Dingo's Reviews - Brimstone Manor (Up Next: AI - Aftermath)

I get the feeling that, unless our illustrious OP is a fan of Rebels or Hyuga, Breach may be occupying the top spot in the ranking for a very long time to come.

10 Likes

I honestly tried to look forward to see how soon some of my favorites are coming up. I have not read everything between now and about the 40-50’s, where there might be some competition.

9 Likes

I just didn’t want you to get into trouble over older threads

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Formorian War
By Liam Parker

"Dagonet: Calm down everyone, Danna what’s the situation?

Danna: It’s bad

Dagonet: How bad?"

So, I’m going to talk a little bit about what I understand about one of the basic differences between Hosted Games and Choice of Games. Hosted Games offer more flexibility in what you can write, like a protagonist with set gender, while Choice of Games titles require that you meet certain standards and requirements, essentially a bit like approved sponsored content for the writers. I know this is a gross oversimplification, but the point is that there is a lot more oversight on Choice of Games titles. Hosted Games titles don’t always go through a strict editing process. Formorian War feels like a first draft of a game idea that could have worked with more time and effort.

General Story:

You are a King Arthur-alike thrust into a war upon Albion against the Formorian horde. You must balance relationships with other rulers, both human and non-human, and attempt to mount a defense against the invaders. After all is said and done, you choose how you reunite the realm.

I found much of the dialogue to be rapid-fire and jarring when considering we’re talking Arthurian Camelot. There are moments of slapstick comedy that feel like they’d be more at home in Guardians of the Galaxy and romance scenes jump between ‘wink-wink, nudge-nudge, fade to black’ to descriptive romance scenes where characters will suddenly remember they never told you they were bisexual, so a threesome is okay by them.

Format and Typos:

Barring talking about the numerous typos, because those ‘could’ be fixed… the format of the dialogue and story is written like a screenplay. Characters are called out, like in the quote above, before dialogue. You are actually informed mid-page (one page had over 1500 words on it) that your perspective is changing. A little further down the same page, sometimes, the perspective changes again. Characters with long names are often abbreviated, like a Sidhe Archer being referred to as SA. Personal readability of this is very low, and while the screenplay-esque dialogue made it easy to know who was talking, it read like a rapid fire dialogue taking place in a vacuum.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

Failstates seem few and far between. Stats felt like they were only checked sparingly, and the majority of pass-fail was related to previous actions you had taken as opposed to your stats. Options are often locked if you don’t meet the specific requirements to choose them. I didn’t find it difficult to discern, in most cases, if something was going to check what stat.

Replayability:

There are a couple of romance options, and different ways to build your army. There appear to be at least a few branches in the end, that will lead you to differing descriptions in your final epilogue screen.

Dislikes:

  • No cohesive writing tone. Theme jumps wildly between Arthurian legacy to snappy banter comedy.
  • Screenplay format does no favors for letting my imagination fill in the blanks. Reads like everything exists in a vacuum.
  • For a shorter game (35,000 words), having multiple pages with over 1,000 words made for a difficult read

Likes:

  • There are some flashes of comedy in the dialogue that could work in a different setting. Instead of Camelot, think Spamelot. The quote in the introduction is an example where the payoff after is genuinely funny and something I’d expect in a Mel Brooks feature.
  • The lore in the game is a great skeleton to hang a story off of, some of the changes to the Arthurian style work well.
  • You can play through the game once, for free.
27 Likes

I’m personally really excited to see how SOH goes because that series is definitely hovering around the number one spot on my list of absolute all-time favorites

Révolution Diabolique
By Chris Conley

”No one at the table seems particularly enthusiastic about your plan. But lacking any serious proposals from others, it is eventually agreed upon, and the meeting moves on.

It’s a disaster.”

I saw a derivation of the above quote so… many… times. Some titles like wearing their stat systems out on their sleeves, while some wear sleeves and ruffles and powder makeup. Révolution Diabolique is the latter. I think Marie-Antoinette once famously said, “Let them read code”. But probably in French, not English.

General Story:

Welcome to revolutionary-era France, where you choose what sort of character you are and how you’ll affect the fledgling world of democracy. Oh, and you summon demons. While there isn’t much dialogue in the game, the majority of it takes place in sort of episodic side stories. Intermissions are actually periods where you learn a little bit about the alt-history revolution, and make decisions based on your character’s opinion. Sometimes this can actually affect where France and the surrounding nations end up. Or it might affect where your head and body end up.

This works so well. Everything is well written, and until you’ve gone through the game a few times, it will feel wildly different if you choose different paths. There is so much potential in the theme and era.

Format and Typos:

Easily readable. Little dialogue, but what is there is really easy to read. You choose a decision, and most of the time the action is explained in results afterwards (such as the intro quote). If there were any typos at all, I didn’t see a single one.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

Oh, boy. This game is a perfect example of one thing working so well and another dragging it down. Game stats are initially portrayed like Storyteller games. Pips with no numbers. So, in my final game, I had 5 pips in Stratégie et Tactique. You can change this to a numeric value, which would be a ranking of 10. I had seen numbers up to a max of 20, but this is where I want to talk a little bit about code. I know the majority of you won’t pop open code and follow it, but I like to do it after playing through the title blind to look at styles and different commands. Basically, it is both cheating and learning. I talked about in the introduction how many times I failed. In some other games, I can learn why in the code. In this title? I did worse with the code open than closed. I’ll never post direct code, but let’s look at what I read as difficulty checks in a late game chapter. So, tough checks have a difficulty of 14 (these checks appear to become more difficult as the game progresses, so a tough check in an early chapter has a lower required score than an upper ranking). You can get 10 in a stat within the first chapter of the game, and you get multiple opportunities to raise stats throughout. But I was still consistently failing throughout the title. Best I can tell? Other hidden stats influence your ability to pass tests. Sometimes I felt like I had double or triple in a stat as to what I needed to pass, and still failed as a disaster. This is compounded by stats just not being very clear. How much influence is a lot of influence? How many favors did I earn with a government employee by saving their life before they hate me? This is a game that seems to want to punish you for trying to optimize stats, but simultaneously require that you do it meticulously to succeed.

Replayability:

And I hate that I have such an issue with understanding how stats work, and what hidden stats are there, because the options the game provides to you are absolutely amazing. I want to explore every single path the game offers, from peasant to bourgeoisie. From selfish overt summoner, to discreet seeker of immortal life.

The only issue I have with replayability is that certain NPC’s have randomized genders that you have no influence over, so if you meet a focused academic who you’d like to romance the next time you play, they may not be the same gender the next time around. And it’s going to take you 15 to 30 minutes to find that out.

Dislikes:

  • Opaque stats, hidden stats, and success requirements that require familiarity with spreadsheets and formulas means you’ll read the words, “it’s a disaster” more times than you want to.
  • Forced randomized gender variability for NPCs, instead of the fairly standard options in most other titles.
  • If you’ve noticed, I haven’t mentioned demons that much. It’s because you can very easily focus on other things in this game, like politics or government work, and have the ‘diabolique’ portion of the title be almost a footnote.

Likes:

  • The theme and era combo is amazing. The history and intrigue along with the promise of arcane happenings, magnefique!
  • Even if I can’t do all the things well, I want to do ALL THE THINGS. I mean, I want to do them well, but there has never been a playthrough that didn’t end with me going something like… “I wonder how a noble who supports the monarch would do if I focused on joining the military and building a demon-enhanced army would work?” after finishing playing a peasant who was just interested in rubbing my rival’s face in the dirt and maybe escaping France before the next war kicked off. So much diversity in each playthrough.
  • Seriously, the amount of content tucked away in this game that you may end up never seeing if you don’t replay it, is immense.

The announcement thread appears to have the writer talking (in June 22) about releasing additional content for the game, so that might be something to look forward to.

26 Likes

I agree with a lot of what you wrote in this review, but I’m surprised that you didn’t mention early Tarantino movies like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs(and for that matter, True Romance) and movies inspired by those movies when mentioning what this HG is like. Because those movies seem like an obvious source of inspiration, both in the general “vibe” and to the point where there’s at least one scene, the burger discussion/conversation you can get very early in the story, that seems like a clear hommage to the conversation about burgers and such early in Pulp Fiction.

