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purkka

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A member registered Jan 18, 2018 · View creator page →

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Even if you can smell the looming submission deadline (there's a noticeable amount of typos and text blocks in need of line editing), Ugolino in the Tower has some of the sharpest writing in the competition. It's no-nonsense pacing never slows down after the great opening line; the atmosphere is all in the action, and bits of worldbuilding are incorporated with a careful eye for both the clarity and the stakes of the story and the flow of the narration on the whole. More than just making the work pleasant to read, every quiet moment feeling pointed and weighty does a lot to sell the urgency of the situation.

The imagery is sharp, with the game's particular focus on the physicality of lycanthropy conveying the social situation of the protagonist so well that laying it out explicitly feels almost extraneous. Equally stylish and meticulous is the presentation; a scene of two characters enjoying a conversation provides some of the most striking imagery in the VN. Heavy use of negative space and silhouettes also just matches the mood the narration establishes perfectly! Not a single visual element feels out of place, although some of the assets themselves could use a little polish – unaltered photographs feel slightly out of place with the game's striking aesthetic, and zoom-ins on the sprites' eyes are distractingly low-quality.

When it comes to what could easily have been the most disappointing aspect: the game convinced me of its episodic release model better than any other unfinished work in the jam with its insanely good final stinger. Honestly, I'm pretty content lingering in the excitement of the next part for now, like how good TV used to work before bingeing came along.

Excellent as a jam entry (the weak link probably being the implementation of the theme) and a thrilling start for a VN in general. We'd be looking at a breakout hit if the plain Itch page and the sort of messy, muted thumbnail didn't undersell the game's strong visual sensibilities.

The presentation is kind of rough, first of all – the UI is both really plain-looking by itself and not that different from the Ren'py defaults, even using the same font. Besides that, there are a lot of "missing image" errors. The backgrounds feel well-chosen, however, and the dungeon in particular is a nice interpretation of what that could look like in an urban fantasy setting. I also like all the things the game does with sprites, even if animations aren't as plentiful as they could have been.

In terms of writing, The Greener Side is not a bad read; the pacing feels fast even with all the travelogue in the beginning, the character voices are distinct, and the tastefully implemented worldbuilding wisely prioritizes fun details. The frequent punctuation errors (most often a missing comma) are kind of distracting, though, and some character backstories are exposited smoother than others.

I think the story's greatest strength is feeling appropriately tropey, with the isekai conceit and various other fantasy elements being given an entertaining, gently satiric spin. The ending feels way too brief, however – I'm actually not even sure if this was supposed to be it or if there's more to come, which I guess various unresolved plot points suggest. (It's also very sudden in its implementation, with the instant kick back to the title screen feeling slightly jarring.)

The overall lack of polish betrays that we're dealing with a game jam project, but the story is inoffensively realized and eminently readable. I honestly had a pretty good time with The Greener Side, just wish things could have been pushed a little further all around.

If some other games of yours almost break the fundamental limits Ren'py, then this one might just actually do so; it made my laptop (which is, like, not that shitty and can run Minecraft just fine) scream for mercy. Some of the most visually intense scenes were actively laggy, while button presses in the codex took seconds to register. Limits of the jam and the engine aside, I feel like Wolf Bolo Two might be reaching a point where performance should be an active consideration – a lot of people play VNs on low-end devices, after all.

The sheer density of the visuals is kind of reflected in how the game reads as well. I was confused by the pixel filter at first, but in hindsight, it may be the only thing making it possible to see what's going on when so many characters are on the screen at the same time. Alternate ways to deal with this could have been explored, I think; the worldbuilding would have allowed having the wolves appear and disappear more flexibly. The UI is fun in its theming, though, and downright tasteful while still remaining true to the Unagi spirit.

In terms of writing, I think the conceit is communicated well enough at the cost of a lot of exposition-heavy dialogue. Honestly, battles aside, the pacing almost feels too quick? There's a lot of stuff happening and not a lot of downtime spent just hanging out in this world and forming an emotional connection to these characters. It's too early to judge the plot in its entirety, but I hope the last act has some crazy stuff in store, since everything has felt quite straightforward and literal so far. (oh and apparently the whole thing is a reference to a video game i haven't played, maybe someone who has will have something more insightful to say)

It does feel more than a little disappointing that there is no interactivity to the battle system, considering how many words the story spends on it and how hard the technobabble threatens to drown moments of characterization and plot happening within the fights. The structure even mirrors what you'd find in games you can actually play –there's the tutorial battle against a weak enemy, fights getting progressively more difficult and convoluted, filler random encounters between plot-relevant boss battles...

You just have to wonder: is it necessary to replicate the inspirations this faithfully without some kind of additional layer to provide the engagement you'd get from interactivity? There are strictly linear ways people enjoy this kind of thing – watching streamers play games, card game animes that do a little more to narrativize and dramatize the fictional game – but I don't think Wolf Bolo Two really reaches for the appeal of any of them.

