Dragonflies like Labradorite

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by Troy Jones III.

I had two free-ish hours in school, so what better time for a Speed-IF? The premise: you are an adventurer, but you can’t go adventuring because you can’t find your dragonfly.

The language is light-hearted, bordering on silly, and well-implemented.

Plot: Straightforward with contextual hints so it’s really hard to get stuck. There is a small clever trick of switching points of view in the ending scene, too.

Mechanics: Sturdy, especially since it’s a speed-IF. I found a minor bug at the last scene, though, which completely prevents the player from continuing and winning the game. A number of common commands (including ‘xyzzy’) are implemented- and amusingly, too.

A lightweight, humorous  game with quite simple puzzles. Good for whiling away about fifteen minutes.

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Mercy

by Chris Klimas

“Mercy, always,” you intone.

You are a doctor, but nowadays you take lives- painlessly, yes- instead of saving them. The smallpox takes its victims quickly.

Language: Very moody… it is very melancholic and is not so much about the epidemic itself as it is about the emotions the PC goes through. There are details in the actions which hint, but never do reveal, a painful past. It sounds melodramatic, but it is done quite subtly.

Plot: I thought gameplay was quite linear, but it is oddly suitable in this context, since epidemics seem to have a life of their own.

The Dreamhold

by Andrew Plotkin

I am fairly near the end of the game and on my first playthrough. Apologies if you feel this is not a fair review.

You are stuck in a wizard’s version of a mind palace: a ‘dreamhold’.

Language: Andrew Plotkin creates a rich and varied environment with just enough details to keep the player interested.

Plot: Straightforward: the player needs to collect six items, though the player must figure out how and certainly why. There is variety enough in the puzzles and they are mostly self-contained.

Mechanics:  Because this is a game aimed at beginner IF players, there is an extensive and comprehensive adaptive hint system. Likewise, my clumsy meanderings have not yet put the game in an unwinnable state, making it a friendly and forgiving game. Despite this, I got lost all the time (navigating curved structures with the cardinal directions is very confusing for me) and the settings pretty much merged into one another.

The Dreamhold is also a good example of games with settings which change on their own.