I think the use of virtual dice rolls and,at least to a certain extent, the possibility of game overs generally, fits well with the action/heist movie atmosphere that this HG is trying to convey, by helping creating a “will our hero/heroine make it” kind of vibe. But I do think the possible game over in the “surprise mission” near the middle of this HG is too easy to get at normal and higher difficulties, even when maxing out(or near maxing out) relevant stats and since that game over isn’t even particularly heroic, I feel that detracts a bit from the enjoyment of the game, at least if you want it to be fully immersive.

Though I think this HG is good at creating an early Tarantino/action movie-ish kind of atmosphere and at creating interesting characters, I do personally feel quite ambivalent of what to me seems like a huge amount of casual violence. I know that this is in line with its sources of inspiration and in that sense it fits, and that for many of the victims we at least have the justification that they’re violent criminals but it does sometimes make me feel quite uneasy. Part of this is probably due to the fact that it’s set in just a very slightly alternate version of the real world, which makes the violence seem more real and something that could happen here instead of becoming more escapist like in Fantasy or Sci-fi HG for instance and the fact that it’s “you” who are the main character, means that there’s less distance between the one who’s playing/reading and the story than what’s the case when watching a movie. But I think it’s also to do with the fact that the violence seems to be shown in more “close-up” and less distant than way than in most other COGs and HGs and that your list of possible victims also include people who could have been heroes in other COGs or HGs, like members of the police. Note, I’m not saying that it’s morally wrong to present things that way. But I am saying that it has sometimes made me as a reader/player feel uncomfortable and/or uneasy, at least when playing the vigilante route, where my character is either supposed to be some shade of hero or just an anti-hero. To be involved in that violence, also towards people who aren’t villains in any way, just doesn’t feel that heroic, to be honest. And I’m curious both if there’s other people who have tried this HG and feel the same way and if it was also one of the intentions of the writers to create possible ambivalence in the reader/player toward the violence.

5 Likes

The Fleet
By Jonathan Valuckas

”Namely that warfare, for all its terrors, is best approached dispassionately, from a strategic distance.”

The Fleet is a perfect name for an enjoyable, but a forgettable experience. It feels like a codename that was just never changed upon release. That’s not to say it doesn’t have merit, but it’s easily digestible and just like its namesake, the memory will be… fleeting. <rimshot.gif>

General Story:

You are a newly minted Fleet Commander thrust into a leadership role after your home planet is invaded by a hostile force turning your people into a nomadic collection of ships. You must now navigate political alliances, other hostile neighbors, and try to keep your own people hopeful and happy.

There are a few twists in the story, but for the most part you need to be here for the management mechanics. The story is serviceable, if not the main event.

Format and Typos:

No typos as far as I can tell, and the story is very readable. Dialogue is easy to follow, and the game never feels like it wants to dump lore on you before letting you make another choice.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

This is a management game through, and through. You’ve got cannons and fighters, and you must maintain both quantity and quality. On top of that, you’ve got energy constraints that affect both combat efficiency. You have to decide if you want to allow your citizenry to use the energy, or ration it at the expense of their approval. The game will also switch gears into a political arena where you must maintain your home planets potential liberty against the whims of an Intergalactic Alliance who wants to help you, but wants something in return.

Replayability:

You can probably get three truly distinct ending epilogues depending on your own personal stance with the Intergalactic Alliance and how well you managed your fleet throughout the story. This game will feature some variation depending on whether you focus on cannons or fighters, but the real meat of variability is the political stances. As far as I can tell, there is no romance options in the story.

Dislikes:

  • The game feels very dispassionate, even in moments where it should feel more weighty.
  • Combat comes down to just making sure you check your stats screen before you pick something. If you make a mistake, you may not have a chance to recover.
  • The game feels too short for the magnitude of what you accomplish within the time playing it. Every six choices feels like it could have been a full book on its own.

Likes:

  • The political intrigue is well written. I liked the idea that it was very easy to convince yourself of the selfish nature of the alliances, even when it would have been just as easy for it to be just a simple moral decision.
  • Choices are easy to understand, and I was very rarely confused by what I was selecting.
  • Referencing my final dislike, the absolute massive potential of the created world and political landscape felt like it could have occupied multiple books.

No announcement thread for this one. This was released in 2012, so we’re butting up on 10 years. Hasn’t aged a day.

https://www.choiceofgames.com/fleet/credits.html

Game Rankings and Completed Reviews

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Damn, dude, you’re fast

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Yeah, and it isn’t really indicative of what my pace is going to be forever. I get a three week window at work where my commitments are close to zero, and this happens about twice a year. This is usually where conferences or events would happen, but everyone is still a little iffy on forced large gatherings. Gonna try to keep a good pace (around 2-3 reviews a week) on average, but right now… I’ve got a lot more free time.

15 Likes

Missing Wings
By Carlos H. Romero Jr.

"My wings are… missing. There’s not enough time to explain.”

You know those scenes where somebody wakes someone up, hurriedly hands them something and pushes them out the door, all the while the sleeping person is confused and trying to wake up? That’s how I felt with Missing Wings. Just a few ‘next pages’ in, and I’m just lost… It feels like I paid to be let into an arcade, handed an armful of tokens, shoved into the room, and then the door was slammed behind me.

General Story:

You are an angel told by another divine creature that their wings are missing, and that there are tenfold wings. Go find them. Bye.

I’d imagine this is a skeleton of a story on purpose, because this is really a theme park equivalent of a Choice game. For lack of a better term, each hub has a somewhat self-contained story that you must… solve? Puzzle through? Gamble? Click at least 200 times? All of those end up being true.

Format and Typos:

Did not end up seeing any typos, but I also feel like there is not a lot here. Readability is fine, but I never felt like I had enough explained to me and never felt like I could find where it needed to be explained.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

Aside from everything else, this game feels like it was made as a proof of concept for what coding in Choice games can do for minigames and puzzles. There is a section where you must collect bones, by selecting ‘collect bones’ and then clicking next page to collect bones. You can give up the bones to collect them faster, as each one you give up lets you collect them faster, but it caps out at 5 per click. And you must collect 1000 bones.

You increase stats by paying credits, but you earn credits by gambling in minigames or doing other things. You can very safely win a small number of credits in a dice game, but you’ll be clicking ‘next page’ hundreds of times if you really want to max out your stats. You can buy weapons in different metal types, play a tic-tac-toe hybrid, manage a dwarven colony, flirt with an Ogress blacksmith… The list goes on.

Replayability:

The list going on is a big thing to talk about. Wide as an ocean, shallow as a puddle is an apt description. There is a massive quantity of things to do, but each of them is a simple diversion or puzzle that is meant to be a time-waster. Who you are doesn’t add anything to the game really, as all you need is a few hours playing ‘Nice Dice’ cramping your pointer finger and you can max out pretty much any stat you want to.

Dislikes:

  • I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to be doing in this game.
  • Story is possibly a tower of children wearing a trench-coat pushing you out of a door screaming “You’re late for business and fun!”
  • I had to click ‘next page’ a minimum of 200 times to solve one puzzle.

Likes:

  • If you are interested at all in how to use RNG to create Choice code… This game is a perfect primer.
  • The idea of a theme park game is interesting. I just wish I had more of a tether for each story section.
  • Give the game a try for free once. It’ll give you an idea if bite-size puzzles and games are something that is up your alley.

Game Rankings and Completed Reviews

17 Likes

Spot on. I knew Carlos back when he still came around here, and we both had our first stories come out about the same time. It was incredible, the things he could do in ChoiceScript that most others never would have considered. But the story for Missing Wings was always a thin skin draped across the monstrous and fascinating bones of the only robust minigame compilation in ChoiceScript until Interactive Bonbons released years later. It’s such a unique animal that I was glad it existed and had some fun with some of the minigames, but I will freely admit that even using a guide, I still could never finish it. It remains one of the least-reviewed titles on the omnibus for that exact reason. Not many could get to the end to review it at all.

