Ummm… the hunters is book 2 and its only a demo… The monster is book one that will be released tomorrow. Also I can’t wait to read your thoughts. Thank you.
Oof. Got those mixed up. Will get that handled. Thanks!
Just to be clear, I’m not saying, like commenters seem to have suggested, that the level of interactivity should be the only criterion for judging the quality of a cog or hg. I won’t deny that I’m, like you, on team interactive, and that it’s important for me personally that the cogs or hgs that I play feel interactive and I also really enjoy cogs and hgs with a high level of interactivity. But that doesn’t mean that that as long as cog or hg is really interactive, I’d automatically love it. Granted, my favorite hg, Life of a Wizard and my favorite cog, Jolly Good-Cakes and ale are both among the cogs and hgs with the highest level of interactivity. But Pon Para- The great southern labyrinth(along with the second book in that series) and The Lost Heir Trilogy are also in my top 5 list af favorite cogs/hgs and I like them more than Choice of Magics Faeries Bargain-the price of business and (sorry to say, @Havenstone ) much more than Choice of Rebels, despite all of the last third, as far as I can tell scoring higher on interactivity than the first two. So there are definitely other elements that are important to me and that I would have taken into account if I should ever write a review of a cog or hg. And apart from me being sceptical to cogs and hgs that aren’t interactive enough, I like cogs and hgs with many different approaches, both more gamey ones and story- or romance-focused ones and in genres inlcuding fantasy,sci-fi and real world or sort of real world ones. I also enjoy the different approaches of cogs or hgs and many different “writer styles”, so I want to make it clear that I don’t want to cogs and hgs to be “just one thing”, although I do think a certain a level of interactivity is important and I personally enjoy lots of interactivity.
When it comes to reviews and rankings like these, it seems to me that there are two main schools of thought, when it comes to how to approach this. This also seems to be at least partly connected to where the review is placed on a sliding scale where you on one end have those reviews that are solely based on whether the reviewer enjoyed what was reviewed or not and other hand those reviews that are based on a set of explicit criteria for whether what was being reviewed is good or not. It seems to me that your reviews and rankings are somewhere in the middle of that sliding scale, @BourbonDingo, with you always stating what you liked and didn’t like about a particular hg or cog, but still not having a set of general criteria that you always for deciding whether you think a cog or hg is good or not. Anyway. this brings me to the first school of thought, where you have a more general approach and focus on whether a movie is a good viewing experience, not to what extent it fulfils the particular criteria of its particular genre, like a comedy being funny or a horror movie being scary, and in the same way music being a good listening experience, instead of focusing on particular criteria, like hip hop albums having good rapping and lyrics, all the way to reviews of cogs and hgs where the focus is on whether it’s a good reading and/or gaming experience, more than whether it’s got a high or at least decent level of interactivity and any other elements that are specific(though not necessarily unique) to interactive storygames such as these. This seems, at least for the most part, to be your approach, @BourbonDingo.
But the other school of thought, which I briefly underlined in my previous comments. is that, (at least) when making reviews and/or rankings focusing on a specific genre or sub-genre, if there are any elements in that genre that can be said to be particularly important and genre-defining, so to speak, those elements should be given particular importance and hugely so. One argument for viewing it this way, is that good reviews and high rankings can be considered to be a form of recommendations and bad reviews and low can be considered to be a form of anti-recommendations, so that people based on your reviews and rankings (though not necessarily only that) will decide will whether what is being reviewed is for them or not. And the thing is, when people are asking for particular recommendations, like asking for a good comedy or good horror movie, they are very often asking for recommendations that fulfil the criteria or criterion specific to that particular genre. Like, if someone is asking for comedy recommendations, it’s likely that they are looking for a movie that is laugh out loud-funny and if someone is asking for a horror movie recommendation they are also likely looking for a movie that is really scary. I think there are also other elements that come into play, even with horror movies and comedies, so I won’t deny that, for instance a comedy that is laugh out loud- funny but also makes you think is better than one who is just laugh out loud-funny and also may be a better recommendation. But the fact still remains that when most people are asking for comedy recommendations, they are likely looking for something that is really funny I like Wes Anderson’s movies myself, but( with the possible exception of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) I don’t find any of them particularly funny although they are, at least nominally, comedies, and I don’t think it would recommend them to anyone looking for a good comedy in particular, at least unless I knew they liked other movies by him(but if they were asking for general movie recommendations on the other hand, I’d be happy to recommend them).
