All posts by Beau


Publisher: Infocom
Developer: Infocom
Year: 1986
Platform: DOS, Mac, Amiga, Commodore 128, Atari ST, Apple II

Rating: 5

On the heels of A Mind Forever Voyaging, Infocom told another story about a nightmare future brought down on us by power and hubris. But rather than a projected future brought along by Reaganomics (which is still pretty damn accurate, dangit), this game explores the impacts of Project Trinity, the first detonation of an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. While the examination of atomic history is impressively accurate and subtly powerful, the game itself gets in the way, with the fallout leaving a pernicious impact on its emotional resonance.

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Developer: Fullbright Company
Publisher: Fullbright Company
Year: 2017
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Linux, Mac, Luna

Rating: 5

I am a sucker for games about abandoned science stations. So needless to say I was delighted firing up Tacoma, where you must explore an abandoned space station to collect all the data on what went wrong. And while the plot mechanic remains engaging throughout, unfortunately the story holds no surprises.

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Murder Is Game Over

Developer: HitherYon Games
Publisher: Meridian4
Year: 2022
Platform: Windows

Rating: 2

Despite the tantalizing and highly suggestive title, murder is just game on in this point-and-click mystery. And yet it is indeed game over soon enough, not only for the victim but also for the player in what turns out to be a highly abbreviated experience. The murder occurs in the prologue as we learn that a rich video game designer has been offed shortly after a tense board meeting and a confrontation with protesters. What follows is a classic whodunit with eight suspects, a detective, and his clue-sniffing canine. Clocking in at just over an hour, its ease of play and charm may satisfy those looking for a casual diversion, but it’s not nearly deep or difficult enough for those looking for a more substantial game.

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A Short Hike

Developer: Adam Robinson-Yu
Publisher: Adam Robinson-Yu
Year: 2019
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Linux, Mac

Rating: 9

My five year-old daughter saw this game on my desktop and asked if we could play it. Fifteen minutes later, my ten-year old son joined us. I had to slow the game down a bit so I could read aloud everything to my daughter, and they doled out advice on what I should do. Two hours of giggling later, we finished it together. And it is one of the best gaming experiences of my lifetime.

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Life is Strange

Developer: Don’t Nod
Publisher: Square Enix
Year: 2015
Platform: Windows, Xbox, iOS, Android, Mac

Rating: 9

I came for the time travel. I stayed for Maxine and Chloe.

Life is Strange begins in media res, our hero Maxine Caufield alone in her thoughts in the middle of a photography lecture at the esteemed Blackwell Academy, a private art school for ambitious high school students. After being admonished by her professor and teased by the class bully, she plugs in her headphones and heads for the bathroom. There she witnesses the murder of another student, and following an emotional outburst of fear and anger, finds herself back in the same photography lecture ten minutes prior, with just enough time to prevent the murder from happening.

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Developer: Half Mermaid
Publisher: Half Mermaid
Year: 2022
Platform: Windows, Xbox, iOS, Android, Mac

Rating: 6

One daunting goal for any game designer is ensuring the player experiences the story as intended while affording them enough agency to experience it at their own pace. Immortality is the third interactive film by Sam Barlow, following Her Story and Telling Lies, the common thread between them being that their narratives are pieced together nonchronologically at the behest of the player. Much like shuffling a deck of cards, no two players will experience these games in the same order, with just a few major reveals held back until a majority of their respective tales have been told. More ambitiously than its predecessors, Immortality successfully manages to tell several stories all at once. While the audience for the stories themselves may be somewhat limited due to the nature of the material, the game as a whole is another impressive achievement of game design in filmmaking.

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Author: Mark Sample
Year: 2020
Development System: Twine
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length Of Play: 30 minutes

My Rating: 9

There are many types of games that can be made with Twine, but seemingly the most common and to this reviewer’s opinion the most frustrating is the game on rails that pretends it’s not on rails. The last thing I want to do after spending an hour playing a game is to replay it with all the different choices and discover that other than some flavor text, nothing has changed.

Continue reading Babyface

Spider and Web

Author: Andrew Plotkin
Year: 1998
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Cruel, but necessarily so (and short anyway)
Length Of Play: 2-4 hours

My Rating: 9

Awards: 1998 XYZZY Awards — Best Game, Best Puzzles, Best Individual Puzzle, Best Individual NPC, Best Use of Medium

Synopsis: You are breaking into a top-secret facility to foil enemy plans. However, you are playing in the past as every time you take an action that didn’t actually happen, the interrogator admonishes you (as you’re tied to a chair) and makes you start over.

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Tavern Crawler

Author: Josh Labelle
Year: 2020
Development System: Twine
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length Of Play: about 30 minutes

My Rating: 7

Awards: 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition — 1st Place

I don’t love RPGs as much as I did when I was younger, but can still get roped in if the focus on story outweighs the focus on stats. Tavern Crawler does just that and succeeded in keeping me interested for a couple playthroughs.

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