Viv Dunstan’s 2023 Spring Thing & Autumnal Jumble impressions

:sunglasses: - I just tried it on my version (now version 16 which was going to be my post release version) and the disambiguation of the cat / cat food seems to be okay in that - so maybe I fixed inadvertently while fixing other issues (I like those sort of fixes :wink: )


The Mamertine by K Vella

This is a Twine piece where you try to escape from a cult. It feels more like a parser game than Twine generally does, with geographical locations, and objects that you can manipulate, and verb and noun pairings. Plus inventory management. Oh and it’s partially point and click. It’s an intriguing combination, and works well with the puzzles of the game.

However I found quite a lot of problems. There are a number of typos, and also I ran into a runtime error. I replayed several times, but couldn’t get past the room below the swaying cultists. I had pulled the lever 4 times, rating “Psychopath”! Also I am very much not a fan of slow timed text, which happened in the opening of this game. I read very very quickly. I do not like text playing out very very slowly.

However the story and puzzles were intriguing, and fun, and I’d be interested in seeing more works using the game engine.

For the author I’m going to include details of typos and that runtime bug.

notes for author


typo near start: “You are don’t think” (in Ante Chamber)

Old Man: “his face an expression a mild annoyance” (should be “of” not “a”)

discussing elevator: “to get this elevator workking”; and “It’s the key to is all” - should be “it all”; and “After a hesitating a moment” - lose the first “a”.

Draughty Cave: “shimmy you way” should be your not you; also “able clamber out of hole” should have word to after able.

Shrine: “it’s multi-hued light” - should be its


use compass in hedge maze or later

An error has occurred. You may be able to continue, but some parts may not work properly.

Error: <<run>>: bad evaluation: undefined is not an object (evaluating 'rule[verbKey]').

Stack Trace:

Mirror by (or organised/collected by?) Ondrej Odokienko

This is a set of 4 game books by students in a creative writing event in Slovakia. In this quick review I’m treating each one separately, as well as giving overall thoughts at the end.

Lilian Lalonder

This starts compellingly with a strange mirror, and then takes you into another place, and some really bizarre and creatively written outcomes. It’s good. And the English is strong. I did notice some typos so will note those for the author below. I played all the endings, and was glad I could see them all. This was probably my favourite of all the pieces.


ecceptionally - should be exceptionally
I wait a a few seconds - remove duplicate a
comming out of the display - should be coming
crashed into eachother - need space in each other
litarally disappeared - literally
apocalypse happenning - happening
passangers door - passenger’s (or passenger)
Note: this looks like a lot, but you wrote a lot of interesting text! And as I said the English was strong.


This doesn’t use the theme “mirror” so immediately, and it comes later, and is used in a very clever way. It’s rather a neat tale of how you handle unexpected news. However it resists the player following certain paths through, which left me feeling a bit cheated. I wanted to see the outcomes of those decisions, even the ones I doubted were wise. I replayed several times to try to explore different routes. The core idea is really strong, well done to the author, but let us play through things. Don’t steamroller.

I did spot a few typos, though again the English was very good.


clerc - should be clerk
promissed - should be promised
And thanks God - should be thank
There´s alwas a bright side - should be always not alwas


This is a multi part story, and feels more like a Twine version of a parser game than the others, which are more traditional Twine interactive stories. You start in a room with various objects you can examine, quite minimally described. And then see where you can get to. It’s quite a short piece, multiple branching narratives, but a quick fun explore, and an intriguing world. It also left me pondering at the end, which is good! And I was keen to replay, and explore different choices. Original use of mirror. Thanks!


find dead body - add word “a” after find so it reads better
typo in the continue text after the phone call from the police, reads “Contitnue” should be “Continue”

Dr John

This one starts in all capitals, which was a bit of a shock to me. A mix of lower and upper case is generally friendlier for readers to read. It seems to be set in a strange world of reflections and observers, and stuff that is hidden. However I struggled to get a good outcome. At one point the game suggests you click randomly on every bit of blue text. I was exploring lots of options for ages, then suddenly had an idea of something to try. And got to a good outcome! So phew. It was very hard though. The scifi like setting was a nice contrast with the other three works.


untill your device - should be until
It seems the player failed to look into the GLASS WALL propperly - should be properly

Final thoughts

This was an interesting set of micro short Twine stories. Each was unique in its approach, and together they showed a variety of ways the system can be used. Two of the games included input boxes asking you to type text in, and this was nicely used, especially in one of the games. And I liked the different approaches and genres e.g. fantasy, real world, slice of life, horror, sci-fi and also branching narrative versus geographical world model versus philosophical puzzle. So thank you all! I hope that there might be more from Senica Thing in the 2024 Spring Thing. New voices in IF are always welcome!