And I’d argue that in a similar way, what a lot of people are looking for in a cog or hg is interactivity. It could be that this is of less primary importance than a comedy being funny or a horror movie being scary, after all the first three SOH books are among the top 20 HG bestsellers, despite according to your review, @BourbonDingo, having a low level of interactivity. And compared to a comedy or a horror movie there are probably more elements that come into play when deciding whether you like a cog/hg or not. But based on both the many people who have stated how important interactivity is to them and the fact that cogs and hgs being interactive seems to one of the main things that drew many people to cogs and hgs in the first place, I still think it’s a major concern for many of the people reading/playing cogs and hgs. And that’s why I, when it comes to these reviews and rankings, still subscribe to the school of though that says that the level of interactivity in a HG or COG should be weighed heavily in reviews and rankings. I’m not saying that it should be a goal that all cogs and hgs have a, say, choice of magics level of width, it’s more about all cogs and hgs reaching a certain treshold of interactivity, where there’s never really any doubt about whether you are just reading a regular book or playing/reading a cog or hg and you don’t feel like merely a passenger in another’s story and that it should be shown both in the reviews and the rankings when a cog or hg doesn’t reach that particular treshold.
Thinking more about this, it also becomes more clear to me, that while your rankings doesn’t weigh the level of interactivity in a cog or hg that heavily, @BourbonDingo, your reviews certainly seem to reflect the level of interactivity in the different cogs and hgs that you’ve played. So on one level they could actually work as anti-recommendations for those who want their cogs and hgs to be really interactive, when that subject comes up in one of your review. YMMV, though, if the reviews are enough for it to work that way if the rankings are more positive.
Finally, just to be clear, although I do have quite strong opinions about this subject, at the end of the day, I’m aware that it’s far from a matter of life and death. Unlike with politics, where decisions that I strongly disagree with, may affect me greatly, when it comes to art and other creative endeavours, it, fortunately, won’t have such a huge effect what people decide and as long as there’s still new enjoyable COGs and HGs for me to buy, I won’t complain too much. And expecting a consensus when it comes to creative endeavours like these is probably as pointless as trying to herd cats. Still doesn’t mean that I won’t try to convince other people of my point of view, but I like to think that I have at least some sense of perspective and am aware of my different limits and limitations.
Some repetitive cut-and-paste text had crept into your original post – I’ve taken the liberty of editing it down so that you’re only saying things once!
And I’m glad you felt free to mention that Rebels wasn’t your cup of tea. I know that I haven’t always succeeded in what I was trying to do with it, and that what I was trying to do isn’t for everyone. The games you praise are some of my favorites too.
You’re right that interactivity is a defining part of the medium. If someone ever makes a ChoiceScript game with zero interactivity… well, you can do a John Cage once, I guess, and with that you’ve pretty much exhausted the bottom-end potential. But beyond that, it’s not clear where we’d set a threshold, or that the amount of variability is as central to most readers as you’re arguing.
People mean different things when they talk about wanting “interactivity”:
- Does the game let me self-insert/role-play with the MC, or does the MC have more of an author-defined personality? (When you write about being “merely a passenger in another’s story,” it sounds like this is what you’re driving at – but it’s worth noting that this is a separate thing to having a “narrow” or “wide” structure.)
- Does the game break up the text with frequent choices, giving a sense that I’m steering the action? (Whether or not that sense is backed up by actual variation.)
- Is the game “narrow” or “wide” in terms of its choices leading to actual variations in story text and outcomes? This is the most demanding definition, relevant to readers who re-read multiple times trying different things each time…
…and while that last definition is what satisfies folks like you and me, I don’t think it’s the basis for a majority consensus. It’s always been the case that many of CSG’s all-time bestsellers are narrow rather than wide, Heroes Rise and Samurai of Hyuga being the first two that leap first to mind.
You write that “what a lot of people are looking for in a cog or hg is interactivity” – and sure, there’s a lot of us. But I think Devon is right that even more readers are satisfied with the illusion of choice:
I’d add that I think the “wide, but long” games of e.g. Kevin Gold, Kyle Marquis, and Kreg Segall have done great and can go toe-to-toe with “long/narrow” on any measure of success. But I agree with Devon that on all the evidence I’ve seen, the average number of playthroughs per reader is probably between 1 and 2, and that the readers who are vocally dissatisfied with narrowly interactive CSGs are a definite minority.
If we’re concerned about the recommendation implicit in a review ranking, I think Dingo’s reviews give more than enough information on interactivity for people to make an informed call. If someone goes solely by a game’s position in the ranking chart without reading the actual review which is only a link-click away…mmmit’s kind of on them.
When it comes to the different defintions of interactivity, I meant all of them, but particularly definition 1 and definition 3. The definition of passenger is, after all, someone who doesn’t steer the vehicle in question and if you play/read a very “narrow” cog or hg where it seems like the story will basically move along on the same rails, so to speak, and with (at least mostly) the same outcomes whatever you do, it would certainly make me as a player/reader feel more like a passenger. So I think that both forms of interactivity are important, they certainly both feel important to me. Being able to shape your MCs the way you want them to be, whether by self-inserting or creating and “acting out” a particular kind of personality, allows you more control over the personality of your MCs and how they are in general and make them feel more like your own characters, as compared to a character that you (at best) “borrow” from the writer. Having more choices that make a significant difference to the plot, in turn gives you more a feeling of control over the plot and that plot will respond to and change according to your choices, so that you can in some sense be said to steer the plot in a certain direction…
And so they can be said to be two different aspects of interactivity that, at least when done right, together will ensure that you as a reader feel like you’re in the driver’s seat, so to speak, of the cog or hg in question. The second defintion of interactivity is to a large extent about ensuring about ensuring that a cog or hg “reads right”. Just like you can’t have, for instance, have a rap record without any rapping, if you don’t get any choices in a cog or hg game, there wouldn’t be anything to separate it from a regular e-book as far as I can see, at least unless you don’t use randomization instead. And without the cog or hg giving you any choices, the two other forms of interactivity would,as far as I can see, also be basically impossible. But the way I see it, that second form of interactivity is not sufficient for a cog or hg to be really interactive. Instead you need at least one of the others to be present for a cog or hg to be really interactive and I’d argue that you need at least a certain baseline in both interactivity 1 and (at least)interactivity 3 as well for the interactivity to not be lackluster or worse.
And yes, I’ve heard it mentioned before that the majority of people who buy a cog or hg barely or hardly replay it. But I am bit curious if there’s any actual data on that and, if so, what the sources are for that data. Both because it’s always good to look more closely at the reliability of any such sources, just in case and because having direct access to such sources may also lead to a better understanding of what is going on.
Although I don’t want to minimize the importance of any sources indicating that most buyers barely or hardly replay cogs or hgs, I do think it’s important to make a distinction between casual buyers who don’t necessarily buy more than one or two cogs or hgs or cog or hg series and the fans, who are frequent buyers of cogs and hgs and, I guess often are important drivers of the cog and hg market and, I think, also an important group of customers. Although I don’t have any “official” data to back this up, I have a strong suspicion that interactivity, in the sense of being able to create your own MC and/or cog and hgs being wide is much more important to them than the casual buyers. As far as I can remember interactivity and/or replayability(which is strongly connected to interactivity 1 and to) have been stated to be really important by many of the redditors in both the COG and the HG reddit and considering the outlook of people who frequent this forum, I have a hard time believing that this is much less of a concern here. So although it may very well be, at least when it comes to the total number of people buying cogs and hgs, that I’ve overestimated the number for whom interactivity 1 and/or 3 is an important issue, I still think that there’s plenty of people, particularly among those who really care about cog and hgs, the true fans, who care deeply about it, enough for it to be an important issue to consider. Excactly how important it should be, on the other hand, is another discussion. And as long the level of interactivity in cogs and most hgs doesn’t still doesn’t seem to go below the treshold of how much I think it should be and often far beyond that, I’ll still be happy with the current stat of affairs(at least when it comes to interactivity) and fortunately I don’t see any sign of that changing soon.
P.S: If you’re curious about why I don’t rate your COG higher, @Havenstone I’d be happy to tell you more about that, but probably outside of this thread, since I don’t want to derail it too much.
Well I don’t like SOH either but I understand it’s because I’m really not it’s intended audience in more ways then one. Like the authors here said there shouldn’t be a right way to write interactive fiction (besides not being an offensive jerk of course) because it limits creativity and makes authors afraid of getting it wrong
The Midnight Saga: The Monster
By C.C. Hill
"It is said that from October 31 to November 2, The Keeper travels to the world of the living and abducts innocent children.”
"So, those of you going trick-or-treating tomorrow with your little cousins, nephews, and nieces, be sure to keep an eye out for The Keeper of Midnight, as you never know who or what is lurking in the dark.”
Ghost stories around a campfire are as ‘October’ as Jewel Staite in ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’. Which is odd, because usually fireflies are gone by Fall. This story actually reminds me a lot of those days when you’d finish watching an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, follow it up with Clarissa Explains It All, and end your spooky night (around 830pm) with Are You Afraid of The Dark. I am now realizing I spent a lot of the early 90’s watching people in flannel.
So, submitted for the approval of the Midnight Sag… I mean, Midnight Society, I call this review…
You are a young adult who is sent to live with family in the US, bringing seemingly traditional Haitian ghost stories along with you. Turns out, some of those stories might be true and now you have to save those closest to you with powers you didn’t even know you had. You’ll brave the scary stories from your childhood, and try to find your way back to a candy-filled Halloween night.
Honestly, the story works pretty well; especially for a first entry in a series. It’s your semi-standard young adult novel romp, with a chosen one and multiple romance interests… Not a live parent in sight. There are some twists and turns, and everything lends itself to the feeling of a sleepy Halloween in a sparse town, even though I’m not sure it’s supposed to be a small population town. The title honestly cribs a lot of themes from Stranger Things and pairs it with your standard Super Sentai. It’s a super powered team mentored by dead papa Zordon, roaming the Upside Down taking on “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” made sentient.
Format and Typos:
A few typos, grammar, and formatting mistakes. I’ve submitted a few for corrections, and with new release HG titles, this is pretty common as beta testing and proofreading is often crowd-sourced. Nothing egregious, and readability was pretty good.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
Okay, everything really feels like a false front in the stats screen. So often I had trouble figuring out what choices would affect which stat (except romance option selection, those were marked very well) and reviewing the stats screen never really helped. After reviewing the code, it’s because as of right now; the stats don’t do anything but accumulate. I don’t believe I ever saw a check against the stats. You can fail if you choose the least correct option, but it never really matters if you’ve been focusing on using energy blasts or shields, as it depends more on what choice the author decided was correct. It usually goes like this, you choose the best option you get resources (a weapon, some candy, crafting items). Second best option gets you status quo, no losing anything but potential. Worst option usually results in death or damage, which isn’t normally a permanent failstate but an ever increasing death score.
The above isn’t to say that I felt railroaded at any point, but more that I was never really rewarded for focusing on a stat or trying to stay true to the character in my head because there was never any consequence related to the number value of any stat.
Tracked resources are a thing however. How many times have you used that meat cleaver? Weapons can break, but I found the usage very forgiving. So, if you can find a weapon even sporadically, you won’t run into much issue. The majority of your actual game mechanics is just making sure you’ve collected as much as possible during the time given to you.
Replayability is pretty high, and this is because of the romance options. There are quite a few options (some set in stone, others gender variable), and even some polyamory. The title features some (optional) steamy scenes, and they were well written. The majority of your playthroughs will fill the same with only your romance options changing, but there are a few different things you can accomplish in the title that change up major events like whether specific people will survive.
- Stats are not really used for anything. You can spend your entire time focusing on being an awesome energy blaster, but if you use shields when the author implies you should, it will always succeed.
- Creating the ultimate weapon lacked the fanfare I wanted with it.
- The sense of horror and helplessness does not stay at the forefront long enough before you start getting powers more fitting for spandex warriors.
- The romances are the main show here, and work well.
- There is a lot of potential in the main villain, and I am super interested to see how the relationship (non-romantic or otherwise) develops with them. So, for those that like enemy-to-lover, there is a good bullet point for you.
- “However, the real reason is that Mr. Audbawl is a strange one.” Never would have guessed.
That’s a great review. I like how it highlights what’s lacking and need to be worked on and what’s done well that the reader should expect to enjoy. Thank you so much.
My favorite part was this:
That’s going to be my elevator pitch.
Thank you for the story. I really enjoyed it, and I’m happy I got to play it during October (I usually spend the month playing games like The Quarry, Until Dawn, and The Walking Dead Telltale), and it was fun to add it to the rotation.
And honestly, the steamy scenes felt grounded and well-described; which can sometimes be an issue when you have some variability.
The Nascent Necromancer
By Samuel Young
The corner of the demon’s lips twitch upward in amusement. “Creative, ambitious, and most of all hungry for revenge,” she notes. “All admirable qualities in a nascent necromancer.”
Supernatural romance might be one of the most common romps in interactive fiction, but almost as comfortable is the ‘deal with the devil’ sacrifice. What are you willing to give up in order to get the power you need to do the things that need doing? Ghost Rider to Constantine, Spawn to The Phantom of the Opera. This makes these stories feel like a well-worn glove, one where it needs some major twists to really stand out.
After an alleged goblin assault on your village, you begin to realize your brother may have gained powers. But before you can get answers, witch hunters arrive and begin terrorizing you and your friends in the search for your brother. As the story progresses, you realize you may have the same potential for power that your brother does.
This story leans pretty hard initially on the ‘bullied gains power’ trope, replete with the moral quandaries involving nebulous means and justifications. You’ll spend most of your read on the run, learning about the world and lore. The villains are pretty simple fare, with no redeeming qualities, but are interesting nonetheless.
For a story which is a literal power fantasy, I do have some issue with almost every single choice in combat ending with you slightly injuring your foe and then being knocked out (and this is with successful checks). Seriously, you’ll see ‘then you blacked out’ fairly often.
Side note,I was expecting a bit more ‘spooky’ in an October release with Necromancer in the title, but that doesn’t really harm the story.
Format and Typos:
Readability is high. There are a few typos, and there are a few unfortunate coding issues that stymied my first choice romance during my playthrough, with the medic, Tozi. This is already reported in the announcement thread, so I assume it won’t last for too long.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
As the game continues, you’ll build up your various stats like Combat and Agility. Choices can be locked away if you don’t meet certain requirements, but these are visible and easy to understand. The personality section eschews the normal opposed pairs (sort of), There are three stats, Introverted, Extroverted, and Thoughtful. Most choices that affect Introverted or Extroverted will reduce or increase the opposite. Thoughtful doesn’t have a reduction, and this actually becomes an issue because there are plenty of instances where the game checks against your Introverted vs Extroverted vs Thoughtful. Unless you are purposefully trying to be crude and unlikeable, you’ll likely outpace your other two stats, and will be locked out of the choices that require those to be your highest stats. As you progress through the title, you’ll gain one of three separate sets of powers.
Those powers sort of add some basic replayability, but the real draw is pursuing the various romance options. There are 5 romance options (3 female, two male) and each of them have quite a few scenes throughout the story.
- So many instances of your character almost seeming to do something cool, but just being worse than your opponent and depending on some form of deus ex machina. A pervading sense of powerlessness until the end of the story, and almost no payoff.
- Feels like opposing pairs, adding something to oppose Thoughtful specifically, would have been helpful to be able to see more of the options the author wrote.
- For as much as you spend in close proximity with everyone, there are very few reactions to your romantic actions. I think that someone I knew as a friend for a long time kissing another friend would elicit at least some reaction if we were all sitting within five feet of each other.
- Romantic options are varied enough to make it worth playing through each of them.
- The demon that grants you power is interesting and can make you understand what moral choices are needed to end up at the end of the story.
- There is quite a bit of good writing involved in action parts, and I’m looking forward to instances of actual powerful scenes in future titles.
Pirates of Donkey Island
By Gilbert Gallo
You look at each other, puzzled. You can tell from their faces that everybody’s completely clueless. Why does this have to be so complicated? Can’t the Loa simply tell us what they want and from whom?
Some people are Threepwood fans, but me? I’m more of a lagomorph and dog detective fan. Less ‘hit the high seas’, and more ‘hit the road’.
A female aristocrat cursed into the body of her pirate grandfather must guide her crew and herself to the cure. Along the way, you’ll discover whether the swashbuckling and the body suits you.
The story is pure Ron Gilbert and Steve Purcell, painted from top to bottom with a guybrush. That is both the strength and weakness of the title. If you grew up following the secrets, curses, escapes and tales of this LucasArts legend, you’ll feel right at home as long as you feel at home in a cursed body. The splash screen tells you that you’ll decide who you become, but you don’t actually get to start there. So, you are actually playing a predetermined character who ends up becoming (at the very end of the title) who you want them to be. I could see that being a problem for some people who were expecting something different, based on what was missing from that splash screen.
Format and Typos:
No typos as far as I can see. There does seem to be some stylistic choices that may seem like typos, but they read easily.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
Opposed pairs help you decide whether the pirate life is for you, and what tools you use as a pirate. However, reaching back to that point about playing the original LucasArts Monkey Island titles… there are moments where the only correct answers come from past knowledge about the insult dueling quips that were present in the old games. You may not technically be penalized for choosing incorrectly, but you do miss out on some ‘mojo’ for not knowing them. This is a nice reward for those who are here to celebrate Guybrush, but seems really confusing for someone who didn’t end up here because of a love of Monkey Island.
Replayability comes from deciding on a different body, and who you may or may not end up with at the end of the story. There are a few separate endings, so you can probably expect to get 3 to 4 separate playthroughs, and each of them are fairly quick once you’ve gotten a handle on the story. There are also some additional difficulty options for replay, though these mostly alter how many mistakes you can make.
- Depends on nostalgia a bit too heavily. If you didn’t play the titles this is fanservice to, you are at a disadvantage. It wears this badge openly, however.
- Splash screen seems to hint that you might be able to play as a self-insert who ends up dealing with ‘wrong body’ curse, but this isn’t the case. You are a defined character who ends up becoming either the same person or a copy of your grandfather.
- You mostly need to focus on a single crewmember if you want to see all of their content during a single run. It’s hard to spread attention around.
- Classic adventure game comedy that marries the absurd play with the wordplay.
- Each crewmate is interesting, and I wish I had more time with all of them.
- Quite a bit of variability in the ending depending on your personal choices.
