IFComp 2015 mini-reviews

by Brendan Patrick Hennessy

Birdland is choice-based young adult fiction about a 14-year-old who, while attending a summer camp, sees strange dreams about birds. Soon the dreams and real world start to converge.

The game has many elements that I generally don't find very appealing, including teenage protagonists, dream sequences, summer camp setting, and almost purely metaphorical/surreal scenes. In less capable hands the outcome could have been disastrous but thanks to above-average writing and skillful game design the overall result manages to avoid most of the pitfalls. Anyone whose personal preferences do match the aforementioned elements should find this one a real treat.

by Moe Zilla

Forever Meow starts as a typical slice-of-cat-life simulator but quickly introduces a twist that averts the common trope. It's not purely the kind of feelgood game the genre dictates because there's a "serious" plot that involves real life-threatening stakes, but once the threat is resolved the ending has again a positive, even euphoric, tone. The story is well worth the 15 minutes it takes to play.

The interaction is slightly more fiddly than it should be. Nodes that advance without choice wait for a keypress but nodes with choices require choosing with mouse click. In practice playing requires having one hand on the keyboard and one hand on the mouse. It also effectively (and unnecessarily) prevents mobile play because there's no way to bring up the virtual keyboard.

by Andrew Schultz

Andrew is known for wordplay based games, but The Problems Compound is only pun-themed. The gameplay is mostly traditional parser IF puzzle solving.

Even though the plot is somewhat random and surreal, the wordplay theme serves as a common thread that gives justification to the otherwise seemingly disconnected elements. The story, characters and geography serve only as excuses to introduce the puns to the game. While the game isn't breaking any new ground, it's solid entertainment for the parser playing masses.

Disclosure: I beta-tested the game.

by Chandler Groover

This is not a review but rather a warning to other unsuspecting players: near the beginning of the game there is a scene that involves extreme animal cruelty, and the choice leading to it doesn't make the fact explicit. If you find the idea uncomfortable it's best to give this one a miss.

Did you find this article useful? By subscribing to the blog's mailing list you will receive an email whenever a new blog post is published. The address won't be used for any other purposes.