There are a lot of bold ideas executed here. The first minute or so, with its onslaught of wacky exposition and wild visuals, was some of the most thrilling stuff in the entire jam for me. Unfortunately, a lot of the later parts just felt... kind of tedious to read, in a way? The constant references to other FVNs stop feeling exciting after a while, quality banter is too sparse for how endless the battles are, and the plot is as simple as the characters are thin. Really hoping to see a third-act rebound for this, but the currently released portion is far less compelling than your entry last year.

you're welcome for the feedback; hope the jam has felt like a good learning experience & good luck on your future projects! submitting three whole entries is an impressive feat, you'll achieve a lot if you keep putting in that amount of work

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The surreal premise compels me in a strange way, and the dreamlike visuals feel like they communicate the essence of the story. As for the writing, I have largely the same feedback as for your other entries: with no narration, it feels less like a story is happening and more like the characters are explaining a story at you. Characterization in particular takes a big hit here, with so many scenes where characters state their personalities and traits to each other rather than it all being conveyed through a narrative.

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A pretty good read! The presentation is admirably polished – the UI is stylish (I could lose the texture behind the text box, though), and there are plenty of nice audiovisual choices that underscore the horror moments effectively. One thing I'm not quite sure about: does the art style lean too far towards cartoony & cutesy to really work with the genre? This kind of juxtaposition can feel purposeful, but I fear how the characters are drawn is just kind of inherently silly, making the goriest image in Silverstone: The Morning After fall flat. Also, while I shouldn't be mistaken for a music critic, a lot of the songs sounded, for a lack of better term, a little "default presets"-esque.

The VN gets a lot of mileage out of its nonlinear structure. I like how it recontextualizes various details across the routes. Though this may just amount to personal preference, I thought there were a lot of choices, however, especially since most of them served the same function of deciding what ending you were heading towards. The story did not feel difficult to navigate – getting all three endings was straightforward – but more could perhaps have been done to experiment with the mechanic.

As for the prose: smooth to read, largely without the kinds of polish issues characteristic to game jam projects; the horror scenes in particular were full of atmosphere. My feelings about the character drama are more complicated. I think the post-credits scene for one of the routes, where the story goes into retrospective mode, felt like the most affective moment in that regard – the main story itself is so sudden and limited in scope that it's hard for it to hit emotionally. I felt like there was not enough outside context to really hone in the impact of this one night for both parties and really sell its narrative importance.

Also, there's nothing wrong with wearing one's influences on one's sleeve, but referencing Echo while also replicating its central horror elements – a small town known as a hotspot of paranormal activity, a mysterious voice haunting the protagonist via the narration – felt kind of jarring. Maybe it's just that with the setting not getting a lot of description and all the questions remaining without answers, the game simply had no opportunity to set itself apart yet. Still, it doesn't necessarily make for the most thrilling intro to the larger project lore-wise.

While all elements may not play together perfectly well, the amount of work put into the game is impressive, and it has fantastic moments of horror. Looking forward to more, especially if it keeps those strengths while also becoming a little more precise and purposeful in its literary intentions.

Psycho Spiral Beast: incredibly weird and kind of rough all around. Writing-wise, the tense is inconsistent, typos are plentiful, and many sentences flow strangely. The medium isn't used perfectly, either – dialogue is sometimes jankily presented through the narration, and a couple of lines are too long for the Ren'py default text box design.

Surface-level issues aside, the story is just kind of confusing and doesn't feel like it coheres into any kind of clear point or emotion. If "What is real and what isn't?" is supposed to be understood as the central question, I have no clue about the answer. Mostly, I guess, it feels like the plot opens in the middle without ever circling back into whatever inciting incident started it all and ends without a clear conclusion.

I'm kind of doubting myself as a reader here, honestly – did not get it. (No hint of the jam theme either, as far as I can tell.) Points for sound design, though.

The concept is pretty bold and a very difficult one to pull off in shortform – as a result of the therapy session being quite one-sided in its focus on a guy who basically doesn't exist, there are so, so many gaps you have to fill yourself to get invested in the present-day characters and their situation. It's also just a challenge to write therapy that feels specific, especially if it revolves around characters the reader has no prior familiarity with. A lot of the dialogue here feels general and interchangeable, like something any therapist could say to any patient dealing with vaguely similar problems.

I have to admit that it didn't really work for me on an emotional level; the ending just lacked context and finality to provoke a reaction other than "huh, I guess that's what happened". It also feels like the Itch page lays out the premise in much clearer terms than the story itself, and there might be a risk of confusion if you don't read it too closely.

On the art side, the character designs are fantastic, some of the best I've seen in the jam. They manage to both feel cohesive within the fictional world sketched by the story and purposeful in regard to the individuals wearing them, and all the details are just lovely to look at. While I wasn't able to engage with the transformation & journey of Jesper on a narrative level, the two outfits are so good they almost sold the development by themselves. Excellent work there.

