The Play

A Dress Rehearsal Gone Terribly Wrong by Dierdra Kiai

You are Ainsley M. Warrington and you are an acclaimed director. Tonight’s play is James Dough’s Nothing’s Fair in Love, Art or War. And the quote pretty much sums up the premise of the game:

All right, Ainsley. This is it. Just one more run through the entire play, and we’ll be all good to go. Never mind that your leading lady had a serious allergic reaction to the face paint and needed to be replaced at the very last minute. And for that matter, never mind that the rest of the cast has only had a grand total of two weeks to rehearse.

Language: Polished- not in the poetic sense, but in the ‘no typos and proper grammar’ sense- and frequently humourous.

Plot: Solid through and through. There is some character development and some really sweet moments which make this game very worth playing.

Mechanics: Nothing special as far as I can see. It’s written in Undum, which makes it rather more like hypertext than traditional IF.

(Found this game through Emily Short’s blog post)


John’s Fire Witch

by Michael J. Roberts/John Baker/John T. Baxter???

Your friend John Baker has invited you for drinking, but (as usual) he’s a no-show, so you decided to go to his house to find him. As you waited, you dozed off. Except now there’s a terrible storm outside and you have no idea where he is. So begins your quest to go find John! …Wherever he is.

Not to give too much away (to the, hmm, five people who read this blog), this is a rollicking, straightforward fantasy adventure which is fairly fun.

Language: Functional, but not spartan. There are, unexpectedly, some comic moments (especially for the death scenes).
<blockquote> John appears to be frozen in the center of the ice in the northern cell. You are worried about his health.</blockquote>

Plot: Uh. Straightforward. No deep life choices here, just quests and puzzles which are well-integrated into the overall story. There are a number of death scenarios. At this moment, however, I’ve died more than reached anywhere near the end of the quest.

Mechanics: The main notable feature is the wonderful, extremely handy ‘undo’: unlike in most IF, where you can’t undo more than one action at a time, here you can undo pretty much as many times as you like. Whee!

Birth of Mind

by Justin de Vesine.

Distant flashes of light tumble through the unending dark mist.

Written for SpeedIF Penultimate, this is the story of, uh, Jack.

Language: Nothing remarkable, really.

Plot: It took me a while to find out how to get somewhere- anywhere. The help menu helpfully suggests that one reads carefully. It may be just me, but it still felt a touch unfair. Still. There isn’t much of a plot, and even when a quest comes up, it isn’t clear what to do to achieve it .NPC interaction was nothing short of frustrating.

Mechanics: Nothing special.


Playable here, written by Sean Patterson.

While I was surfing SN yesterday, this was one of the few worlds which were marked playable (which means at least 25 storylets, and the creator has deemed it playable…naturally). I gave it a try.

Language: The writing is not top-notch at all. Not only are there typos aplenty, as if the world was created in a hurry, it does not bother to create any sort of atmosphere.

Plot: I haven’t finished it, not by far, but so far… it seems to me quite the typical tyrannical, autocratic workplace (could make for interesting psychology) IF. Remniscent of Little Blue Men.

Mechanics: Play can become quite repetitive, too, because it isn’t clear what is needed to unlock more stoylets, or if, indeed, there are more storylets. I’m not sure I want to play on.


Just a little thought to make up for the dearth of game reviews… Failbettergames has created quite a neat world-building tool with Storynexus and I’ve been quite enamored of it lately. It’s slick enough to focus just on the mechanics of the world and the writing and not syntax errors. FBG is known mainly for their excellent browser game, Fallen London, and Storynexus allows one to do similar things. For those who don’t play Fallen London, it’s like the CYOA (choose your own adventure) of eld: you can choose actions (like “” or “”) and gain attributes.

SN provides great flexibility and, although it was released from beta to the public just this year, has already been the engine behind Cabinet Noir (made by FBG) and other user-made worlds. I recommend it for those who are already fans of FL and want to create something similar-ish.

Danse Nocturne

Danse Nocturne cover artBy Joey Jones, as Eggerich von Eggermond.

Written in verse, this game abandons all typical IF commands, instead demanding the player use the form ‘dance <adverb>’. This shifts the focus more towards the verse each input elicits. It’s quite flexible, too, giving different responses depending on the order in which you input the adverbs. There are several possible endings.

But, oh what fun it is to read-

It is always twilight in Ingelheim,
in the forest the lady slides across
the crumpled leaves entranced by Elbegast.
Her nightclothes sweep the same old lemniscate,
with Elbegast’s wood gauntlets at her waist.

Fish bowl

This game was written for IFcomp 2012 by Ethan Rupp and Joshua Rupp. (Parser; IFDB)

You play Larry Wyndcombe, beachcomber, who wakes up in his hut with a fish bowl he’s never seen before.

Language: Rather minimal, though it was atmospheric.

Plot: Relatively straightforward, though there are definite ‘Lovecraftian’ moments (in quotation marks because I have an extremely limited experience with Lovecraft). I thought the resolution/ending was quite sublime, too.

Mechanics: Nothing remarkable.


By Shaye (Twine; IFDB; download to play).

A short-ish IF written for IFcomp 2012. Played this in between studying the nervous system.

Language: Nothing remarkable.

Plot: Short and sweet: you’re looking for a friend in an airport in a country where you don’t speak the language… Mildly interesting.

Mechanics: Written in Twine (Twee, rather) and there were a few bugs here and there which led to an infinite loop, otherwise all fine.