Dingo's Reviews (In progress pending release- Teahouse of the Gods)

I feel so incredibly happy and honored, thank you so very much for this :smiling_face_with_tear: :heart:

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No, thank you. It was a treat to read and play when it came out, and it still is now. Trying to pull myself away from it for my next review. Can’t wait for the sequel.

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Your post for Breach: The Archangel Job I found to be spot on. As someone that is an avid player of CoG, HG, and Hearts Choice games, I am quite intrigued by your concept to give your take on whatever game you played. As for Breach: The Archangel Job, I find myself in the same boat as you. The game was and is quite excellently done. Thank you so much for your opinion and reviews.

9 Likes

Archangel was a fun one with a kind of mind-blowing amount of systems. Great review, might give it another play just because.

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Dancing with Demons
By Ivailo Daskalov

”And, she is strikingly beautiful. She might very well be the model of every Goth girl with her long raven hair, short black dress and pale complexion. Except for the eyes - they are like two pieces of an the abyss. Other than that, her facial features are soft and innocent.”

This story feels like a Hot Topic, all eras of it. You start off playing a Hearthstone card game competitively, find out you are a Succubus or Incubus (You know… be other-worldly, count your blessings, seduce a stranger), and you end with the most disjointed selection of popular brands, edgy story-telling, and dark eyeliner. What’s so wrong with being happy? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with darker storytelling, but I’m just here to call out a Warning. We are like frogs, oblivious… Okay. Enough of that. I’m going to go listen to music from 2001, and wonder why my mom never let me buy JNCO.

General Story:

As above, the story jumps from you being a Demon, but not a normal demon. A demon who must balance light and darkness, and determine a mystery of what happened to you and those around you after you are attacked by another unknown demon.

This mystery doesn’t last long as the story is short, and at a breakneck pace at all times. The story moves way too fast to have any investment. Character descriptions are all like the above quote, which can give you a little bit of an idea of how nun Sister Mercy is depicted. This feels like peak McFarlane comic Spawn.

Honestly, I tend to be pretty iffy on stories that start characters off with amnesia to allow lore dumps and teach you about the world, but if any story could have gotten away with it… I think this might have been one.

Format and Typos:

I’m assuming this was written by someone with English as a second language, but it works well enough. There are still quite a few typos, but I reported a few. Some primers were included as options in the game that you could ignore, but I felt like it might have been better included as a lore dump within the story.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

Mechanics run with some minor stat choices, like the use of Whips or Fireballs, and it’s usually pretty easy to tell what is going to be tested. There are some opposed pairs measuring your Light and Darkness (which were pretty easy to understand what would give you what, in most cases) and Protection and Retribution. That second opposed pair was really hard to wrap my head around sometimes, because protection was both ‘wanting to protect someone’ and personal caution.

Replayability:

There is a decent amount of replayability. You have your basic Light vs Darkness run, but there are also a few minor branching paths at the end. There are a couple of romantic options, but I’m fairly certain they are all women. I didn’t exhaust every path, so I may have missed some other options.

Dislikes:

  • Events and occurrences felt like they were improvised on the fly. Chapters feel disjointed.
  • Gender variability for your character essentially only changes the immediate page after selecting it, as far as I can tell.
  • A focus on a few less skills might have helped focus some of the choices and strengthened the style of the story. Powers should feel powerful and wondrous. You lose a little bit when your character uses a fireball like this was a normal Tuesday. You can just feel them yawning while doing it.

Likes:

  • Sister Mercy is a Heavy Metal-esque nun and that is not nothing for those with that inclination.
  • There was a lot of potential in the story about what the difference is between demons and angels.
  • For as much as I poked fun at the Hot Topic-goth culture, the descriptions did work to capture that feeling from the early to mid-2000’s.
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Really good reviews very in-depth and extremely helpful

However might want to remove the post in the dancing with demons and just leave the one in here.

The comment before yours in there was from 2015 and they tend to not like necromancy (aka commenting on a post whose last comment was at least a year ago if I remember correctly)

I’ve seen warnings in other posts about it and I didn’t want you to get in trouble

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I was requested above to keep from creating additional threads, and just link this masterthread in the main game threads for discussion. If they ask me to hold off on doing that in the future, I don’t mind.

Thanks for reading!

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We do prefer to keep things tidy with not bumping old threads, but please feel free to carry on as you’re doing - it’s nice to have this master thread as an index, and linking on the game thread will draw people’s attention if they’re interested in the game in question but have happened not to notice this thread.

Thank you for all the thought you’ve put into this already! It’s really interesting reading thoughts on such a wide variety of games.

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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.

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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.

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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.
21 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.

23 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

17 Likes

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.

13 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

14 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.

15 Likes