How the game is put together feels less polished. I appreciate being able to see the entire designs, but the use of full sprites feels pretty weird, and the UI is both somewhat underdetailed and kind of messily made in general, showing pixel artifacts near the borders. The buttons are also often in danger of disappearing against the background. On the web side, it feels puzzling that the Itch page doesn't have any styling, since the game has a pretty well-defined aesthetic and a clear signature color scheme.

I respect ParaBEN as an experiment and am thankful for its excellent character designs, but unfortunately, the VN just didn't really grab me.

Kind of difficult to get into. The writing lacks polish; the tense is inconsistent, and there's some room for tightening, with many simple actions being described quite thoroughly. What feels like the main event – the two characters interacting – is brief in comparison, and it's hard to get a sense of either as a character or their relationship. Visually, many of the photo backgrounds used are noticeably low-quality, and the extremely simplistic art style clashes with them.

The structure feels a bit disjointed – there's the mystery of what the protagonist experienced last night, then a flashback showing the truth basically unprompted, and no real conclusion that would connect the two parts. I honestly also just cannot make any sense of the explanation or what it's supposed to imply?

Being a part of some kind of larger project, the game feels basically impenetrable without further context. I wasn't really able to enjoy as a standalone thing. (No idea how the game jam's theme is supposed to factor in, either.)

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Really good, though not without its question marks!

Imperfect Facets feels appropriately scoped and tightly paced, telling a complete, satisfying story that doesn't overstay its welcome despite being one of the longer entries in the jam. The worldbuilding is integrated smoothly into the narrative; even without many instances of what you could call direct exposition, the mechanics and the stakes of the whole thing are clear enough, and all the little tidbits only serve to make the setting feel more interesting.

There's a clarity to the structure, with emotional beats and setups and payoffs where you would expect to find them. Elegant POV switches help the game maintain its momentum, and I don't think the result feels too fragmentary for it. The only thing I'm feeling slightly iffy about is how straightforward everything feels after the crucial setup is done – the classic Hollywood second-act twist is missing, and you can kind of notice the story being moved more by inertia than exciting new developments in the back half. To surprise is no obligation, of course, and I get the impulse to not introduce new stuff as the game jam's word count limit draws closer and closer, but I wonder if the finale would have hit even harder with more complications to the plot.

The prose is perfectly pleasant to read; the descriptions of cosmic horrors do their job, and the dialogue flows nicely. In terms of character writing, I'm kind of unsure about everyone having such a short temper – it feels like people yell at each other so much it threatens to pull the tone closer towards farce than intended. The sense of escalation is hurt a little, too, with the visit starting off so horribly it's difficult for the drama to get a lot more intense.

Sound design: very good, but ultimately way too sparse. Everything you hear works, but having such long silences to sit through goes way past what would be appropriate as a means of emphasis (if that was the intent). There are plenty of dazzling magic-adjacent visuals, though, and the cohesive backgrounds successfully convey a mood. The initial car scene feels a little sloppy with how the sprite is placed, but besides that, the work feels very natural in its use of the medium.

Overall very good and largely devoid of the kind of jank and lack of polish you would expect from a game jam project. A solid package that tells its compelling story so well it's made to feel effortless.

Clearly a blockbuster entry in terms of production values. Besides having a lot of nice art and a great central character design that communicates a lot visually, the dynamic animations of The Wayward Tower elevate its information-heavy opening in particular. The original music rules, and though stock photos are used extensively, they're picked with enough care to look cohesive together. The UI feels fully thought out, too – the skeuomorphic icons scream "fantasy", and the font suits the fairly grounded drama of the story while also recalling the journal central to the plot. The text box maybe feels slightly underdetailed in comparison, though.

Smaller nitpicks: some of the transitions feel PowerPoint-adjacent in a way that clashes with the mood a little, and the buttons in the title screen have some sort of weird border around them. These are non-issues in the big picture; it's a gorgeously made VN.

The writing is solid, carefully maintaining a good balance between otherworldliness and the relatable mundanity of the emotional conflict. If feeling harsh, you could accuse it of veering too far towards overexplaining at times ("Warren, this wise master of magic, can be as excitable as a puppy" – needless to state when already shown), but in general, the game doesn't get bogged down in lore, maintaining a mercifully tight focus on the character drama. Bits of backstory feel thoughtfully incorporated, too; there's a sense of the history between these two without the need for explicit flashbacks. Just a really smooth read, honestly.

While the jam theme does not feel like the most important piece of the puzzle (I maybe wish there had been more about the journals), I like the images and ideas the story plays with. Not to get too Literary Analysis 101, but the protagonist's cyclical life of being unable to settle down feels like a fitting representation of the self-sabotage inherent in his reluctance to confess his emotions, even if the magical mechanics of the back half muddle this interpretation a little. In any case, I think the climax works on an emotional level, being precisely open enough.

