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Fhtagn!: Tales of the Creeping Madnessis a roguelike boardgame-style interactive fiction adventure for 1-4 players drawing on Lovecraftian mythos with all the expected summoning of cosmic-horrors and depraved human sacrifice, but taking a slightly zanier turn at going gleefully full-evil than Weather Factory's stellar Cultist Simulator and Failbetter's Fallen London trilogy. There's a fart joke that goes on for a good number of clicks.

That aside, the mechanics of the game give the player(s) six rounds to bring about universal pain and destruction by exploring locations where events occur that toggle seven character traits up and down. Ideally, a player will build two traits high enough to fulfill a role in the climactic lunar-eclipse ritual and not fail their assumed task. Problem is, there are hints about which traits will grant success in any of eight roles, but nothing is explicitly spelled out.

Each round, every player visits a location on the map and chooses an adventu…

Two Short Ludum Dare 43 Gems

The Vault is an "escape room" with some interesting mechanics. The Twine styling is perfect, and subtle use of sound effects contribute to the atmosphere and mystery.

Sacrifices Must Be Made is a simple lane-based card battle elevated by a short and very creepy story which felt very much like Interactive Fiction. I beat it in about twenty-five minutes and was disturbed in a good way.

Check out all the Ludum Dare 43 games!

Spring Thing 2018 - ULTRAMARINE: A Seapunk Adventure

ULTRAMARINE: A SEAPUNK ADVENTURE (Seven Submarines) - This appears to be the only full-on Ren'Py Visual Novel in Spring Thing. Seven individuals (submarines?) are credited and a lot of obvious work went into this presentation. The art skews more toward superhero comic than anime, and I got a very He-Man/She-Ra after school cartoon vibe from this. Sexy Mer-People! Look at the hair! I like the visual design a lot but had to turn the music way down  - not because it was bad, but because the music is performed with very synthetic instrument patches that I (personally) couldn't take much of. That could be easily fixed in software by remixing the tracks.

I'm a newcomer to VN, so I'm interested in how the presentation varies from text parser and choice IF. One thing about VN is that there's a lot of text.

A lot of text. I guess I shouldn't be as surprised coming from a complete text medium as I do, but VNs require you to either click forward a lot, set the auto-advanc…

Spring Thing 2018 - REALLY, IF / REALLY, ALWAYS

Really, If / Really Always, Dawn Sueoka (The Orange Juice Public Library- A conversation with a simple AI based on Eliza, one of the earliest chatbots who could hold somewhat natural-seeming conversations by reframing the querent's input as another question in almost psychotherapy fashion. Since this is Twine, the player chooses from a list of responses which sometimes feel random. It seems procedurally generated, but there are only so many ways I can answer...I'm navigating a syntactical maze - am I interviewing it or...

Am I still playing this?

It's not long. It doesn't force itself on you, so don't be put off by the warnings if horror is not your thing - it's not exactly - but Really, If / Really, Always got into my head in a way that most games don't. I know its still back there. It's trying to be quiet, but I can feel it.

Spring Thing 2017 - A somewhat chilly first dip into the games.

Spring is here! Warm sun! Flowering trees! Green grass and--I just went out to move my car and there are snow flurries. I know other regions are getting actual piling snow still, so while it might not feel like a Spring Thing, a new crop of games is here! I often get wrapped up creating my own IF bidness and don't play new releases as much as I should, but since we can't really mow and plant yet, let's take shelter in the gazebo where a bumper crop of 20 entries are festivalling. I don't guarantee I will be able to chip the frost off of all of these hopeful, budding shrubs, but here's a first foray into what will hopefully soon yield thriving IF greenery:

Best Gopher Ever, Arthur DiBianca (Parser Inform/Z) - I had to resist adding an exclamation point at the end of this title. "Help the unfortunate residents of Fairview! (Who are all animals, by the way.)" This is billed as a light puzzle game for all ages and delivers on that. DiBianca has a knack for pr…

Doki Doki Literature Club! (and best playthroughs)

Not like this game needs more praise piled on it, but I wrote up a short ramble worshipping Team Salvato and linking to my favorite playthroughs. I'm not syndicating this on Planet IF due to spoilers, but you can read it on my blog.