Thanks for the review! The generally undertested and incomplete nature of this short game is why I put it in the Back Garden, which was definately the right choice I think.


You didn’t get stuck in the storage room, that is actually the end of the demo. Perhaps I should have titled it ‘The Mamertine Part 1’, although I don’t think I will go back to this setting and expand it into a complete peice of IF as it’s not a game I intentionally set out to write but rather it was made to test the engine itself. The game I intend to make with VIBAE will be coming eventually but realistically it is going to take some time (IF comp '24 maybe???).

Did you get the compass to work at all? I designed the engine to handle relative navigation, ie; room descriptions and descriptions of entrances and exits can change depending on where you entered the room from. The compass item was intended as a way for the player to get absolute direction for making a map that made narrative sense outside the established IF trope of the PC having a sort of internal compass working for them at all times.

If you don’t get the compass from talking to the Old Man at the beginning then you can get it by searching his skeleton at the end but by then it is useless. That error should not occur though! oops


Re Mamertime @kVella: Yes I did get the compass to work earlier. Was happily using it to get a sense of direction! Glad that I got to the end, though yes it would be better to make that clear to the player. It is a neat demo. All the best with further development!


Repeat the Ending by Drew Cook

Wow. I’m not quite sure what to say about this. It’s a parser piece, which can be played to an extent as a traditional parser game, episodic in this case. But it’s also metatextual, highly experimental, and in places for me was profoundly affecting.

The metatextual side is perhaps the least spoilery I can go into. It adds a guide you can interact with, that expands, and provides hints. You can also read in game footnotes. This is reminiscent of some discussion on this forum a while back about how old games could be effectively bundled up in a wider package, providing extra contextualisation etc. It’s really neatly done here.

The traditional parser/puzzle side is arguably the least interesting element. But it’s well done. And uses a neat mechanism throughout, that I won’t spoil.

There is also something very interesting about the narrative structure that the game does. But again I don’t want to spoil it!

But it was how the game affected me that I found most impactful. This relates to something that happened in my own life almost a year ago (spoiler: my dad died). And I feel quite shocked after playing the game to be honest. But in a good way.

Kudos to the author for a powerful and innovative piece.


Thanks so much for spending time with my game! I really value your feedback on the metatext, since I think it was the hardest to write (except for the ending).

I’m grateful for your review; thanks again.


One more comment re Repeat the Ending. As I said to Drew elsewhere I could have written so much more about this in my review. I sort of wish I had. But I feel very strongly that this is a game best discovered by each player afresh. And I absolutely didn’t want to spoil things. If anything my review underplays how good it was. There are many more things I could have acknowledged. But that way lies spoilers. And I wanted to avoid them! Try it out anyway folks!


I’ve earmarked another 4 games for playing next. Fingers crossed I may get to a reviewed total of 20 by the competition’s end date. No promises! But very much enjoying my time playing Spring Thing this year. Thanks to all the authors.


Marie Waits by Dee Cooke

This is a time-limited parser game where you have to escape from a very dangerous situation. It is briskly written, with lots of atmosphere, scares and tension. However I found that I was often fighting the parser. The experience could have been smoother. I don’t know if it being in PunyInform was a factor, but e.g. if I had a key for something that it obviously fitted UNLOCK X wouldn’t smoothly work. I had to type UNLOCK X WITH Y KEY. There’s also quite a bit of juggling tools, where again you need just the right command. So I think this could have benefited from deeper playtesting. However it was exciting to play, and the concept is strong. I got a good ending but also had a look at what happened when time runs out. So good stuff, but playtest more, and if possible smooth the player experience.

Notes for author

I especially struggled to interact with the floorboards. Eg I couldn’t get good responses to EXAMINE FLOOR. Also LIFT FLOORBOARD WITH CHISEL didn’t work. I really had to use the walkthrough at this point.


Thanks for the review! A lot of the less-smooth issues may be due to my inexperience with Puny (unlocking commands etc. have to be explicit by default and I haven’t looked into how to change that yet), but I’ll be collecting and adding more command synonyms for a later release.


Your Post-Apocalyptic To-Do List by Geoffrey Golden

This is a very wacky short Ink piece, where as the opening says:

Today is your first day as a mutant hog farmer in the wild wastelands of Arizoona.

It’s bonkers, but highly entertaining. Surprisingly effective at world building. And it does have depth in terms of being a state management game. You are limited in what you can do each turn, and always need to do more than you have time for.

I only played through once but really enjoyed it. I didn’t encounter any bugs, and it was solidly implemented. I was pleased to see in the credits at the end that there were a lot of testers. This game certainly made me laugh a lot. Thank you!


Etiolated Light by Lassiter W.

This is a moderately long (I wouldn’t say “short” as the game card says) Twine piece, that is gothic horror and very spooky.