Just a very good entry all around; not necessarily groundbreaking or rapturous, but a pleasant reading experience that feels solid on a technical level.

Sorry if my feedback wasn't clear & specific enough, let me clarify:

> I do not know when to stop explaining, since apparently I don't know the limit of it?

To me, it felt like there was a lot about the backstory of the characters in comparison to the present-day conflict. It's a tricky balance to get right, and this is just my opinion, but it felt like the story could have focused a little more on the characters interacting with each other.

> ESL-isms

Oh, I'm basically just referring to grammar or vocabulary a native speaker would likely not use that way. One example I can remember: "made the house go to fire". This kind of thing can feel a little distracting to read, although being able to use language in creative, novel ways is also a strength.

> caps lock overuse

There were a couple of consecutive lines that were in all caps (the section starting with: "WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?!"). It's a stylistic thing, and again just my opinion, but I feel like it's best to be a little more sparing with it.

> On the other note I don't know what you mean with back half not being represented with visuals?

I mean that the mushroom wolf lady's backstory felt like a really striking, evocative part of the story, and it was sort of disappointing that it was all narrated to us by the character instead of shown with art or emphasized in some other way. As a general rule, I think visual novels really shine when the most exciting parts are enhanced with visuals or audio.

> And on last note, yeah the design of the original dragon would have been nice to use.

Yeah, it's really good! Hope you get the chance to use it if you ever work on something mushroom-related again!

Hope this clears things up and the feedback feels more constructive than discouraging; writing is difficult, as is finding your own voice and style of doing things. Good luck on your future projects!

The writing does feel raw in many ways – punctuation, caps lock overuse, strange phrasings – and there are enough ESL-isms that it's gets distracting. A gentle but firm editorial touch to hone out the issues would help a lot; you can kind of tell that only the beginning was edited at all.

Besides surface-level polish issues, I'm kind of bothered by the game constantly explaining things. Emotions are sometimes needlessly stated (the "in my angry temper" feels extraneous when she has shown to be angry quite clearly), the flashback does a lot of slightly awkward backstory filling via characters mentioning facts about their daily lives, and the most interesting and evocative moment in the back half is told in monologue without any kind of visual representation of the events. It might be that there's just too much explained in general; the story being this short, the central conflict really needs to be in the spotlight for its emotional stakes to work. There's a decent amount of information conveyed, and you do get a sense of who these characters are (especially the protagonist, who has some good comedic bits), but their interactions in the main plot feel hard to engage with because it's all so hurried and abstract.

The premise is admittedly a creative one, especially in how it uses the game jam's theme. (A fungal network expanding wasn't my first thought when it was announced!) And while the central character design is not bad or anything, I really like the original mushroom dragon lady in your devlog – curse you, MAY WOLF's stringent rules.

The presentation is functional but somewhat barebones on the whole; the backgrounds and music choices are inoffensive, and all the other stuff is mostly just the Ren'py defaults. While the engine does deserve some of the blame, not having the option to choose the language at startup is a pretty painful UX papercut – I really recommend looking into a better way to do it, since you're in the business of releasing dual-language VNs. Some more nitpicks: transitioning instantly back to the titlescreen from the last line is somewhat of a mood-killer, and the title is cut off in the Itch thumbnail.

As for the writing, it's sharp and comes with a clear voice. After having playing that VN, it's fun to spot the NeveN-isms – all the short, witty comments with exclamation marks remind me of Erik's narrative voice. There's a lot of fun character writing in the beginning, and I also like how the game is patient enough to revel in the mundanity for so long that the genre shift really lands. I wonder, though, if having stronger foreshadowing would have made the juxtaposition feel stronger (at the cost of some surprise, I guess).

Overall, I do get the sense that the game could have been slightly more formally adventurous and stronger with its imagery; how the backstory is ultimately revealed, for instance, is not particularly interesting or effective. Just would have been nice to get the chaos and the excitement of the finale get reflected in the form and the prose as well, you know? The poem is well-written and a really nice touch, though, especially as such a stark tonal break. I'd probably call that the best moment of the game, even if I maybe feel like there could have been something in the visuals or the audio to really underscore it.

Anyway, all in all, Blazing Passion is an enjoyable read; my congratulations to the NeveN team for delivering yet another solid MAY WOLF entry.

So, ok, the presentation is admittedly quite sparse – there's no audio (discounting some sort of technological mishap on my end), the title screen is imageless, Hiram's name color is too dark, and some of the backgrounds work quite badly with the sprites in terms of perspective. When a story has such a strong sense of tone & style, it would be really nice for the visual and auditive aspects to reflect it as well. Although the writing feels very natural for the medium, there's really nothing making Maywolf Mysteries feel like it benefits from being a visual novel.

That being said, while information is not conveyed with perfect clarity all the time, the amazing script nails most of the crucial elements of the genre. The characters are memorable in their limited screentime and easy to get a grasp of, the in-story time limit makes the pacing feel sharp, and the solidly constructed mystery itself has a unique furry flair to it thanks to the, uh, mechanics. While the meta elements could have felt slightly tiresome with weaker execution, the wacky worldbuilding is just so much fun it's hard to care. Even the title strikes a perfect balance between descriptively literal and expressive.

Anyway, this might be on me here, but after forgetting to pay attention to the jam theme in particular, I'm not sure how it is supposed to be invoked. In any case, it feels like a missed opportunity not to do some meta stuff with it, considering the tone of the piece.

A quite unpolished game in general, but won me over with its sheer sense of fun.

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First of all: Nalet's Park is nicely atmospheric and comes with an art style that feels like it matches what the evocative prose is going for perfectly. Good music choices, too.

Despite the short length, the conflict works on an emotional level, and you get just enough about the characters. The game does need a little line editing in the form tightening – I think having relatively short lines is just very important for this medium – but the incorporation of poetry is a fun choice that serves the scope of the story well, providing natural opportunities for transitions and timeskips. It's a great mix of formally familiar and adventurous, recognizable as a VN while having such a fresh touch.

As for some nitpicks: the societal conflict in the background could use a little more explication – it feels kind of abstract since so much of it is just in what the characters say. Also, the incredibly brief ending stings a little; given that the prose is pretty good at conjuring evocative imagery, it would have felt right to end on something a little more vibrant than the very simple exchange. The angle for the game jam's theme feels a little obscure, too, although I get how the concept is used in the poetic sections.

Still, Nalet's Park packs a punch for being such a short read. Congratulations on your first published VN.

Cruisin' for Love... and murder – it's a lot of fun! Its satire of reality TV is delightful, and its tasteful use of NVL mode keeps the game feeling dynamic to read while also smoothing over the timeskips. Although the art is very "game jam" in its level of polish & detail, things like the animated title screen and the use of music to indicate when the characters are on camera are very much appreciated, as are the accessibility options. In general, the work feels like a VN very in touch with its medium.

It won't probably surprise you to hear that being unfinished hurts the overall product a lot. I have to admit: not even having the titular murder in the story yet felt blue-balling to the degree that I started second-guessing whether I had imagined the second part of the title all along. The plot elements Cruisin' is playing with – murder mystery, a competition with a clearly defined endpoint – just have a very hard time shining without a climax in sight. I think leaning further into the reality TV inspiration and structuring the VN like an episode of one of those could have salvaged the concept, but this stretch is just too brief to really have an internal structure or a clear arc with a satisfying payoff.

I'd love, love to see more of this, but the currently released portion just reads badly as a standalone package and is hard to rate favorably as an entry in the game jam. (Also, as a sidenote, I'm having a hard time figuring out the connection to the theme?)

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Easily a standout entry; utterly charming and competently written, with a steadily executed aesthetic that gives the game a unique visual identity before you even download it. The character designs are all brilliant and don't feel even slightly burdened by the lack of colors, and the illustrations play with the visual language of comics in what feels like a fitting nod towards the obvious influences. Full points for style.

The interpretation of the game jam's theme is fine; I get it, even if the slightly weird repetition of the word "expanding" feels like the most explicit sign of that being what prompted the story. It could have felt weightier in some other way, I suppose. At first, I honestly thought it was going to be one of those "expand your horizons" cases since that feels more fundamental to the story on an emotional level and the "expand your time with him" angle mostly just sets off the plot.

The first couple of scenes are fantastic – there's a fun satiric touch to how the game uses its archetypical characters to examine a setting where queerness is unremarkable, with the high school bad boy using his frankly bizarre grip on the entire institution to stage an elaborate confession of gay love. As the story goes on, however, the sense of escalation to the drama and the absurdity of it all feels pretty muted, and the conclusion comes off as a little jarring in how sudden it is. I like the full-color illustration, though – it's visually punchy, one of those things that remains an enduring classic because it works.

But if the original ending is sort of weak, the very last part (which I'm understanding is some kind of bonus thing added after the initial release) feels even less appropriate as a stopping point. The scene itself is cute and fun like the rest of it, but it's more in the business of filling the gaps than revealing anything genuinely new about the dynamic of these characters, presenting a final turning point, or summarizing the journey so far. I wish there had been a stronger, more conclusive note to really cap off the narrative gracefully.

Let's not be hyperbolic and say the ending ruins the entire game or anything, but I'm Now the School Delinquent's Lover, but I Want Out!! does feel a little underwhelming on the whole, a great setup in need of a conclusion to match its highs. Still, very enjoyable, can't imagine anyone having a bad time playing it.