16 Likes

Choice of the Ninja
By Katherine Buffington

”You are to travel to the specified location and immediately bring the documents back. Any questions?"

To keep on theme, I have to ask that you click on Settings, and use a black background if you play this game. Well, dark blue would probably be more realistic. I mean, sometimes just looking normal would probably also be a good way to blend in.

Have you ever read something that you know is inherently interesting, but the words just can’t bring the images to life in your head? Choice of the Ninja delivers an interesting premise, but reads so blandly it was like it was trying to sneak by undetected.

General Story:

You are a young Ninja who must serve their patron with honor. Or do you? The story follows your character as they are sent on multiple missions in service of Lord Sano, against another lord who appears to be scheming for his downfall. Over the course of the story, you’ll succeed or fail, decide to honor your commitments, or possibly even choose a more self-serving path. This is another story that is starting to fall into a category of stories that feel like they just want to be over. Scenarios that could fill other books are done in four pages, twists and turns aren’t fully fleshed out, and the content, while serviceable, reads more like an outline of what the story will be when it’s done. If you are looking for a simple story with low investment, this meets that expectation very well.

Format and Typos:

Readability is high. Dialogue is easy to follow, and I don’t think I was ever confused by who was speaking at any given time.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

Stats were super simple, except for a ‘stealth’ stat that isn’t shown in your stat page. I don’t know if this was purposeful, but all other ones are fairly easy to follow. Stat requirements were also fairly low until the very end of the game, and even then it was easy to meet the requirements. There doesn’t seem to be many early failstates.

Replayability:

I’d wager most people will get two playthroughs of the title, one honorable and one more self-serving. The different stats don’t really add to making your character feel exceptionally different, and the choices you end up making are pretty much only towards the service of seeing one of the two ends.

Dislikes:

  • So. Many. Fake. Choices. First time through, I was happy that there weren’t long stretches of story with no interactivity. But so many of the choices you make don’t affect anything.
  • It’s dry. At one point, you can choose to use something described as a ‘heaven-earth’ move and it reads as exciting as if my character was being described yawning.
  • Ending is a little lacking. Lots of loose threads that might have been left as potential sequel fodder.

Likes:

  • I liked the dynamic in working with a team. You can actually ask someone for their opinion, and choose to let them do the thing they are better at doing.
  • One of the twists in the story works pretty well, and I enjoyed the potential of it.
  • It doesn’t lean on you already knowing Japanese culture, or use any excessive amount of meta knowledge to be able to enjoy the story.

https://www.choiceofgames.com/ninja/credits.html

Game Rankings and Completed Reviews

18 Likes

Interactive Bonbons

By Sam Ursu

“That is a totally different card game! The Old Republic Card Game is just a variant of the traditional Earth game Blackjack, so never say that P-word ever again, especially not in this cantina that, despite being located next to a two-bit spaceport on the edge of the galaxy, has a really talented live band playing at all hours of the day and night.”

This game describes itself like those 1980’s TIGER Electronics style games, and I have to agree. Very similar in style to Missing Wings as a collection of minigames and puzzles, it does a much better job of managing expectations and explaining what to expect. And double points for both having a KOTOR reference and the author having a name that would absolutely fit in the Star Wars universe.

General Story:

There are 10 different games, and each of them have a very minor self-contained story that exists mostly as window-dressing and tutorial. The humor is well done, and if you are looking for something in bite-sized entertainment, this one works pretty well.

Format and Typos:

Game is set up like a hub-world themepark. I did not notice any typos, but the game is presented in a way to provide distraction in the form of sound-effects and emojis, so it is entirely possible I missed something.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

There aren’t really any stats to follow. Each game is self-contained, and you’ll basically be presented all of your information within the specific game itself. Games run the gamut of Pazaak, boxing, tennis, or less Revan-flavored Blackjack

Replayability:

Replayable for as long as you have fun with any specific game. If you like the randomized competition of the card games, this is essentially a text based version. It didn’t seem like you were making any choices that would change how the game ‘ends’, so this really just depends on if you find any of the offered games worth replaying.

Dislikes:

  • Not really what I’m looking for in interactive fiction, but it is a testament to quality code.
  • Difficult to immediately tell how to back out of any specific game.
  • Unsure if I prefer the connected nature of story that Missing Wings had, or if Interactive Bonbons simplicity is to its benefit.

Likes:

  • Easy to understand. Wasn’t lost at any given time.
  • Humor works for a short punchy introduction to any specific event.
  • Revan-flavored blackjack!

Game Rankings and Completed Reviews

16 Likes

Pure pazaak.

7 Likes

Temple of Endless Night
By Dariel Ivalyen

“Sadly, the nightmares don’t want to disappear as easily. While they do become less frequent, you still suffer from them from time to time. That body you saw…it keeps haunting you when you close your eyes. You’re still not sure what it was, and you doubt you’ll ever learn the whole truth.”

One of the jokes about playing Call of Cthulhu in table-top form was that if you wanted to survive, you should play an illiterate, blind, and deaf olympic sprinter. Learning more about any specific mystery was just as dangerous to your sanity as any monster in the… ahem… endless night.

General Story:

A mysterious person hands you a task and a ticket to a caravan across the Egyptian desert to a temple that by divine decree should not exist. Do you brave the loss of your sanity to try and understand why? Can you depend on your divine patron in a place where they may not be able to reach?

This mystery and format work exceptionally well. This is both a mental and physical horror title that lean on your own misgivings more than trying to gross you out. There is a very eldritch feeling interwoven in the game from the moment you leave the river basin.

Format and Typos:

Everything was readable, and did not notice any typos. Dialogue works very well, and the majority of the story is spent in thought. No perspective confusions except where intended.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

You have to manage your sanity and the sanity of those around you as you navigate a mystery. Aside from that, you will be essentially making choices in the game that rely on the strengths of the character you chose. The stat system is relatively simple, and very easy to understand.

Replayability:

There are multiple romantic options and various character backgrounds that allow for quite a bit of playthrough replayability. There is a major character I didn’t even interact with during my first run. Being able to choose a background and divine patron allows for an interesting bit of altered text when interacting with your god.

Dislikes:

  • Dialogue sometimes felt more modern than I would have expected from the era, but this might just be not knowing much about the time period. Or may have been a purposeful choice.
  • Attempts to learn more about the mystery can sometimes literally harm your character’s chances of survival. This feels antithetical to your standard mystery game where knowledge is paramount. This isn’t necessarily wrong, just hard for a player who wants a power fantasy.
  • Ending feels a little shallow depending on what path you take.

Likes:

  • Horror done well in interactive fiction form.
  • I normally don’t like having to struggle to follow what is going on, but this game uses that uncertainty as a sharp weapon against the reader, adding to the mystery and dread.
  • The depictions of the divine patrons are both hilarious and awesome, and lent to some of the lightest and most comedic moments of the story.

Game Rankings and Completed Reviews

29 Likes

Choice of Rebels: Uprising
By Joel Havenstone

"You’ve run only for a minute or two when you hear the timbre of the howl grow louder, more reverberant. The hound has arrived in the hall. Then comes the echo of its panting and snuffling in the tunnel immediately behind you, its talons ringing on the stone.

The first pinch point you reach would only hamper the beast for seconds as it wriggled its great shoulders past a protruding boulder. You almost run onward…but then slow instinctively, some part of your mind sensing the possibilities. Young Earnn pauses with you, wide-eyed and breathing fast. You extend a trembling hand to him. “Your spear, Earnn. Then run on.”

In playing interactive fiction, we all weigh choices against a myriad of consequences. Every click comes with thoughts. “Will this increase my stats, is this what my character would do…” It can even make you care about the question and fear the consequences. This is what Choice of Rebels brings to the world of interactive fiction. Promise I’m not just reppin for the Joels.

When writing these, I keep a list of quotes aside that stick with me. Some positive, some negative, sometimes funny… With Choice of Rebels, I had at least 15 and all were examples of descriptive writing and imagery I wanted to share with you. So many times, you can see someone describing jealousy or desire as simply that ‘I have those feelings’, but how often do you see it described as “a sudden pang, no less insistent than the worst hunger you felt in the winter”. Take the quote in the intro, you can’t read that and not get a sense of the excitement and terror that is happening at that exact moment.

