Game Review: Crafty’s Escape Room (2022, dkmGames)

In this text adventure game, you find yourself in a room that you have never seen before.  You do not know how you got there or why you are there.  Other than you, the only things in the room are a bed, a trashcan, a desk, and a locked door.  Can you escape?

First things first, search the room and find the phone.  Then find the simple puzzle that will give you the password to unlock the phone.  (Neither task is difficult.)  In the phone, you’ll find a number.  Call that number and you’ll talk to Crafty.  Crafty is a joker and a know-it-all who likes to tell stories and answer questions.  Crafty says that he heard you like puzzles so he put you in the basement and gave you some puzzles that, when solved, will allow you to leave.

Thanks, Crafty!  I suck at puzzles so I’m probably going to die in your basement!

Crafty’s not really that bad, though.  He just thinks you’ll have fun trying to solve his escape room.  You can even call him up and ask him for hints and he’ll helpfully explain what to do next.  There are four puzzles to solve and none of them are that difficult.  I did get Lisa to help me out with the sudoku puzzle so, if you’re going to attempt this game, I guess you should make sure that either you or someone close to you knows how to play sudoku.

(As autocorrect just reminded me, I can’t even spell sudoku.)

I liked Crafty’s Escape Room.  It’s a well-written throwback to the good natured text adventures of old.  It’s a very good-natured game.  Despite my initial fears, you don’t die if you fail to solve a puzzle.  I appreciated that because, again, puzzles are almost always my downfall when it comes to Interactive Fiction.  As an added bonus, Crafty likes to talk so if you need a break from puzzle solving, you can call him up and just type “Speak” or “Chat” to see what he has to say.

Play Crafty’s Escape Room!

Game Review: Rock, Paper, Scissors! (2022, William Moore)

As is explained in the description of this interactive fiction game, you are a contestant in the biggest Rock, Paper, Scissors! tournament in history.  I did not even know that there was such a tournament!  While the crowd watches, no doubt spellbound, you and an opponent challenge one another to a battle of who can cover rock, cut paper, and blunt scissors!

That’s the entire game.  It’s just Rock, Paper, Scissors over and over again.  Sometimes you win.  Sometimes you lose.  Sometimes, you tie.  It says something about the way that interactive fiction works that this is one of the more addictive games that I’ve played this year.  You don’t get anything for winning.  As far as I can tell, the tournament goes on until the player decides to stop playing.  But I will be damned if I didn’t get caught up in whether or not I would be able to pick the right hand gesture.  By typing “rules,” you can command that the rules be displayed so you can see how and why your opponent picked whatever it is that they picked during each round but I preferred to keep the game mechanics a mystery.

It did take me a few turns to figure out how to actually initiate the game with the opponent.  The version of the game that I played did not understand the commands “play” or “challenge.”  Eventually, I got  frustrated and wrote “Hit Opponent,” because violence is always the last resort while trying to guess the verb while playing interactive fiction.  It turned out that was exactly the right command.

Play Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Crypto is Back in Destroy All Humans! 2 — Reprobed!

From the minute that I first played the remake of Destroy All Humans, I’ve been waiting and hoping for the reboot of Destroy All Humans 2 and my hopes have finally been answered.  THQ Nordic dropped the trailer for Destroy All Humans 2 — Reprobed today.  The trailer not only gave us a release date (August 30th) but it also provided us with some incredible footage from the game.

This looks great!  I can’t wait until August!

Game Review: Second Wind (2021, Matthew Warner)

Society has collapsed.  Biological warfare has changed the majority of humans into werewolves.  Those who have not been infected live in locked-down shelters.  You live in Shelter 5, with your second wife Lorraine.  You used to live in Shelter 4 with your first wife, Wendy.  Wendy kicked you out after she found out that you were cheating on her with Lorraine.  Things have been tense ever since.

Now, Lorraine’s pregnant.  The midwife has told you that the delivery is not going as planned.  A C-section has to be performed to save the lives of both Lorraine and the baby.  (With humanity nearly wiped out, the survival of your baby could give hope to those few who remain.)  You have to get a doctor but that means making you way across the desert wasteland and the ruined city to Shelter 4.  Not only do you have to save the life of your second wife but you’re going to have to convince your first wife to help you do it.  You only have a few hours to make it and all of the shelter’s hoverbikers are damaged beyond use.  Best of luck!

Second Wind is an interactive fiction game for adults.  The stakes are real.  The puzzles require thought.  Your mistakes have consequences.  Puzzles are usually my great downfall when it comes interactive fiction.  Timed challenges are my second greatest downfall.  As you can probably guess, I had to play Second Wind a few times before I got anything close to a good ending and, even then, it was only as good as any ending can be when the world’s gone to Hell in a bucket without anyone even enjoying the ride.  But the challenge made the eventual success even more rewarding.  When playing a game like Second Wind, the best advice would be to remember that using google is not the same as cheating and that Occam’s Razor is your friend.  It also helps to take notes because a lot of the game’s puzzles depend on remembering numbers and then inputting them into the keypads necessary to enter the shelters.

I dug Second Wind.  It’s better-written than most and the descriptions are so vivid that you’ll feel like you’re in that apocalyptic desert, trying to make your way back home.  And if you really do get lost, there is a walk-through that explains the puzzles without leaving you feeling too ashamed for not being able to figure them out for yourself.

Play Second Wind.

Bioshock, Horror Videogame Review, By Case Wright

Ayn Rand- Libertarian, funny hat wearer, and author of that book your roommate wanted you to read in college, but you thought – If only there were an audiobook app. Imagine further, what if libertarians got funding and militant? This is the premise of what evolved into the Bioshock franchise.

Personally, I don’t play a lot of videogames. I used to be really into flying videogames and strategy videogames, BUT I unwind by watching dude’s play videogames. I’m assuming they’re dudes because they usually are. This is a fun way for Xennials and Zoommers to enjoy a game without …. ya know .. playing it.

Bioshock was created by Ken Levine. He was a theater major from Vassar- the last person who’d you’d expect to become a videogame development icon, but here we are. He started out with System Shock, a primitive AI gone evil game that featured a fairly new first person perspective that allowed you act as the bludgeoner of evil forces.

Bioshock was something new. Where Doom had you running around killing things, Bioshock created a World and Society. The graphics of course were amazing, but it created a civilization and culture. Any civilization needs a agreed upon political philosophy, which can attract or be imposed upon others. This civilization creation mixed with horror was Videogame gold!

Ken chose Objectivism to be the underpinning for his societal construct.

According to Ayn Rand, “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute”. This of course can lead to a life of solipsism and in Bioshock that’s what happens.

In the game, a rich industrialist, Andrew Ryan, leaves the terrestrial world to create a city of Rapture under the seas because the government was too intrusive. He wanted to fully unleash Man’s creative potential without rules or regulation. This allowed for scientific innovation in the form of “Plasmids” a drug which gives the user lethal superpowers, but it also led to the city failing because everyone started killing each other for dominance.

You play Jack and go through the game killing all kinds of freaks – BRUTALLY! As you go forward in the game, you are completely immersed in blood and libertarian political philosophy. You’re led by an Irish voice who says – “Would you kindly?” Before telling you to do things.

I don’t want to give away any ending. I do want you to give it a chance and watch below!

Sign Me Up For Lawn Mowing Simulator!

There’s a lot of people making fun of the lawn mower simulator right now but I just watched the trailer and I’m ordering.

Yes, the trailer make it look like Lawn Mowing Simulator just a game about mowing lawns but we all know what the game is really about.  How many weird pictures can you mow in the grass before the homeowner comes home and figures out what you’re doing?  How many sticks and stones can you run your lawn mover over before you have to replace the blade?  Is your lawnmower powerful enough to destroy a pair of roller skates?  If you accidentally clip the neighbor’s yard, do you even it out or do you just play innocent and say you have no idea how that happened?

I did some research and I discovered that this game is not just about lawns.  It’s also a business simulator, where you build your landscaping business from the ground up.  You get chances to upgrade your lawnmower and there’s also mini-games involving trying to find and remove objects from the yard before you actually start cutting the grass.

I’ve actually always enjoyed business sims so this looks like the perfect game for me.  I get the sense of accomplishment of building a successful business without having to worry about accidentally shooting people just because I pushed the wrong button.  Sign me up!

Welcome To Silent Hill

Instead of reviewing an IF game today, I decided to instead share what I consider to be one of the greatest video game opening scenes of all time.

I know people who still play Silent Hill just for the opening alone.  Though it may look primitive compared to what we’re used to today, this game really blew everyone’s mind when it first came out in 1999.  This is the game that showed a generation just how good a game could be.  The opening not only set the mood but also let us know that there was more to Silent Hill than just walking down streets and shooting monsters.  This was a game that told a comple story.  That’s something that we take for granted now but, at the time, Silent Hill was revolutionary.

The score was composed by Akira Yamaoka.  He was influenced by Angelo Badalamenti’s work for David Lynch.

Happy Halloween!  I’ve really enjoyed participating in this year’s Horrorthon and I look forward to doing it all over again next year!

Game Review: Minor Arcana (2020, Jack Sanderson Thwaite)

This game is an entrant in 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the entries can be found here.