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thanks for your extensive comment! respectfully: i feel like you're overthinking a lot of things.

this kind of text just works such that there is no coherent fictional reality to it, no consistent logic behind how its various layers correspond to each other or what functions the characters serve in any given scene. starting with a clearly "non-narrative" bit to frame the rest was a very deliberate choice; that's the primary lens you're supposed to be reading the game through.

despite it being subordinate the essay-esque framing, there is a story somewhere in there, true. if i had to explain it myself, i'd say it's about two guys getting whisked away from their seemingly mundane lives into a postmodern hellscape where their fates are suddenly controlled by an incomprehensible, shifting metaphor, Helsinki's sudden real-life legal intrusion manifesting as a narrative one in the fiction. this is the basis for the drama, but also for the comedy, and particularly how they intersect: many of the jokes serve to undercut the coherency of the storyworld to cruelly underline the absurd horrors the characters are now facing.

whether this works or is fun to read is up to every reader to decide, of course. i guess it's an easy text to read "wrong" in the sense that there's a very specific way it demands you engage with it. i'm honestly somewhat surprised that so much of the reader response so far feels like people get my literary intentions!

anyway, as a result, i don't really have much to say to most of your comments. as for some specific ones i can try to elaborate on:

> She says things that are inconsistent with her character (someone posh saying balancussy?).

the word choice is an attempt to translate the specific pun from the original script, which i felt was important enough to not change into some other kind of joke. i honestly dislike the final result more for being anachronistic to 2006, and would gladly change it if anything better occurred to me.

in general, though, i think it's not too far from the character's voice, since Helsinki's whole point is the ambiguity of how much her "sophisticated city folk" thing is a role she plays and how much it's just what she's like (and what the difference would even be).

> the movie theatre scene felt more like you advertising your taste in media

well, i'd say the major references are pretty purposeful in their intertextual meanings. the whole scene being a homage to Kaurismäki's FALLEN LEAVES is a deliberate move to put the game in conversation with his filmography, particularly his brand of comedy, and it's worth noting that this is a reference the average Finnish reader is expected to probably get. as for SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY, the film the characters watch, the countryside/city dualism in that one is relevant in a fairly obvious way.

(even in more general terms, the soap opera the guys watch vs. Helsinki's preferred arthouse cinema is pretty central to how the text constructs the positions the characters represent and returns in a very big way later on. honestly, i worried the first date was too load-bearing since it had so much important material compared to the other two.)

> The third date didn't even have an outcome, but had Dom propose Sipoo's plan on behalf of Sipoo?

yeah. just pointing out that this is one of those places where you really don't want to over/underthink things – the rift arising between Dom and Sipoo in the story dramatizes the internal tensions in Sipoo's local politics resulting from how those two guys mishandled the private negotiations with Helsinki

> Is the Vanta panda joke a commentary on the region? We barely interact with Vanta throughout the work. What it is trying to say with that absurdist joke?

it's a specific reference i won't bother going into here, but more importantly, Vantaa is kind of just a guy who shows up, gladly hands Helsinki the key to her scheme (the Wedge of Vesterkulla) with no clear motive of his own, and refuses to elaborate. this is more or less how it went down in real life, too.

> I did like the presentation of the map screens, and the use of transitions, although the font you used made Sipoo look liked SIP(two number zeros). Skinny O's become 0's.

true, though you'll have to send this feedback to whoever designed the road signs in Finland! (what i'm using is someone's CC0-licensed reconstruction of the font, but it's very close to the real thing.) i guess there is no risk of confusion in practice, since place names don't tend to have numbers in them.

The writing is generally pretty pleasant to read and feels polished; character voices are adequately distinct, descriptions do their job. In terms of pacing and structure, the opening feels quite weak – no need to do the whole "I just woke up" routine if there isn't life-savingly important setup in there – but the story moves fast enough after that.

Mostly, I think it just felt kind of impactless? While I get that the premise itself doesn't come with the highest of stakes, the whole thing feels so devoid of conflict and tension. Not every scene feels like it really progresses the central relationship, and both Callum and the protagonist feel ultimately quite flat as characters.

I think this kind of lowkey slice-of-life thing lives and dies by its style and flavor, and Beginning Anew with You might not quite be there. The writing is detail-oriented, yes, but it spends a lot of time talking about fictional video games and comparatively little fleshing out the setting and the characters. There's nothing straight up unenjoyable in the game, but for being more than 10 000 words long and having plenty of space to make its point, it feels like it's missing a hook, the memorable thing that makes it interesting to read.

The production values are impressive for a game jam project – the sprites are plentiful and detailed, music & background images suit the story, and the fully custom UI is a nice touch. The prose feels good to read, too, with the English version repeating words sometimes being the biggest nitpick I can point out. (I particularly appreciate having the option to change the language right in the title screen, since God's silliest game engine Ren'py just hides it in the settings by default...)

The plot feels meaty but never overstuffed; there are a lot of scenes, characters, and locations, but everything serves its purpose. The jam theme is interpreted creatively, although you could grumble about the game not really engaging with the image itself that much. Still, it's just a very solid piece of writing, competently put together on a technical level and constantly enjoyable to read.

