Deathless: The City’s Thirst Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Deathless The City's Thirst

Basic Premise: Negotiate contracts to slake a city’s thirst.

Positives

  • The game occupies the same interesting universe as Choice of the Deathless (one of my more replayed titles).
  • The new characters kept me amused.
  • The last choices in a list often made me giggle.

Negatives

  • I never felt a connection to my character and many others’ enormous home city, Dresediel Lex. It didn’t inspire awe or responsibility which made me politely ignore half the choices related to its welfare.

Bottom Line: Recommended. While Choice of the Deathless is still my favored of Max Gladstone‘s two titles, this one’s humor and new characters won me over.

Choice of Games’ Deathless: The City’s Thirst is available on iOS, Android, Kindle, and Steam.

Impressions and review based on a provided code.

The Last Monster Master Impressions and Review

Monster Master

Basic Premise: As headmaster of a struggling monster academy, you must train and place your newest class as the entire country prepares for battle.

Positives

  • The editing and coding are spot on.
  • The entire premise and setting intrigued me.
  • Once the mystery and political plot starts, I was riveted.
  • The various monster school subjects, pupils’ personalities, career options, and relationship standings matter.

Negatives

  • You must choose which training facilities to repair before knowing what order the monster traits shall be trained. I’m the headmaster of the entire school; unless my Monster Master is an amnesiac I should know what we’ll need fixed up when and plan accordingly.
  • The discipline/compassion meter seems to have really large gains and losses. In a few conversations I was worrying about how far off my perceived personality I was going rather than just role-playing my Monster Master.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

  • Oh good. Apparently I’m a junior high guidance counselor. And, after all my time and effort, a particular character is still grousing at me years later. I already have a toddler and social media; I don’t need more whining in my life.

*Highlight Below for Spoiler*

  • ******No matter how considerate and compassionate your Monster Master, Alumig fights you at the end. He makes fair points too – ones that I wondered about during my first play-through. Why couldn’t y’all team up and work for equal rights for monsters earlier in the story or even be offered a place as a useful tool on Alumig’s road to the complete subjugation of the human race?******

Bottom Line: The Last Monster Master‘s choices impact the story, and the writing is solid. The guidance counselor section bothered me enough that I doubt I’ll replay it, but I will check out whatever Serviss writes next.

Choice of Games’ The Last Monster Master is available on iOS, Android, Kindle, and Google Chrome.

Find out more about author Ben Serviss.

Impressions and review based on a provided code.

Creatures Such as We Impressions and Reflections

Creatures Such as We Pic

Basic Premise: Guide a gaggle of video game developers during their tourist trip on the moon. Prod your own expectations and beliefs about art, character development, agency, inequality, suffering, personal responsibility, and death.

Positives

  • Lynnea Glasser can write.  The alien yet mundane setting, the lovely symmetry between the “real” events and the “game” events, and the little interactions between characters when they are not in “philosophizing mode” make me happy she’s exploring new projects.
  • The characters feel like believable types of people even if they do not act like believable individuals.
  • The friendship paths are just as viable as the romantic ones.
  • Whether your personal answer appears on the selection screen or not, you must inspect your positions and beliefs on many issues.

Negatives

  • During the first scene, it’s quite possible to select options that makes you miss that your character’s avatar is supposed to be romantically involved with Elegy. I assumed we were friends or relatives. This made Jason’s later conversation and examination of Elegy and a NPC’s ability and right to say “no” feel like it came out of nowhere.
  • While we’re on the issue of NPC consent: that topic, the first conversation focused on art belonging to the artist vs. the audience, and the ones focused on death all left me wishing for more.
  • About NPC consent: I view the MC in a visual novel (such as Speakeasy Tonight) or the PC in a video game (such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallout: New Vegas, etc.) as his/her own distinct character – not me. I’m curious to see how their stories and relationships (both platonic and romantic) will play out, but I’m happy to watch it not quite work or crash and burn spectacularly. I cannot express that in game though.  :/
  • About art belonging to the artist vs. the audience: Where’s the “it’s totally the artists’ choice; I just wish they hadn’t chosen to make such a **** ending” option? XD
  • About death: This discussion felt the most restricted. I tried all six character paths and different dialog selections. Never once did the subject of spirituality, an organized philosophy, or religion appear. Particularly after having played Dragon Age: Inquisition, this feels like a huge, gaping hole. :/

Bottom Line: Go play it now. While some of the opinion selections are limited and some characters at times come across as ideological mouthpieces rather than people, Glasser’s focused writing raises interesting, pertinent questions for anyone who creates and/or consumes media.

Choice of Games’ Creatures Such as We is available on iOS, Android, and Kindle.

Find out more about Creatures Such as We and Lynnea Glasser’s other work here.

Choice of Robots Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Choice of Robots Pic

Basic Premise: Create a robot and watch in fascination or horror as it influences the next thirty years.