Minor Arcana is probably not the first game to center around Tarot cards but it is probably the first one to actually be written from the point of view of the cards themselves.  You are the cards and, as you wait to reveal your next fortune, you think about your past and maybe your future.  Who created you?  Who gave you power and why?  Are you going to help the people who seek your insight or are you going to destroy them?  Are you a force of chaos or a force of peace?  These are the decisions that you, as the player, can make as you point and click your way through the story.

Like a lot of works done with Twine, Minor Arcana is more of a short story than a game.  While it’s true that you control several elements of the story and that your decisions will determine the type of story that’s told, it would be a mistake for anyone to play Minor Arcana thinking that it’s going to be a traditional IF game where you solve puzzles and examine rooms and decide whether to move north, west, or, if you’re really lucky, northeast.  Instead, Modern Arcana is more of a well-written mood piece, designed to make the player meditate on issues of fate, fortune, and the future.

Minor Arcana can be played here.

Game Review: Trusting My Mortal Enemy?! What a Disaster! (2020, Storysinger Presents)

This TWINE game is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  Because it’s October, I’m currently concentrating on only playing the horror and fantasy-based entries but I hope to have played and reviewed all of the entries by November 29th.

In this game, you are Lightbearer, Garden City’s greatest hero.  And you are also Promethium, Garden City’s most nefarious villain.  You play both roles in this unusual text adventure.  When Lightbearer finally defeats Promethium, it might mean that she’ll have to leave Garden City and, for a lot of reasons, she’s not ready to uproot her family and make that move.  So, Lightbearer and Promethium make a deal.  Lightbearer will let Promethium go free on the condition that they continue to have regular “staged” battles.  Lightbearer and Promethium meet regularly at a coffeeshop to choreograph their fights ahead of time.  Depending on the choices that the player makes, the hero and the villain can bond over their unexpected similarities or, as the title suggests, trying to trust your enemy can be a complete disaster.

I enjoyed this game.  It took me by surprise and both Lightbearer and Promethium were interesting and well-written characters.  This game explored why a hero needs a villain and vice versa and the story led to some very unexpected places.  It’s not a short game but it is a rewarding one.  It’s well worth the time required to play it.

It can be played here.

Game Review: Rockstar (1989, Wizard Games)

Do you want to be a rockstar despite having no musical talent?

Then get over to the Internet Archive and play Rockstar, which is about as close to being a music superstar as most of us will ever get a chance to be!

In Rockstar, you’re a musician.  You start out as a poor, aspiring star.  You’ve got health, creativity, and happiness but you also don’t have any money.  How can you get money?  You can tour the local pubs.  And once you get the money, maybe you can record a single or even an album.  If that album sells well, you might get a record contract.  With a record contract comes so much money that you never have to worry about it again and that’s a good thing because, if you go bankrupt, you have to get a real job and the game ends.

Unfortunately, once you’ve signed that record deal, you’re pretty much a slave to the record company.  They’re going to want you to tour and record and make videos on a regular basis.  Tour too much and it will have a bad effect on your health.  Record too often and your creativity will dry up.  Work too hard and your happiness will go downhill and there will be a good chance that the game will suddenly tell you that you’ve committed suicide.

Fortunately, there’s a way to recharge your happiness and your creativity!  You can take drugs!  The game gives you the option to decide which drugs you want to take.  You can drink.  You can smoke marijuana.  You can drop acid.  You can do cocaine and heroin.  You can get hooked on speed.  Of course, you can be a rock star without doing drugs but it takes a lot longer and it’s not halfway as fun.  The secret is to find the perfect balance of drugs and to go to rehab whenever you’ve become too addicted.  (Otherwise, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually end up dying of an overdose.)  Unfortunately, going to rehab pretty much zaps away all of your happiness.  Assuming that you survive the rehab experience, you’re only option to cheer yourself up is to start doing drugs again.  Do too many drugs and you’ll overdose.  You might survive the overdose but you’ll have to recover in the hospital, which again sucks away your happiness.  Once you get out of the hospital, you better call your connection and quick.

There’s only two ways that Rockstar can end.  You can either voluntarily retire, which brings your career and your fame to an end.  Or you can eventually die, which brings your life to an end but which also ensures that you’ll be remembered forever.  It probably sounds like a depressing game but it’s not.  Whenever the game told me that my latest single was the number one song in America, Europe, and the UK, it made all of the drug overdoses and mental breakdowns worth it.  You don’t play a game like Rockstar to win.  You play it to see how long you can survive.  The longest I’ve kept one of my rock stars alive was for ten years.  Eventually, he drank himself to death while on holiday but it was still a hell of a ride.

Rockstar can be played at the Internet Archive.