General Story:

You are thrust into the position of leader of a rebel army against a bloodthirsty regime, and the systems that support sacrificing people for the supposed safety of the realm. What beliefs guide your hand? What would you do to keep the rebellious fire stoked? You have to balance these questions and choices with a possible betrayer in your midst, playing a long game.

So much of this story is presented to you expertly in the background you experience as a child. It is so well provided to you that outside of some of the more esoteric things, you feel like you know what you need to, but are ignorant to what you don’t. And that ignorance can even be used as fuel for the rebellion, because it isn’t fair that knowledge is being kept from you. Lore dumps happen, but everything is ‘just’ close enough to something you’d have a concrete analogue to that it is extremely easy to wrap your head around uncommon words and titles like ‘helot’, ‘kurio’ or ‘Theurge’.

Format and Typos:

Extremely readable, format lends itself perfectly to lore dumps. Dialogue is always super easy to follow, and the game does enough work to let you know who anyone is to keep you from being confused. I only noticed a few instances where I had to remember who someone was, and that was during my first few playthroughs.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

Your character stats are super simplistic, but convey so much. Three skill stats, where you are great, okay, and bad. That’s it. Some personality attributes that help determine the driving force behind the rebellion (if you are truthful about it), and then a very efficiently done management system during the harshest parts of winter survival. The choices made during this may be some of the most interesting choices made in terms of balancing the health and well-being of a group against what ethics you’ve decided you’ll operate by.

All of this paired with how the groups that are still within the institution of the Hegemony view you. Do you try to maintain a good image with all of them? I mean, it might be easier to feed your rebels if you raided some noble farms… and I mean, there are some other farms owned by other landowners… It could get you through another week, and maybe free up some of your rebels to learn to read and write.

Replayability:

I’ve played this multiple times, and picking it back up to play again for the review, I got an ending I never received before. There are so many differing paths, and ways of managing your rebels, and levels of success and failure. Failure opens up new avenues as well, portions of the story you would never see if you were perfect. There are a few options for romance (it does seem like there may only be one option for a heterosexual male romance, that is a gender-variable choice). This option still has the potential to be the best one, in my opinion, just because of how well it fits within the story, and the potential for what it could be later. There are about three options in total within the story at this time, however. Better yet, the ‘big’ choices can determine whether those people will stay with you or reject you as you go too far outside of their beliefs.

Dislikes:

  • Some of the mechanics options, like dedicating raiders to certain raids make it a little confusing to understand just how much food you actually need.
  • As before, there is (as far as I can tell) only one romance option for a heterosexual male, which cuts down on the replayability for me as someone who tends towards the idealized self-insert. But only by an infinitesimal amount.
  • The only other complaint I have is that the management portion of the title can often take so long that replaying this takes forever.

Likes:

  • Every single scene is filled with so much description, from surroundings to describing how characters are feeling just through body language.
  • Variability coded throughout the game based on what your character is like is always welcome. A skeptic through and through? You won’t use the name of the main deity in vain, because why would you? Maybe your reluctance to let go of homeland tradition changes up your speech. Small changes like these make reading a pleasure.
  • No other story has made me question my tendency to play a pacifistic do-gooder to such an extent that I personally believe it is not the best way to play. At least this specific title. So much gray, so little black-and-white.

Game Rankings and Completed Reviews

34 Likes

… One of my all-time favorite series next, I’m going to enjoy your thoughts on it, whether positive or negative

5 Likes

I was glad to get an early draw on the review list, and thrilled when you started rocketing through the earlier ones at a pace that meant you would soon reach Rebels.

I knew from reading your earlier reviews that I would enjoy your insights even if you were one of the readers put off by an excess of made-up words, management games, or the relative dearth of ROs.

As it is, I’m so glad you enjoyed it and grateful that you’ve put that into words so well. You’re the kind of reader I was trying to write for. :slight_smile:

19 Likes

Thank you so much for the story, I am very much looking forward to the Stormwright follow-up.

9 Likes