I think the biggest question mark is Roy just being so, so, unlikeable from the first time you meet him. It makes TUNING OUT read almost as an anti-narrative subversion of its classic VN premise – you hang out with the manipulative bad boy childhood friend, an archetypical character on several counts, and keep waiting for that moment when he gets complexity or some kind of explanation... and it just never comes. Even the most straightforward interrogation of why the protagonist is so into him only happens close to the end of the other route. I get the idea and enjoy the story a lot overall, but Roy's stuff does feel more compelling as an intellectual exercise in genre deconstruction than a dramatic narrative – it makes the point early and doesn't really elaborate on or complicate it in what follows.

(Fair warning: the game gets pretty labyrinthine with its choices, and I'm pretty sure I completed both main routes, but I can't say if I missed anything crucial!)

Stylish right from the title screen, which sets the tone perfectly. One area that could be pushed further is animation – the title cards feel a little jarring with no transition to or from them, for instance. You also kind of notice the fact that the sprite doesn't have a ton of expressions; the heaviness of the subject matter and the extreme emotions the story invokes aren't really visible, and it doesn't necessarily feel purposefully dissonant. But apart from that, the art & the UI are polished and pretty to look at.

Writing is nice as well! The characters feel precisely defined enough for the small scope, with bits and pieces of history but not so much backstory the story drowns in exposition. There's a lot of sharp imagery (the remnants of a drink in a glass being compared to blood is a particularly memorable one), and the story only ever feels appropriately claustrophobic, maintaining a forward momentum despite its place in the "nothing happens" genre.

Whether the ending gets too fanciful is debatable. I did not hate it, but it maybe felt like it lost the grounded tone of the preceding material without really reaching apocalyptic heights to match it in effectiveness?

Finally, as for the jam theme, I do see it there, but I also wonder if the game could have just gone with the Sun going supernova to wrestle with the idea a little more explicitly. If I was just reading this with no context, it would be pretty difficult to guess that "expanding" was the prompt. That being said, I enjoy what the game does with the concept overall, so don't listen to me.

The art is, first of all, lovely. The sprites are amazingly expressive, and the stylish animations make What We Were Wolf feel so kinetic to read. It's just nice to look at!

I get the lack of narration as a stylistic choice, but I feel like the dialog doesn't quite pack enough of a punch to make up for it – the game feels incredibly fast-paced, no scene having really time to land properly, and the tone stays muted throughout. With this kind of thing, I feel it would be okay to exaggerate and dig deeper into melodrama, kind of like a lot of stage plays do. This, I think, leans slightly too far towards literal & flat. (It might also be that the visuals aspect does feel a little sparse sometimes; the VN rarely lingers on images long enough to really evoke a mood.)

It's a compelling exercise in style, but I feel like the execution could be honed to make a stronger whole. The jam's theme feels very satisfyingly realized, though.

The prose is functional; I think the biggest nitpick I have is the repetition of some phrases and words. In terms of pacing, the game patient but not slow, taking its time to set up properly and managing to imply enough history to make the developments feel earned. I also like that the comedy inherent to the premise goes so understated – it's all pleasantly mundane in spite of involving a wacky magic gem with inexplicable powers.

That being said... given that there's a not-insignificant amount of words to read and that the plot leans towards thin, with the mechanics and the mysteries of the whole thing being so vague, I feel like Expanding Sizes and Feelings could have safely ended on a more conclusive note. I'm not even necessarily talking about resolving every plot thread; just something more satisfying as an emotional ending would be enough.

The jam theme is applied in a bluntly literal but effective way. The only thing I'm not quite sure about is the "and" in the title – I feel like the metaphorical link between physical and mental expansion would be the most interesting thing for a story like this to explore, and there's not necessarily a lot of that in here.

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My apologies to the New World Symphony team, but the first "centerright" was possibly the funniest thing in the game, if not the jam in general. Though I was aware of the find-replace mishap, it slipped out of my mind after I got into the story and caught me off guard so hard I laughed until there were tears in my eyes. Sincerely, thank you all for this beautiful moment that perfectly embodies the spirit of game jams.

As for the actual content of the thing: the roughness of the prose (in terms of typos, grammar issues, etc) aside, I thought the writing was very good at sprinkling in little details and finding novel ways to phrase things. The characters, their relationships, and the dialog felt impressively textured and specific, and there was some genuine tension and drama to the final moments! All in all, though a careful editorial touch could make the VN a lot smoother to read, it has a voice, and that's always the most important thing. (That's enough caps lock, though.)

My biggest gripe is probably how the story is structured. It kind of unevenly slides from the first big scene to the second, not really feeling like an effective, fast-paced montage but not giving things enough time to breathe, either.

What else... the music, although pretty subdued, is nice, and I like how bold the CGs were with their use of color. How the jam theme is used feels so literal and on-the-nose it kind of loops back into being good? Pretty solid entry overall, and definitely has its charms beyond the already-iconic centerright/centerleft issue.

