Victor's IFComp 2023 Reviews

haha, I was being a tongue in cheek about my choice of which games from Victor’s reviews to respond to.

In seriousness, yeah, 20EP has a healthy number of reviews but definitely not the most-discussed game.


Glad you got to see it! Also take note that every puppet becomes a different monster. My personal favorites are Blintz and Princess Koy!

also, I feel I owe an apology to @VictorGijsbers for my game consuming so much real estate in his review thread! It’s true, though, this is all very valuable information for my next game, so it’s greatly appreciated from everyone.


I believe that the conditions of reception/consumption are usually a significant part of the meaning-making process, even if it doesn’t come up a lot. This is something that interests me!


I was one who played with the undo button, even though I anticipated there might be some mechanism to recover the lost puppets. When I discovered the puppet that could scare off the guards, that was a game changer.

@bitterkarella is one of my favorite IF authors. How nice you were able to get their feedback.


Agreed. It’s like how some early games would let you continue after dying, at the cost of losing some points (and thus irrevocably locking yourself out of the endgame). I’d rather undo and retry than keep playing knowing I can no longer win.


Feel free to do so, though! I enjoy discussing these games

You know, that explains a lot. I’m afraid I don’t know the movie (or the actor), but I can imagine that having more context could explain a lot about this game, and possibly resolve some of the frustration I felt!


…Children of Men?..

To those who haven’t watched it, it is mostly flawless and pretty damn clever.


Honk! by Alex Harby

Honk! continues – or starts, depending on the order in which you play the comp games – the theme of light-hearted, superbly implemented puzzly parser games. This time, we’re in a circus. What’s more, we are a clown. We have custard pies that we can throw, balloons that we can blow up, a miniature car that too many people can get into, and of course a nose that we can honk. The only thing we’re missing is a flower that spouts water – though in one memorable simile, the game, taking the protagonist seriously as the focal character through whom we experience the world, tells us that “like water from a flower, the rabbit shoots out of the hat”.

Our little circus is in trouble. There’s someone, a phantom, who is sabotaging the acts. This makes the audience unruly, of course, but it also threatens the identity of the performers. Who’s the strong woman if she can’t lift someone? Who’s the goose trainer if he can’t get his goose to do what he wants? Defeating the phantom requires you to make the acts work again, and making the acts work again is restoring the ability to express their identity to your fellows in the circus. This is not accidental. Honk! has strong queer themes, and it’s overall message is that we should stop the nasty vindictive people who are trying to take away people’s identities. It doesn’t really explore this in any depth, but it gives the story a good kind of coherence.

The other coherence-generating design decision is that all puzzles involve being a clown. That’s right and proper, of course: we need to embrace our own decidedly non-standard identity in order to help others. Honk our nose, make balloons, throw pies, get into the clown car; it’s all necessary, and it’s fun. I found some of the puzzles more intuitive than others, but in general the difficulty level is not extremely high. (I found the goose puzzle highly intuitive and solved it easily, whereas the rabbit puzzle seems to contradict common sense physics and I had to resort to the walkthrough. By the way, I loved the Grim Fandango allusion.)

The final scene is one of those classic ‘now use everything you have learned’ scenes, which are classic because they just work.

(There might be a slight bug there, because in the very turn in which I defeated the baddie, the circus helper announced that the tire of my car was punctured; but I don’t think they were along for the ride? This seems like a case of a missing ‘if’ statement.)

A very sympathetic game that I highly recommend.


Seconded. Children of Men is fantastic and sadly underseen.


Thanks for this really kind review, Victor! I really appreciate it.

For what it’s worth, the slight bug at the end is supposed to be a joke (in that the helper is being extremely slow on the uptake), but if it looks more like a bug than a joke it probably needs a rewrite. I’ll talk about other things when I get around to the post-mortem.


It’s great when people tell about stuff one never thought of, or perhaps, at best, knew intuitively, as if they were resources intentionally deployed. For example, the trick with the directions. I can’t even define “phenomenology”.

Loved this review Victor!


Don’t worry. Nobody can. :wink:


Doesn’t stop ‘em trying, though.


Did you try a certain magic word? :sunglasses: In the IFComp transcripts I saw only one player using it…