Game Review: Taste of Fingers (2021, V Dobranov)

Taste of Fingers is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

You are in a city that you do not know, a stranger in a strange land. You are hiding behind the counter of a small cafe while, outside, the world comes to an end. Whether it’s due to a plague or just people finally being driven mad by the stress of every day life, going outside is not recommended. The cafe is your only sanctuary. Behind the counter, you experience memories of the way the world was in the days leading up to whatever has happened. When an intruder enters the cafe, it is time for action!

Like a lot of Twine games, Taste of Fingers is more of a short story with choices than an actual game. You really don’t have much control over how the game progresses or how it ends. The main choice you get to make is which memories to explore while you hid behind the counter. It’s not possible to explore every memory over the course of just one play through, which does give this game a high replay value. The descriptions of the cafe and the memories are vivid enough that you’ll want to explore them, even if it would have been nice to have had more options. Realistically, though, there aren’t that many options available when the world is ending around you. Taste of Fingers captures the feel of a world spinning out of control. It’s not a happy game but it does what it does well.

Play Taste of Fingers.

IF Comp Review: The Daughter (2021, Giovanni Rubino)

The Daughter is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

The time is the distant future. In a world where everyone is practically immortal, there’s been a death. A girl, who were told is the first daughter to have been born in thousands of year, has been found at the bottom of a cliff. Did she commit suicide or was she pushed? You take the role of Agura. You’re investigating but, because you live in utopia, you don’t have much experience investigating crimes. You listen to what the ancient ones used to call a podcast. The name of it is Serial.

This was a strange one. Like a lot of Twine-designed works of Interactive Fiction, it’s more of a short story with choices than an actual game. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. With the exception of choosing your prononus, the choices you make don’t make that much of a difference in the story’s that told. Clicking on a choice will often lead to a large bulk of writing, detailing the future world but not really moving the investigation forward. The game ends up abruptly without really seeming to come to a conclusion.

I suspect that the author’s intentions may have been satirical but it’s hard to say. I’m not sure what to make of The Daughter but I did appreciate the effort that it went to describe it’s futuristic society. I just wish there had been more for me, as the one in charge of interacting, to do in this work of interactive fiction.

Play The Daughter.

Game Review: Sleepover Rules (2020, Sjoerd Hekking)

In this twine game, a friend invites you to visit his home. He says that you can come over and you can ever sleep over but that it’s important that you follow the rules. What are the rules? He gives you four pages of notes, detailing all the rules for the different times of day.

Some of the rules make sense. When you arrive at the front door, knock twice. If you enter the kitchen and his mother is making something to eat, do not make eye contact with her. Do not bother his father if the old man is watching television.

Other rules make less sense. If you find yourself standing in front of a portrait of a woman, do not move until the portrait blinks at you. If you hear a scream in the middle of the night, pull your covers over your head and do not get out of bed. If you’re taking a shower and hear a sound, do not leave the shower. If you see your friend at certain times of the day, do not approach him because he won’t actually be your friend.

These rules would be enough to make most people stay home but you go anyways. Can you follow the rules and survive the house? It’s not as easy as it sounds because there are a lot rules to remember and there are also a lot of ghosts looking for a reason to kill you. Only knocking once before entering the house is as good a reason to take you out as any. Don’t worry, though. Each time you die, new ghosts and new quests are unlocked and you find yourself standing in front of the house again.

It’s fun for Halloween and a good horror game, with none of the clunkiness that you sometimes find in other big Twine games. The house is great location and very well-described. You can survive by following the rules but it’s more fun to intentionally break the rules and discover all the different ways that you can die. There’s a lot of them!

Play Sleepover Rules.

Game Review: The House on Highfield Lane (2021, Andy Joel)

The House on Highfield Lane is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

Mandy has always been frightened by the forboding house that sits on Highfield Lane but, when she’s walking home from school one day and comes across a letter that’s been addresses to the house’s owner, she decides to finally conquer her fear. What starts as a simple quest to deliver the mail turns into a long adventure as Mandy explores the house, solves puzzles, and even helps to reanimate the dead.

The author of this game described its genre as being “horror without the horror,” because, even though the game is about exploring a creepy old house, there aren’t any of the elements that usually come with a haunted house game. (There is a mad scientist but he’s not such a bad fellow.) This is actually kind of an old-fashioned game, where the emphasis is on exploring and solving puzzles. There’s a lot of puzzles. Solving puzzles has always been my weak spot when it comes to playing IF games. I’m the type of player who always ends up asking for hints or looking at a walk-through. The House on Highfield Lane does come with hints. It wasn’t long after I started playing that I started to use them but again, I’m terrible at puzzles. I think most experienced IF players will be able to solve the majority of the game’s puzzles without having to ask for help.

This is an enjoyable and engaging game. The descriptions of each room were so well-written that I could easily picture them in my head as I played, This game was partially designed to show off the new Quest 6 engine and it does a good job of doing just that. Content-wise, it feels like a throwback to the old text adventures that you would play for hours, experimenting with different verbs and seeing what you could do in each room of the house. If you like exploration-centered games and don’t mind having to figure out several puzzles, this is a game you should enjoy.

Play The House on Highfield Lane.

Game Review: A Man Outside (2020, litrouke)

You are supposed to studying English and building your vocabulary but you keep getting distracted by the man standing outside your window.  It can be difficult to guess the right definition when you know that someone is hiding behind a tree and trying to get into your house.  You text your friend.  They suggest you call your mom.  Is that the solution or is there another way to survive a visit from the man outside?

