROLLE IN YELLOW

Pasta night. The sauce is red red red. The noodles are a bit undercooked - they were going for al dente, but undershot by a bit. A generous portion of cheese is scattered over the top of the pasta, and the sauce tastes strongly of italian seasoning - the kind you can get at the store already mixed together. The meal was thrown together in a rush just before you got there, and there are some telltale signs of the haste in which it was prepared - spots of sauce spatter the table, the stove, even a bit on the walls - but it was prepared with love and verve, and is offered proudly, and is hearty and an honest meal.

10 Likes

THE VAMBRANCE OF DESTINY

Chicken McNuggets. Not just chicken nuggets. McNuggets. They come in four packs in kids meals. Laughably small, that order. Also six packs - for bigger kids and some adults. Not enough. Sure, there are 20 packs. Also not enough.

Once upon a time, in my youth, there was a sale, 20 nuggets for $5. And once upon a time, my friends and I had $25.

This game is 100 chicken McNuggets, the best in the business at being small and tasty treasures that you can dip into a million different sauces, which are all basically tomato paste and sugar, and then you can eat chicken McNuggets until you get sick of chicken McNuggets. But you will never get sick of chicken McNuggets.

Sure, some might say they are processed to the point of close to not being food, and some will say that if you want small pieces of chicken you should have bone-in-wings or at least strips, but dammit, sometimes only chicken McNuggets will do.

This is not a paid ad for McDonalds.

9 Likes

LAST VESTIGES

When I was a kid, and I was left alone for a meal, or was just hungry like kids get at inappropriate times, I would make peanut butter on crackers.

This game is peanut butter on crackers. No milk, no plate, just smeared directly onto saltines from the jar, possibly just dunked into the jar and leaving saltine crumbs in the peanut butter itself.

Peanut butter tastes great, and saltines are a good cracker, a good ol’ reliable cracker. Nothing fancy. Does the job. Not particularly skillful or made with care, but there is something enjoyable there.

9 Likes

Thanks for the creatively written review! Glad you enjoyed it :slight_smile:

1 Like

MILLIWAYS: THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE

x menu

“…There is nothing left on it. Hmm.”

Fortunately, this meal review is not going to leave it at that - for the experience of Milliways the game is not precisely that of Milliways the restaurant in the game.

Milliways the game is the experience of going back to your home town. There is a restaurant in your home town. Family owned, amazing little italian place. A bistro, but one with heart and soul, where you spent many hours of your youth, first with your family, then as you grew, with high school friends, maybe you showed your first college longterm Significant Other the place when you brought them home to meet the parents. You know the restaurant, every inch, every dish on the menu, you have your favorites and you like exactly how they make the Veal Piccata here (don’t worry, sir, I’ll be very humane).

And you go back after a decade or two or three away, and the place is there, but it’s under new ownership. It still feels the same, but hauntingly different in ways that are hard to explain. The menu has changed a little. They no longer put WAY TOO MANY capers into the Veal Piccata - but you liked that many capers.

You used to know the waiters here, had little inside jokes with them. Of course they are gone now. Of course they would be. All the waiters are college kids now, too young. They smile indulgently at you when you tell them how the place used to be, how the town used to be. You feel the thoughts behind their eyes, though, the wish that you would just hurry up and order already.

You order the lasagna and a cup of vegetable soup. The plate is hearty, the soup hot and a liquid and almost but not quite entirely unlike how vegetable soup from this place should be.

12 Likes

CITIZEN MAKANE

A penis-shaped cake from a novelty baker. The penis is a bit inexpertly shaped, at least in your experience, but in a fun and funny way. You hope it is supposed to be in a funny way. God, hopefully this wasn’t modeled after real life?

HOWEVER. The cake is perfectly baked, rich and full of flavor, iced with a light and airy and delicious whipped frosting. The cake is layered, with a dark, almost burnt but not quite salted caramel filling between layers, that perfectly sets off the cake.

What flavor is the cake? …vanilla.

But it’s a vanilla that KNOWS it is vanilla, a vanilla with vanilla bean specks in it, a vanilla that says VANILLA IS A FLAVOR AND NOT A DESCRIPTOR FOR BLAND.