When it started up with

You are sitting in the office of an official

I worried how the writing would go. “Office” and “official” felt too similar to be effective writing. But you are a child at this point, and the opening captures that characterisation well.

As the story goes on you get drawn into a dangerous world of mysteries. And it’s really compelling, and disturbing. Quite horrific in places, but not so much gory horror as spooks.

There must be multiple endings. I got a not great one, and the game doesn’t allow you to step back, and I didn’t want to replay all the way through. But I very much enjoyed the experience. I also liked how it offered multiple choices re gender in places. And how later individual choices already done are differently coloured (though this may not work for players using screen readers).

I noticed quite a lot of typos (to be fair out of a lot of written text that you read), so will note them below for the author to potentially fix.


One smiles and the others’ face slackens - other’s

In the corner is that same butterfly from earlier, helplessly flapping it wings. - should be “its wings”

You wake up the find that every light in your bedroom has been turned on. There are even lights that’ve been moved in from other rooms. - should be “wake up to find”

And it isn’t just Cessair’s room, not just the window. That’s where the spider lays but its web - it’s web extends over the entire back of the house. - it’s should be its

The days pass by in a hazey blur. You think you hear things: footsteps, something moving behind the walls, tapping on your window. - hazy?


Thanks for playing and for the very nice review. I take “bonkers” as high praise! :crazy_face:


Lady Thalia and the Masterpiece of Moldavia by E. Joyce & N. Cormier

This is a Twine game, that’s a mix of historical, crime and social niceties. It’s the latest in a series featuring gentlewoman thief Lady Thalia. I can’t recall if I’ve played any other others. This game is perfectly playable by people unfamiliar with the others.

I really enjoyed it. The writing was strong, and the mix of game play elements worked well. There are four acts to the story, so you get a sense of progress. It took me about an hour to play through in total, and I read pretty quickly for reference.

Some of the elements involved social interaction, and conversations. And this was very well implemented. Others were more of a traditional crime heist. Even almost a maze element at one point. Which I didn’t make the best job of, but had fun. Everything leads up to a dramatic ending, but along the way there are unexpected developments, new foes to encounter, and intrigue to uncover. Even during the heist you have many options of how to approach it, e.g. what route to take, how to interact with things, how to respond to problems that occur. It’s just delightful.

If you like Jeeves and Wooster stories, or Arsene Lupin, do check this out. And even if you’re not familiar with them but enjoy a good interactive story it’s a good one.

Note for the author

I noticed a typo near the end, just as I was about to steal the fresco:

Your task list is as follows:
• You’ve collected all your tools.
• You’ve cleared a path to the best of your ability

  • i.e. a blank line between the “You’ve cleared a path” line and its full stop.

Oh and my final finesse score was 31/39. I was pretty rubbish at scouting out the maze and turning off alarms. I was relieved I got away with things!


Oh absolutely, very much so!


Thank you, Viv, for playing all our games and for finding time to comment on each separately. Truly, this becomes the best part of the THING - the metatext life on this forum, the reviews (as far as they are nice like yours) and the satisfaction when the reader makes it through the puzzles. It will be easier now to persuade authors to join next year.


Thanks for the excellent review, and glad to hear you liked it!

Oh thank goodness. Coding aside, this has been something we’ve consistently worried about/struggled with as we get deeper into the series, so I’m very glad it’s still accessible to newcomers.

Also, thanks for the heads up about the typo! @EJoyce or I will get on that promptly.


Aesthetics Over Plot by ro-han

This is a short but entertaining Twine piece set at a party where through social interactions you need to try to get a job. It’s branching, and there are bad outcomes, and then others where you can get on better, and move the plot on. It is also possible to go back to previous choices, and try different routes. The writing is fun, though there are quite a lot of typos, including in the game blurb on the competition site. I’m going to include notes for the author in case they want to fix some of these later. But that aside it’s briskly written, amusing, and I felt a sense of immersion within the story. And I was happy exploring different endings.

Typo notes for the author

Some of them anyway. I stopped noting them after a while. But definitely recommend fixing the competition website game blurb ones.

[competition website game blurb] After losing your job as a well paid biologist, you have been living rather … let’s say frugally. With the oppurtunity of getting invited to one of your buccaneer friend’s party/banquet (really though?), you are determined to get the next job. But your potential bosses involve a omniscent mind reading cactus, a really cool donkey, and a wall. How would you win the job? - opportunity, omniscient (and put an before it not a)

Too bad you were fired about an year ago but none of your friends know that. - should be “a year ago”

ofcourse your experience as a biologist - missing space in “of course”

The crowd disperses as you make your way through. “The tshirt is doing it’s job just right” you say to yourself. - should be its


My dark secret is that I was also awful at the maze exploration portions when I tried to test them without the pre-drawn map in front of me.

Thanks for the review!