Let’s Play: Ancient Greek Punishment: The Text Adventure (Pippin Barr, Inform) is a short concept/joke piece.
Pippin Barr has made a whole bunch of small games on this theme. All of them seem to be riffs on the same basic idea of futile action, on the idea that a game should offer us progress or success. Here, there’s a brief intro, you choose a classical character to impersonate, and then you do their eternally repetitive torment.
So in more than one sense this is an intentionally bad game, and whether this annoys or delights you is basically dependent on whether it works as a joke. It’s very much not a joke that relies on surprise: quite the contrary. It fits into a genre of parser games which function as a bit rather than a game – Zork: A Troll’s-Eye View, Journey to Alpha Centauri (In Real Time) – and which you don’t really need to actually play.
It’s not broken. Within the bounds of the thing that it is, it’s well-made. Taken purely on its own terms, it does exactly what it sets out to do. But I am not on the correct level of irony to actually get anything out of it.
The Sweetest Honey (Mauro Couto, Twine) is a choice-based story about depression and fear, originally written for a Spanish-language game jam and translated into English. Anima, the protagonist, is middle-aged and divorced; his ex-wife dislikes him and his son openly loathes him; his childhood friend Beto has recently died and his father is in a nursing home; he can barely work up the will to get to his meaningless job.
The premise is that Anima, normally held back by his debilitating anxiety about death, discovers that he cannot die. That premise suggests a certain kind of comedy / redemption low-fantasy plot, something in the vein of Groundhog Day or Liar, Liar, and The Sweetest Honey totally doesn’t go in that direction at all.
Faerethia (Peter Eastman, Twine) is a piece about utopia.
Let’s begin with that title. That title is a lot, my dudes. That title is something that a late-Victorian weirdo called E. Stratford Pillwater would have dreamed up for his utopian novel that is 80% about how many giant animals he shot on his expedition beneath the surface of the moon, 15% about irrigation management law, and 5% about how the eight-foot-tall moon dommes have really eugenic tits. I would never have the guts to commit to a title as extra as Faerethia and I salute the guy who did. Continue reading
Citizen of Nowhere (Luke A. Jones, Inform) is a light puzzle game set in a fictional kingdom.
It reads very much like children’s fantasy: there is an assortment of odd but friendly characters, an animal companion, and a pleasant if not very consistent-feeling world, but not a lot of threat, conflict or immediately pressing plot. On the other hand, I get told to fuck off by a bath-towel-clad giant, so I guess the audience is adults who like low-stakes fantasy. Continue reading
iamb(ici) (Jo Lourdez, Twine) is a game set in the chatrooms of a poetry website.
Most immediately, it’s an idealised portrait of an online art community. The most prominent features: trolls are promptly dealt with; people are generally warm and welcoming to newcomers; and there is a heavy focus on improving artistic craft and on workshopping. Most of your choices are about how you present yourself in this space. Continue reading
Extreme Omnivore: Text Edition (Hazel Gold, Inform) is a short apartment game about being very hungry and wanting to eat things that are not food.
Zozzled (Steph Cherrywell, Inform) is a lightly-puzzly comedy adventure game. It’s Prohibition; ghosts have invaded a Seattle hotel, turning all the booze into water. As flapper Hazel Greene, you’re getting to the bottom of this. By drinking (wait for it) spirits.