Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:06 am
|The Game of Worlds TOURNAMENT!
Not Another Hero
Parser, though there's a browser wrapper version that looks nicer. It's a seemingly very well thought-out, turn-based card strategy game. I won't explain the rules too much, but basically, you and your opponent control civilisations sharing a world, the objective is to wipe their's out, and the cards you play can change or apply modifiers to various aspects of the civilisations -- growth rate, army strength, traits, rate of technological advancement, etc. You also get five counters to block your opponent's cards, but they can also counter your counters. A lot of strategy comes through knowing when to play cards, and devising on-the-fly strategies based off of your hand and the board to enact.
There's a couple numerical comparisons that I needed to consult as I went along to see which of us was ahead, some of which are displayed per turn, and some of which you can see if you type x life, and it was hard to compare them at a glance once the numbers got larger. I'm talking lines like "Your population grows by <x>. <Your opponent>'s population grows by <y>." Maybe those numbers could be tabulated so they're easier to read at a glance (dunno if Inform would do that well).
I wonder if there's a way to make countering more strategic? Couple times when we'd just trade counters for a while until I gave up. Spitball suggestion is something like being able to sacrifice two cards to counter instead, but then I'm ridiculously unqualified to even begin to balance such a game, so ignore me.
I really don't have much to compare this to, in terms of how deep it is strategically. I do think that a simple graphical user interface makes more sense for this, or even something just more click-based. It's not hard to navigate this way or anything, but it doesn't seem to gain much from the parser. Still, it seems really well done.
I didn't get too far into it, but Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake had a satirical trading card game in a dystopic future where you swapped historical atrocities or... something like that, and I'm pretty sure the reader was supposed to find it horrifying? I don't know if that's at all the purpose with GoWT, but it reminded me of that (review of Oryx and Crake: bad). War, plague, and peace that's only ever temporary in a zero sum world... but playing this isn't that bleak, honest.
The writing is quite good. The card descriptions are clear, and the flavor text is appropriately flavorful.
Best thing: strategic card game, card text.
To the Wolves
A Choicescript game. It reads sort of like YA about superheroes, although it isn't just a power fantasy. It's also been thoroughly proofread, and it shows. You don't have powers yourself, but you're part of a government-backed task force created to deal with super-powered people: "abnomalies." The basic concept addresses limits and the distribution of power, the greater good, public perception, etc, and the government vs superpowered folk has been played around with in X-Men, Civil War, and the Iron Man movies, but Not Another Hero can cover different ground because it puts you in the shoes of those hunting the super-people down.
There's a fairly busy flashback at the start that feels like it could've slowed down and put you in the moment a bit more, but I understand if the author wanted to put their focus later in the story.
I've had a bit of an issue with Choice games that maybe frontload "who are you/what would you do" choices too much at the beginning; I like that Not Another Hero establishes a base first without delving into questionnaire territory immediately.
There is an every-person veneer to your character at least initially that I thought was at odds with specifically being recruited out of college to join the force for no seeming reason, but not that important.
It's hard not to think about the recent debates over US police shootings/brutality while playing through this, and that's something that this particular concept can and does delve into more, and differently, than a super-hero centered one could (even though you have to be careful not to go too far with the analogues). But you're still given the choices of how to approach.
Actual sort-of spoilers:
I decided after I noticed the above to choose the most aggressive options just to see how the game would handle those, and although it went with the intent of my actions the first couple chapters, around chapter five the plot took my role-played character to places they probably wouldn't go. I'm not to bent up not being able to play a full-blown prejudiced character, but I do wonder if there'd be a way to put a more nuanced one onto the thread with the Irregulars in a more character-sensible manner. It's not like chapter five forces you to team up with them to stop a greater threat, or they save your life, or anything, so there's no real reason for you to necessarily come around to working with these people so quickly, or, especially, them with you. Especially since you're just a regular person without a suit then, right?
Not Another Hero is a bit more interested in presenting a specifically calibrated thematic trajectory (although it's not a finished arc) than maybe some of the other Choice games I've played (not too many) which actively present more of a "this is your story!". The scenarios are laid out in a reasoned order, and the game has a good pace to it as a result.
I don't know if the superhero nicknames were necessary in this case. They'd make sense in a superhero deconstruction type of thing, but this isn't that. I don't know if the concept of fictional superheroes exists in this in-game universe, but without the mythologising or the vigilante justice/injustice sort of background to justify them, the nicknames just made it hard for me to keep track.
Not the author's fault (I don't think), but I was playing this on mobile from the comp site across several days, and that worked well, but I accidentally tapped the make your own games in choicescript hyperlink, and that sent me to another page (w/o a new window) and wiped my progress.
On a super-quick second playthrough, after finishing my first one, the choices apparently can diverge a lot in certain chapters. This run makes a lot more sense character-wise than the first run.
Best thing: more narrative focused Choicescript game.
Twine. Running through the woods, pursued by wolves, it doesn't look good for you...
It's not just running; there's also survival, and dialogue, and mystery, and the mystical.
I've said about other comp twine games that they feel like they're experimenting with different things, and this one's no exception; it always keeps moving forward narratively, but there are certain sections where you have to explore a bit and pick something up to use elsewhere, so there's still map-and-inventory elements here in addition to more narrative propulsive parts with choices of action, and dialogue, and even more Choice of Games type what-do-you-think-about-this/what-type-of-person-are-you type decisions. It was coherent and nothing was out of place, but it didn't really seem like these gameplay switches were made for a specific reason having to do with where the story was.
Prose in paragraphs, with good sentence variance. The vocabulary is simple, but used effectively. Really effectively; the text still feels evocative and exciting even though it seems like it'd be perfectly understandable to maybe, a fifth grader, and I think that's a pretty nice accomplishment. I would drop the semicolon from the first sentence because really, it's pretty early to spring that on the reader, but regardless...
At one point it made me think about how few novels and static fiction use second person, because this piece uses a lot of the style of writing that you'd expect in a book, and there was a point where, I dunno, it was just so odd reading so much prose told to you in the second person, prose that sort of happens at you. I don't think it's the fault of the game. But I didn't feel this way about Not Another Hero for example... Hmm. Is it because it's so action? Maybe there's too much second person description of actions at once?
The dialogue links are a bit inconsistent, in terms of what clicking on an option does (new passage, inline, continue the story...), and there were links I would choose amongst several which proceeded to the next passage, which I didn't intend.
The game takes place on a black background with white text, and there are parts where in a movie, it'd fade to black, which I sort of miss here for the scene transitions. Right now they go from one passage to the next, and it felt too abrupt. The skips also do feel maybe a bit disorientating, and it maybe undermines the danger of the setting a bit, basically implying that nothing interesting happened in between. But I can understand the author's rush to keep going, because some of the individual scenes that do happen are fully formed, surprising, and quite gripping, even if the larger story arc is a bit vague.
Also: both a save system with save slots, and an achievement system, and two endings!
Best thing: Shows how to write prose well without needing to use a vast vocabulary.
Not Another Hero would've been played over the course of days, maybe the 6th or so to the 9th. The other two were played before the 9th.