Transit by Shaye
Transit is a game from the perspective of someone separated from a friend at a foreign airport, with no means of communication. Looking over the prose again as I write this review, I see humor where I missed it before. For me, I think the humorous/surreal/exciting elements really need to be turned up some notches; it was really a struggle to care about the story when I initially played. It was only the small size of the game and a feeling that the author wasn’t ill-intentioned that kept me playing.
That said, I am biased against CYOA, and since I didn’t feel this piece elevated the form, I gave it a pretty low rating.
Shuffling Around by Ned Yompus
(I played the first release)
It seems that there are a fair amount of IF players who enjoy these wordplay games. I, for one, don’t since these games always seem to have a fair amount of puzzles that are stupidly arbitrary, allowing one word but not allowing another reasonable word. This game seems to try to avoid frustration by empowering the PC with a hint gadget, which I thought was interesting.
Still, I thought a game about anagrams that only accepts one word commands kind of keeps the limitation of the implementation on the brain. Also, the sad fact is, I couldn’t even finish the tutorial area when I couldn’t find some guard, but I was kind of happy to be given an excuse to quit.
Signos by M4u
(I played the first release)
This was an interesting game. I mean, the first time I played, within a handful of moves, I had gotten myself stuck in some dark room where I (seemingly?) couldn’t do anything. I thought that was enough to determine a score, but I figured I’d play around a bit more just the same. I have to say that I’m intrigued by the philosophy angle the other rooms I explored had, even if I didn’t accomplish anything meaningful in any of them.
It was kind of odd that the game provided options to GET characters. I imagine Quest has the capabilities to specify what kind of default commands are allowed with objects and characters and that the author just hasn’t learned how to do this yet. That’ll be a big improvement when it’s fixed.
I also thought the background music contributed positively to the mood of the game. While not successful in the making-making-me-want-to-play-it-to-completion category, I thought the tone was nicely not off-putting, so even though the game’s flaws really weigh it down, I also feel oddly endeared to it.
Changes by David Given
Changes starts off with a disturbing gory scene, and a pause. After the keypress, there’s enough of a scene change to make the pause’s existence justifiable. A couple of turns in is where the true moment of horror is, though, as I read the prose and thought, dear god have I woken up as a furry??
Fortunately, Changes doesn’t go as far down that path as one would worry it might. Overall, it’s one of the better comp12 games I’ve played so far. There are enough rooms to require mapping for somebody like me but not so many that I felt weighed down. The efficiency-lover in me wonders if it could be trimmed further, though. There’s also a certain daemon that is really tiresome if you trigger it before the plot calls for it.
The game is strongest in the “game proper”; the sci-fi backstory stuff is interesting but the prose is not really engaging yet. Maybe that could be improved.
Overall, the puzzles are intuitive enough, but the execution of some could be improved (like the [rot13]qvirefvba bs gur qrre ureq[/rot13]). The only real stinker is the last puzzle (ohvyqvat n gevcbq bhg bs fgvpxf) which was so bad that it docked the final score several points. I think Changes could be a fully-successful game with some polishing. Hopefully, it gets there.
Lunar Base 1 by Michael Phipps
First off, I was a betatester for this game so I will not be rating it.
The other year, I wrote a review of his previous game, Hallow Eve. You can find it here.
Some may call his new game disappointingly railroaded, but I think that compared to his earlier game, it is nice to see the ideas within more easily accessible.
The game is odd within its own right. Things like, why are astronauts taking the time to reminisce about childhood? In a game like this, the point is not so much about realism as it is about telling an earnest story.
I imagine there are still some annoyances. I hope you can now look out that one window if the other astronaut is not in front of it. Some of the phrasings and punctuation didn’t sit right with me when I played it, but I never got around to compiling my issues for the author since in a way, those things are not the point of this kind of game. It tells its story well enough and is a fun little romp and succeeds in being more engaging than your average game.
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO!