Dingo's Reviews (In progress - Sorting new releases!)

Out of curiosity, how will you handle new releases going forward? Give them preferential treatment or put them to the back of the list?

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Preferential treatment. Part of this is to be helpful to the community, and I imagine it’s pretty important for reviews to happen soon after release.

Also going to move series forward for new releases as well, mostly because I’m going to want to replay the titles anyway. That list isn’t going to last in it’s current form, but a good start.

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Neighbourhood Necromancer
By Gavin Inglis

”This is a genuine occult artifact. The best place for it is your sock drawer.”

If this sounds like something you have heard while sitting around a table playing D&D, you have a pretty good idea of what this title is going to read like. I felt like I was playing single-player D&D with a kid fresh out of middle-school running the table. Considering the first few pages and choices of the game, I’m not sure I wasn’t. And you know what? That isn’t a bad thing.

General Story:

You are a kid living a very British (I’m American, so pardon) life in a very British town, eating very British food who finds a very British ‘genuine occult artifact’. I know everything is very British because Google Sheets keeps putting red lines under ‘neighbourhood’, ‘colour’, and ‘centre’. The story follows in a very irreverent way as you choose how to use your newfound powers for good or evil and determine what becomes of the very British town. Will you raise your town’s spirits? Yes. Is that a pun? Maybe.

Format and Typos:

This is an earlier choice title before they settled on their preferred format, so it doesn’t seem quite as polished as some of the CoG current releases. Aside from that, it was very readable. I didn’t notice any typos, and no grammar issues stuck out.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

This is the first title I’ve reviewed that relied on statistics, and checks against them. While there aren’t many stats, they weren’t always the clearest in what choice was checking what stat. This actually wasn’t a super big issue, because for the most part the stats were fairly generous in both the amount given, and what number you’d need to succeed by. You have some personal stats, and you maintain a number of your necromantic horde. Game often checks against your Humanity or Corruption stat, but these aren’t an opposed pair. Finally, the game tracks how ‘visible’ you are as a necromancer, and can change how you interact with choices.

Replayability:

Seems like you might be able to get a couple of runs through the game without issue. Expect different results depending on your Humanity or Corruption, and you do get a few chances at branching points. There are two romance options, both are gender-variable and one is missable. This seems like a good game to chase down achievements with, as well.

Dislikes:

  • You can try to be subtle, but it seems like there is no way for the world to not learn who you are.
  • The romance options feel like they were mostly included so you could say it had them.
  • Events were super-episodic, and didn’t really feel like there was a cohesive ‘beginning-to-end’ arc. The story felt like it was being made up on the fly, but again, very tabletop.

Likes:

  • Some hilarious writing. “It is a sort of day care centre for bigots which also offers haircuts.”
  • Loved the creativity of the intro, and how it presented character set-up.
  • Doesn’t wear out its welcome. The game is quick and handles pace decently.

As a heads up, I could not find an announcement post for the game, so I’ve linked to the one below. Some of the content in it is spoilery.

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Love what you’re doing, and wow, you’re actually going through these so fast!

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Seems I missed this. Was just working from the website list. Might still look into it anyway, but may not include it in this series. Thanks for the heads up, I’m sure it would have been super confusing by that point.

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Breach: The Archangel Job
By Michael Maxwell and Ben Luigi

“You prepare your light machine gun and point it at the door, then you pull the trigger until you’ve run out of ammo. BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! CLICK…”

Ever want to be Jason Statham, or take his place in a movie? Here you go. Mix one part Transporter, one part Crank, two parts The Bank Job, a pinch of The Expendables and half-bake it for a while. And voila! A raw slab of interactive fiction with a whole lot of complexity, potential and entertainment. Oh, and business jeans. Bon appétit!

General Story:

You are an up-and-coming criminal, who might have a heart of gold and maybe a badge, recruited by The Archangels, a gang with a possibly noble purpose but a shadowy past. You are placed in charge of a ragtag group of misfits (that you actually get to choose) and sent on various heists. You get to plan them, buy equipment to help, execute them to… perfection? All the while, a loose mystery surrounds the ‘Big Three’, a small group who seem to be your direct bosses that never show their face. All this within the first entry of an expected series.

This story oozes with style, and feels like you are playing an extended heist movie throughout. All the twists and turns, even some of them perpetrated by your selected background.

The focus on the heist motif and action does make the plot feel breakneck at times, but that’s almost to its benefit. You’ve heard of a popcorn flick, this might be the interactive fiction equivalent.

Format and Typos:

For the most part, it’s always pretty easy to follow what is going on. Readability only takes a hit when things start getting complex, during certain stat checks or in instances like above where the game actually checks how many bullets you still have left when you choose to empty your drum. Though, I’m still not too sure if I like or dislike it. Definitely stuck with me.

Game Mechanics and Stats:

Everything in this game is pretty much based on a system you’ll be familiar with if you are mildly familiar with tabletop. There is a random chance based on a D20 modified by your character’s skills and equipment that you will pass or fail a check. Difficulties modify this even further by adding or subtracting based on a ‘luck’ stat. It’s hard to completely fail, but there are some failstates that will have you reloading to the beginning of the chapter. Inventory is managed through a pretty clunky menu system based on having to handle accessories for optimization. Honestly, you can get by on some of the lower difficulties without messing with it at all. It’s never difficult to understand what stat you’ll be checking because the game labels options clearly.

Replayability:

I have played this game many times before this review, and could still probably go back through it another twenty or thirty times. There is a lot of replayability, between difficulties, romantic options (there are a lot), weapon customization and optimization, who is in your crew (which affects what side stories you experience), and on top of all that? A New Game+ feature that offers additional story content and a boosted start. I’m probably going to play it one more time after this review anyway.

Dislikes:

  • Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments with characters that seem like they’ll be super important, but don’t feature in the story for long enough. This is the first in a series, so this might just be an issue with this title.
  • For as complex as the inventory system is, it is still frustrating to have to buy a weapon, accessorize it, do a mission, and then find out you have access to a better weapon option now, and have to go through the super clunky shop systems again.
  • Some romance options can be hidden or visibly locked behind either circumstance or chance.

Likes:

  • Romances work, even if they aren’t the focus.
  • I cannot choose a canon run. There are too many interesting options and paths. That’s a good problem to have.
  • There are a good amount of minor interesting things that can make you grin. Taco trucks and kitties!

If I know there is a WIP for a sequel, I’ll include the link to the forum page here in the future. If you know there is a CoG forum link for a sequel and I don’t, let me know! I’ll add it.

Stay up to date with the WIP sequel: BREACH: Chicago War Zone (WIP) (UPDATED! 15-April-2022)

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Your review of BREACH made me finally want to play it :rofl: I’ve known about the game for a long time but I guess the summary wasn’t enough to interest me? But this review is a lot more detailed and I’m surprised that it’s so cool :eyes:

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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.

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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.
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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