Game Review: Deathtrap (2021, Deathtrap Productions)

A trip to the market turns into a fight for survival when you are abducted and knocked unconscious.  When you awaken, you find yourself in a dark cell.  Will you just check out the sealed door, with its keypad?  Will you try to figure out how to unlock the trap door or will you search the bookcase?  Will you make smart use of the stove or will you make the same mistake that I did?  And if you do figure out how to escape the first room, will you be able to find your way out of the abandoned theme park in which you’ve been imprisoned?

Deathtrap is an old school text adventure, one where it’s important to carefully read descriptions, search everything that you can possibly search, and not waste too much time while doing it.  It’s also a game that rewards those who are good at solving puzzles.  Puzzles, of course, are my main weakness when it comes to Interactive Fiction.  I’m terrible at puzzles.  I’m the player who dies in a dozen different ways before I finally figure out how to survive and usually, that’s just because I’ve exhausted every other option.  Usually, I can only solve puzzles by default.

My fear of puzzles aside, I enjoyed Deathtrap.  It’s a well-written game and it’s challenging without being impossible.  (I died several times but I imagine people who can actually solve puzzles might not have that problem.)  The vivid prose does good job of putting you in the reality of being trapped in a dark and dangerous place and it doesn’t shy away from the consequences of going down the wrong hallway or opening the wrong door.  It’s hard not to respect a game that will kill your character just because you randomly opened the wrong door or went the wrong direction or made the wrong decision when it came time to choose whether you wanted to walk or crawl down a hallway.  It’s challenging but it’s also very rewarding when you actually do succeed in surviving and escaping.  How long will it take you to find your way out?

Play Deathtrap!

Game Review: Deep in The Spooky, Scary Woods (2022, Healy)

The full title of this piece of Interactive Fiction is: I Was Too Lazy to Get Started on My EctoComp Entry at a Reasonable Time But I Still Wanted to Enter So I Crapped Out This Masterpiece Or: Deep in the Spooky, Scary Woods.

Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself!  It’s better than anything that I’ve come up with recently.  In this Choose Your Own Adventure style game, you’re in the woods, the spooky, scary woods!  You can cry if you want.  You can build a fire.  You can try to text a friend.  But what you have to be prepared for is that eventually, a witch is going to want to join you and you might very well find your way to Dracula’s castle.  How will you handle it?  How will you interact with the supernatural?  What choices will you make?  Will you get the good or the bad ending?  Play to find out!

Even thought the author states that this game was just something that was put together in an hour, I always enjoy games like Deep In The Spooky Scary Woods.  That’s because I’ve played enough pompous and self-important Interactive Fiction games that I can not help but enjoy one where the whole point is to get the player to laugh and poke fun at the whole genre.  Sometimes, you’re in the mood for Interactive Fiction that is big and complex and full of subtext.  Sometimes, you just want to play something that’s fun, that’ll keep you amused, and which will take less than 15 minutes to complete.

Play Deep In The Spooky Scary Woods!

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.