This is a simple but atmospheric game.  There are three endings.  It was pretty easy to get the good ending.  I had to make some effort to trigger bad ending but it’s worth it because the bad ending is creepier than the good ending.  Other than clicking on the right (or wrong) definitions of the words, there’s really only one decision to be made but make the wrong one or do bad enough on your vocabulary quiz and you’ll soon be getting a visit from the man outside!

Play A Man Outside.

Game Review: Anonymous Connection (2021, moniker ersatz)

The time is the near future. Earth has been invaded by the Hive. The sky is full of monsters. The surface is uninhabitable. You spend your days in an underground bunker, communicating with other survivors via the screen of your computer. Your user name is Blaze. Your friend, who you have never met in person, goes by the name of Topaz. One day, Topaz asks you if you remember what it was like to kiss. The two of you fantasize about the world that once was while trying to maintain a human connection in an inhumane world. What you don’t know is that the Hive is listening in as well, analyzing the conversation and trying to understand what makes humans tick.

There’s a lot more to this game than just sexting at the end of the world. (And the conversation between you and Topaz never gets that explicit so, if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re out of luck.) Instead, the game tells a story about how, even at the worst of times, people need to connect in order to survive. The conversation that you have with Topaz is about more than just getting off. It’s about surviving the bad times by remembering the good. Even though things are bad outside of your bunker, you and Topaz are capable of connecting. The Hive are not. All three of the characters come to life in this well-written, IF game. It’s a simple story that will leave you with a lot to think about.

Play Anonymous Connection.

Game Review: RetroCON 2021 (2021, Sir Slice)

RetroCon 2021 is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

Welcome to RetroCon 2021!  You’ve just arrived in Las Vegas and now that you’ve unpacked, it’s time to decide what to do.  You can go down to the hotel’s casino to gamble and try to add to the amount of money that you already have.  Or you can head to the convention hall and check out Retrocon, where you can play three other unique games.

That’s pretty much the entire game.  It’s simple but it’s also very addictive.  Will you play poker?  Will you bet on a horse race?  Or will you save your money and play an old football game or maybe the zombie killing card game?  There are several games to choose from and, what makes it even better, is that you can switch from one game to another.  If you’re not winning any money, head on down to the convention hall and blow off some steam by playing Last Will and Testament.  And when you’ve played enough for the day, head back to your hotel room and get ready to to play against then next day.

Retrocon 2021 is six games in one and they’re all enjoyable.  It’s almost as good as going to Vegas yourself!

Play Retrocon 2021.


Game Review: an Aside about Everything (2021, Sasha)

An Aside About Everything is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

There are some games out there that are so surreal and borderline obscure that you’re either going to love them or you’re going to hate them but at least you won’t be bored. That was my reaction to An Aside About Everything, a surreal game that will either leave you feeling very frustrated or very intrigued. You are Him. You exist in a void that appears to be your office. You are searching for a girl whose flyer you have hanging in your office. At first, you only know that her name begins with a K. When you leave the Void, you walk around a strange city and you talk to the strange people within. Some of them seem to know you. Some of them seem to know the girl.

It’s not always an easy game to figure out and it’s easy to get trapped in a loop so I would suggest saving the game every chance that you get. Playing the game, I got the feeling that it wasn’t meant to be totally understood by the person experiencing it. The author, though, seems to know what she was trying to say, even if it wasn’t always clear to the player. As a result, this game is surreal but it’s not random. It’s leading somewhere but where is a question that you may have to answer for yourself. The game was well-written, with brief but memorable descriptions of each location and character and, for a Twine game, you had a lot of options for what you wanted to say or do. It’s not an easy game to figure out and definitely not for everyone but I enjoyed it.

Play An Aside About Everything.

Game Review: The Last Doctor (2021, Quirky Bones)

The Last Doctor is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

You are a doctor, working in a dystopian hellscape. You and your clinic are the last stop for many desperate people. Supplies are running low. You are frequently tired and discouraged. But the needy keep coming. One night, a very important patient shows up unannounced at your clinic. He needs your help but does he deserve it? That’s your decision to make.

This is a pretty simple Twine game. It took me less than ten minutes to play it and I get the feeling that it’s actually a part of a bigger story. That’s not really a problem, though. The IF Comp is a good place for writers to show off their work and test whether there’s an audience for a full or more detailed version of their game. The Last Doctor is short and I would have liked more options but it was also well-written. From the opening lines, I could visualize the game’s world and, as I played, I felt like I was in the middle of that clinic, making life and death decisions. It’s easy to see how the game could be expanded and hopefully, it will be. If The Last Doctor were expanded into a bigger game, I would definitely play it.

Play The Last Doctor.

Game Review: How The Monsters Appeared In The Wasteland (2021, V. Dobranov)

How The Monsters Appeared In The Wasteland is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

The world has ended. Chaos reigns. Only savagery remains. At the start of this game, you and your partner are in your hovercraft, making your away across the wasteland, when you’re attacked by a crew straight out of a Mad Max film. From the start, there’s more to do than to just sit down in gunner’s seat and open fire. The hovercraft has been damaged and it’s up to you to make the repairs as quickly as possible. Once you do start shooting, the game’s not over. Ammo is limited and your pursuers are relentless.

How The Monsters Appeared In The Wasteland is a game devoted to the best part of any action movie, the chase. Though the game sounds simple, some of the puzzles do require some attention to detail. There’s more to winning than just being a good shot. This is a well-written Twine game that puts your right at the heart of the action.

Play How The Monsters Appeared In The Wasteland.