Positives

  • The story has the most branches of any self-contained official Choice of Games title I’ve tried.
  • Different societal and ethical ramifications of creating and depending upon sentient machines are examined, but none of them beat you about the head with one particular view point.
  • The interactions between you and your initial robot are funny without forcing a specific personality on the player.  Try having it read the Stoics at least once.  I’m pleased to find Kevin Gold, the author, is already working on another title.
  • One of the situations I stumbled upon during my fourth game made me profoundly uncomfortable and nervous because the writing made me care about all four of those particular characters. I’ve been less interested in the major plot threads of novels than I was in those two chapters focused on small family interactions. Major win.
  • If you make poor choices or fail certain stat checks, your character dies. Those moments never felt unfair though.
  • The grammar and editing are professionally executed.

Negatives

  • Excepting the baby’s name, every time I typed a character’s name it immediately reverted to the default. Choose one of the provided selections until that’s rectified or prepare to experience jarring sentences such as “my robot shakes your hand.”
  • You cannot argue that Hamlet‘s “To Be or Not to Be” speech is about action vs inaction rather than existence vs nonexistence.

Everything Else

  • This is a longer story compared to other Choice of Games titles. Make sure you have a chunk of time before starting.

Bottom Line: Recommended.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to start a new robot cult.  🙂

Choice of Games’ Choice of Robots is available on iOS, Android, Kindle, and Steam. It’s discounted until January 2, 2015.

Impressions and review based on a provided code.

Psy High Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Psy High Picture

Basic Premise: Explore your newly emerging psychic powers while figuring out exactly why half the students at your high school suddenly seem to be different people entirely.

Positives

  • I really like this cast. Your relationships with old friends, classmates, and acquaintances feel like believable people, not cutouts. I cared about what happened to them.
  • Some choice moments made me think for a minute about what this particular character would do given her/his values before I selected.
  • The dialog phrasing can be amusing.
  • Setting the story in high school let me select the dumb options. I can forgive a sixteen-year-old for being an idiot more easily than a thirty-something.
  • The mystery plot, while not intricate, does not have any glaring plot holes or force your character to be stupid to get to the next scene.
  • I found no coding or editing hiccups.

Negatives

  • The few forced emotional responses really stand out because you’re given so much variety in most situations. For example, your character will always be uncomfortable/slightly jealous of the richer students and their more expensive and newer clothing and backpacks. That’s not what I thought at sixteen (though I admit I’ve always been an odd duck). Also, even though there are several characters available as romantic options, your character always starts attracted to the same one.

Bottom Line: Recommended. This one made the replay list.

Choice of Games’ Psy High is available on iOS, Android, Kindle, and Google Chrome.

Impressions and review based on a provided code.

Thieves’ Gambit: The Curse of the Black Cat Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Thieves' Gambit

Basic Premise: You attempt to steal a jewel and (hopefully) humiliate your rival thief along the way.

Positives

  • Reg, your main partner, always amused me.
  • The editing and coding are spot-on.

Negatives

  • The choices don’t feel like they impact the story. You can choose a place of origin for your character, but in five play-throughs I never found it referenced. You have recruitment conversations for different members of your team, but outcomes are predetermined; the persuasion stat doesn’t seem to matter. Your prior relationship with the two different romantic possibilities doesn’t seem to influence how the story goes either.

Bottom Line: A competently written heist story that fails to give the player much choice or agency.

Choice of Games’ Thieves’ Gambit: The Curse of the Black Cat is available on iOS, Android, Kindle, and Steam.

Impressions and review based on a provided code.

Sabres of Infinity Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: You play a newly minted officer attempting to advance through the ranks and survive a long war campaign.

Positives

  • The plot and setting are fully developed, and a codex is provided if you wish to dig deeper.
  • The secondary characters have distinct personalities, values, and voices. I keep trying different options to learn more about them.
  • Your character is always fairly low-ranking in the social order. I find that more interesting than “and you are now the most awesome bad-ass that ever bad-assed and everyone on the planet is focused on you” some choose-your-story titles employ.
  •  Your character has be-completely-clueless options. Want to ask the bastard why the gentry seem to have a problem with his being in command? Want to ask another officer to give you basic information about the highest ranking nobleman from your own area? I love the little retorts the characters have when answering.

Negatives

  • The “and what do YOU think about a woman’s role in society and military” choice section feels kind of clunky, as though the author is attempting to deflect complaints about lack of gender choice rather than just letting the story flow. The prologue already includes an explanation as to why your character has to be a man and an aristocrat.

Everything Else

  • Your character is focused on his career and doesn’t have time for romantic entanglements. Frankly, I found it refreshing not to have to keep choosing “no” options. Some games make me wish for a frying pan to smack the “DO NOT WANT” into a pushy secondary character’s skull.
  • I’m interested in playing other roles in this setting. I want to hear political intrigue as a maid in one of the duke’s houses, serve as a priest who helps others in their spiritual lives, or pick pockets in the capital city.

Bottom Line: Recommended. I look forward to the sequel.

Paul Wang‘s Sabres of Infinity is available on iOS, Android, and Google Chrome.