By Andrew J. Schaefer
So instead the decision was made to act like nothing was going on. Let people get on board their starship without a care in the world. Let them put whatever they wanted into their (admittedly very small) allotted baggage space. And then, when they’re frozen in sleep light years and decades from home and there’s nothing anybody can do about it, go through all that stuff and throw out whatever you don’t want. It’s not like much is actually destroyed.
Spend too long in cryogenic sleep, and you might end up with ‘freezer burn’. According to this story, that means you may end up not remembering large parts of your past. You are told it’s common, but a new world awaits! What they don’t tell you is in the quote above, that the blanks in your memory are not from cryogenic damage, but from purposeful removal of ‘distasteful or harmful’ memories.
That’s amazing, and terrifying.
Get unfrozen, change the course of history, maybe solve a mystery. All in a light year’s work for a Quarantine Officer.
The story surrounding the moral and utilitarian choices you make work well, but there is a lot of it and little in the way of choices between them. Those choices are meaningful, and impactful, but you mostly see the impact in the final epilogue scenes. It feels strange how broad and far-reaching this title basically promises to be, but continually shrinks further and further in as it goes.
Format and Typos:
Didn’t notice any typos, but readability suffered a little considering how much text was often included on the same page.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
Choices you make end up defining how the world you travel to turns out. Will it be forward facing and enlightened? Do you hold onto the sentimentality from Earth? In addition, you will be investigating a mystery, and the value seems to affect how much you end up learning about your new home and the residents that are already there.
There is actually quite a bit of replayability, if you want to end up seeing the different epilogues and how your previous tendencies towards ambition and corruption might affect how utopic your new home is. I would expect to find at least two or three playthroughs out of the title. These will be quick, because the game itself is only long when you first end up going through it; after you’ll just be looking for the text that changes.
- Feels super front-loaded. Most of the in-depth and super interesting stuff happens within the first few chapters.
- Pace seems to turn breakneck about halfway through the story, but for no real reason.
- For a story about moral quandary and if you are corruptible, I wish there had been more personal connection. Either a spouse, or a romantic interest that is entwined within it.
- The time spent on The Jessica in the early story is rife with potential, and I feel like you could have spent an entire game just in those first two weeks.
- The idea that there is a group of people who get to decide what memories make it into a new colony is amazing.
- The author is very good at describing a slightly alien feeling to your new homeworld.
No announcement thread here. Thanks for reading!
180 Files: The Aegis Project
By Karelia Hall
“Did I tell you about Petrovich’s crocodiles?” Angel says, perversely upbeat. “Too good a chance to miss, especially since it’ll point the blame at him. You did us a favor there. He’s clearly far too unstable to be a good long-term asset. Once we’re done with you, I think it’s do svidaniya for poor Mikhail.”
Ever wonder what would happen if you mixed Totally Spies with a dash of Bond, Powers and Eggsy? Now, turn down the brightness and contrast with the dark, moral quandaries of a license to kill and trauma in the line of duty, and you’d get a whole new direction to take the Files in, Agent.
Don’t forget the cocktail!
After suffering a traumatic event, the titular character Agent 180 with an anti-terrorist covert organization is placed on the trail of a bioweapon. Already under pressure, can they also handle the scrutiny of the legendary top agent, Agent 100?
Now this is a love-letter to Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan, with a postscript to M. Casino card games, dangling from helicopters, and flashing the Doctor’s psychic paper is the name of the game… well, the implied name. The story is necessarily fast-paced and reads like you are watching any spy film from the last thirty years.
Format and Typos:
High readability, and after going through quite a few paths, I’ve not noticed any typos.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
In a trend with some Choice titles, you build your character through choices over the course of the first few chapters. Your past and present determine your skill with technology, persuasion, skullduggery or combat. You also balance a personality that veers between loyal to the organization, to concern about your own well-being among others. These are pretty standard opposed pairs.
Throughout the title, success and failure determine how much information you can collect to hold against the main antagonist and the evil organization of DIABLO. This will determine your ending, which consists of both your overall choices and your assessment during the mission.