So sure, you tried the cake for the humor of it all, but found it to be a really really nice cake, surprisingly so.

I mean, it’s still a penis cake, though.

With black licorice strands as decoration on one end.

12 Likes

And there it is, the complete set of my randomized parser Inform games. I might dip my toe into the choice-based games, or some of the non-Inform parser games.

Authors, let me know if you want me to hit up your game and give it a meal review. You can probably infer from the above reviews if the meal I will give you will be a Michelin star or a grilled cheese slapped together by your babysitter.

Of course, who is to say which of those would be preferable?

11 Likes

If you do wind up dipping into non-Inform parser games, I’d be curious to hear your take on LAKE Adventure.

But only if you decide to write more; I appreciate all you’ve written already. :slight_smile:

5 Likes

Note that Milliways was not made in Inform, as I’m sure you know. It was the original language of Infocom, ZIL.

2 Likes

Great work getting through all the Inform games!

I echo Drew’s suggestion of LAKE Adventure, but it’d be neat to see your opinions of non-Inform parser games. And if you are up to it, a review of Hawkstone and/or Artful deceit might help the review spreadsheet get to “all entries have 10 reviews.”

But I’m looking forward to whatever you want to poke at, if you have the time.

4 Likes

Thank you for this mouth-watering review!

5 Likes

At least one more meal - an after dinner mint, perhaps.

HAND ME DOWN

A three course meal at a catered wedding. The first course is a salad, fresh greens, a few bitter vegetables, some nice plump cherry tomatoes, and an overall tang of vitamins and nutrients and not much “fun”. This salad is health food, and will not stand for your frivolities of cheese and candied pecans and crunchy tortilla strips and all other things that make salads tasty and calorie packed. You do get a choice of one or two dressings, and the salad is well prepared and crisp and tasty, even with the lack of cheese and nuts and fat and sugar and artificial colors.

The second course you are dismissed table by table, and you can choose about a million (or fifteen - plus a dozen or so “bonus” odds and ends) little amuse bouches and appetizers and tapas and small plates and little bites. These all fit the theme, but the theme seems to be aimed just a bit younger than a wedding, or a sweet sixteenth, to be honest. It seems a bit like a wedding merged with a six year old’s birthday - but then there will be one particular appetizer that is insanely complex and sophisticated and difficult to eat (in a fun way - maybe this is escargot, complete with the little fork) that you rethink the six year old part. And then every tenth bite or so there will be an astringent, bitter flavor that undercuts the fun and whimsy of the set of dishes. The bacon wrapped asparagus in a mouth puckering, eye watering citrus sauce. Your eyes are definitely watering because of the sauce. Not because weddings and birthday parties and whatever this is make you think of the passage of time, the turn of the years, all those who have left your life and not come back. And then the next bite is a chocolate covered potato chip.

After your fill of the tapas buffet, you come back to your seats. There is a slideshow playing while they cut the cake. Is this a wedding, a birthday, a wake - all of the above? The slideshow music is Time of Your Life (Good Riddance). While you eat the cake you can talk to your table mates about the buffet meal, or about the heavy issues of life - or just eat the cake. The aftertaste is a bit saccharine, the cake is just a BIT too sweet and not balanced with sour or bitter - but sometimes that’s all you need from cake, is a nice sweet wrap-up to the party. And it’s not a wake. It’s not a wedding. It’s not a birthday even - it’s a baby shower.

13 Likes

Perfection.

5 Likes

LAKE ADVENTURE

A PB&J sandwich from a fine dining restaurant, intentionally nostalgic, and childish - but the bread is sourced from local wheat, an artisinal cultivar, hand ground by a team of sous chefs, raised with wild yeast harvested from the earliest known bakeries in the country. The peanuts are hand selected, individually roasted, smashed into butter in an authentic 1800’s cast iron press, then sweetened with local honey. The jelly is fresh made from berries from a garden behind the restaurant. It is sweet, hearty, surprising, nostalgic, fun, easy to eat yet redolent with a depth of flavor that is surprising considering the form of the food, but not considering the restaurant.

But the aftertaste is bitter, and lasting. See my latest post in the “Spoilery Question about Lake Adventure” post for my non-meal thoughts on it.

11 Likes