Difficulty checks ramp up pretty quickly as you progress through the story. It’s possible to focus on being good at three things, but all of a sudden, you won’t pass checks unless you’ve been focusing on only two things. And then, at the end, you’ll wish you had focused on being really good at one thing. Since character stat growth doesn’t really occur after the first few chapters, you may find yourself deep in the story and suddenly failing at a lot of things.
I found the title to be highly replayable. The ending can vary pretty wildly depending on your overall successes through the different romance options, choices, and paths you pursue. There are branching paths that can lead you through the final confrontation, and how the Agency views your successes and loyalty can affect the style of ending just as much. There are a few romance options (including gender variable, male, female, and non-binary), and the level of detail given to them fits perfectly in your standard Bond style.
- Difficulty scaling without much growth in later chapters feels a bit harsh because of how easy some of the earlier choices were.
- Some parts in the middle of the title confused me a little on how to interact with some of the people I wanted to interact with.
- Choosing equipment felt like it should be done to counteract the things you were bad at, when in reality it was to make the thing you were second best at be possible in most situations.
- Fast pace done well. Too often, stories that feel breakneck end up feeling shallow. The author includes all the details you need, but still makes the world feel like it’s actually moving around you.
- Perfect mix of absurd spy tech, overly suave characters while still representing the moral issues of an organization operating outside of the law.
- Might be one of the few enemy to lover-rival I’ve actually enjoyed.
A Long Weekend
By Nathaniel Becker
”You are the problem. Would you want others to like you? Have you seen yourself recently?"
“Stop it,” you mutter. You throw the book on the nightstand, bringing your hands to your eyes. “Stop it, stop it, stop it!” you hiss through your teeth, hitting your head with your fists. You curl up on your side, clutching the pillow.
You can’t bring yourself to cry.
“You don’t deserve to be able to cry.”
There is a trigger warning on the splash screen that you really should read and think about before beginning this title.
You have a lot to think about, and a long weekend to do it.
This story follows your character dealing with past trauma, present mental issues, and the possibility of no future. Describing it as a rollercoaster would be a disservice because being a rollercoaster might imply it could be fun, but this is more being on a rollercoaster and being afraid the entire time.
Format and Typos:
Pretty good readability. Found one typo and reported it.
Game Mechanics and Stats:
Though the game tracks your ‘mind and energy’, this game is mostly seeing what lies beyond certain choices. Do you stick to your routine? Spend your entire weekend sleeping and browsing a Reddit and Facebook analogue, or do you take up a coworker’s offer on a night out?
After completing a playthrough, the title says there are 9 total outcomes, and 3 separate finales. You can definitely try to find all of them if you want to, but (and I know this is the point) not all of them will end up well.
- Weird mix of “you can choose to rise out of your depression to get a good ending” and a bit of gross voyeurism in seeing how badly certain paths can turn out.
- Might be difficult for the people who would sympathize with the point and purpose of this story to actually consume it.
- I know that, in my experience, a lot of people lean on platitudes surrounding depression but it still makes the story feel a little preachy at times.
- I like that the mental processes were likened to Greek tragedy in the achievements.
- Accurately represents that bit of second-guessing anxiety that wants to try to explain away every good thing that happens.
- It can be a cathartic read for some people.
No announcement thread for this one. Thanks for reading!
Curious to see the Mummy review. It is arguably one of the least popular ChoiceScript games in existence, but my experience with it is that this is not a deserved title.
I’ve actually read it this weekend for the first time, and I can let you know that the cover image probably does the majority of the lifting of that popularity issue. Planning on getting up a proper review tomorrow morning, though.
Very curious about what you’ll think about The Soul Stone War and The Wayhaven Chronicles.
For me it’s evertree saga, heroes rise and fallen hero. It will take a while
Well, it’s also an eclectic genre, which didn’t help either.
I wonder what your review of Tin Star will be like.