The premise feels fresh, and the prose is sharp – the opening line is great, one of the better ones I've seen in the jam so far. Without spending a lot of words, Wraith also manages to establish a striking mood and paint fairly believably character portraits. The biggest writing adjustment I'd make is keeping the lines a little shorter on average; some are long enough that they don't fit in the UI, and in general, I think visual novels read a little smoother with tight sentences that really drive you forward to the next text block.

Presentation-wise, the game is pretty plain. How the sprite is positioned unfortunately looks somewhat goofy, and the unedited backgrounds – many of which don't necessarily look like they belong together – don't really help avoid the impression that you're looking at a bunch of stock photos. The credits sequence is a nice bit of visual flair, but I would have liked seeing more of that in the actual story, too.

(As for the jam's theme: ??? maybe i'm just bad at reading but i didn't really notice anything that felt relevant)

Mostly, I think, the game's briefness works against it – with so many surreal non-sequiturs and scenes of characters telling what they're like instead of it being shown, it didn't really feel like as if they had actually been on a date, you know? Even this sort of primarily comedic piece benefits from an impression that you've been on a journey with the characters and witnessed things happen. RIP Harmony ultimately feels more like a collection of admittedly funny contextless moments than a narrative. I didn't really get the framing device, either.

Can't really say I had a bad time playing the game – it's engaging enough on a line-to-line basis. Such a short length just demands more of a clarity of purpose to every element for the final product to not feel entirely weightless.

First of all: oh my god, this thing is so stylish? Definite jam winner material at least in terms of production values; the attention to detail is amazing, and the entire medium is explored and used. A very jarring background image showing real-life humans might be the only visual misstep, as painting furries over photos is relatively common. It really feels like an oversight.

Though unfinished, the story's patient pacing and its willingness to go for big swings already show a confidence in storytelling I always appreciate. The direction is also just so sharp; visuals are always used with purpose and to emphasize what the narrative is saying. Something feeling like a cheap gimmick or too melodramatic is a risk when you have this much stuff going on, but One More Light remains steadily tasteful and controlled. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the amount of pauses – less could be more in this case, especially when the numerous animations already stop the flow of text every so often.

The prose is pretty good, too, despite typos and such being common enough to betray the fact that the game was made under a strict time limit. Character voices come with a sense of grounded realism, and I think the narration avoids feeling too flowery despite playing with a lot of different images and metaphors. The writing is pleasant to read all around and clearly pulling its own weight.

What else is there to say – very good, and very impressive for a game jam project. I have to confess to having liked the moody opening slightly more than the VN going all plot mode, but don't count that as me not being excited for more.

thanks for your very useful feedback & glad you had enjoyed the VN!

the ending is kind of in a weird state because a lot of the research i did was ultimately left out for pacing reasons, particularly about the (fascinatingly mixed) reactions by the residents of the area since 2009, so you're right that the explanations feel sort of extraneous. it's an awkward middle ground that it might be possible to adjust to either direction. (in my mind, the character drama relates some of the cut stuff, but i'm fine with the specific authorial being impenetrable in the final product. i wanted to leave it somewhat open to interpretation to respect the different thoughts & feelings people have about the real-life events and the current status quo.)

also, re: your writing nitpicks, i'm not sure how apparent it is, but the translation process was pretty hasty and i honestly just forgot to check that the date formats were consistent in my hurry to get everything done. i'll take care of that after the jam and look into the kinds of clarity adjustments you mentioned as well.

the skipping stuff happens because that portion is implemented as a "cutscene" internally, changing the behavior so that you click the button once to skip the whole thing. this pausing skipping is a half-intentional side effect that probably feels more confusing than useful on the whole; i'll look into changing it. a slider for skipping speed should be easy enough to add, just haven't done that yet.

The Canis Convalescence is brief, but not to its detriment; it feels appropriately scoped & paced and has a clarity to its arc. Only the middle section comes off as kind of rushed – with such a long in-story timeskip, I feel like the relationships could have been developed further, although I like the endings. There's a "grounded and understated drama... in space!!!" vibe to it that I really enjoy, and the 4th wall breaks feel tasteful and carefully placed enough to not detract from it.

Not a lot of polish issues, either – the writing voice is fine and even makes the unconventional 2nd person feel quite natural to read, and the art is nice. Background images being different aspect ratios looks a little weird, though; I feel like all of them could just have been cropped. Also, the complete lack of audio (unless my computer was acting up) is kind of a shame.

Just a very solid game overall – as a jam entry, it occurred to me just now that I didn't actively think about the theme while reading and am not sure how, if at all, it was implemented?

(Also: might be prudent to remove the old version from the page entirely, looks like I accidentally downloaded that one)

The art is charming and has all kinds of nice extra touches that help the game establish its style & mood – there's a sense of steady directorial touch. Similarly, the comedy is hilarious, even if the whole doesn't feel perfectly balanced between humor and drama. Despite being overall pretty light in tone, low in conflict, and transparently horny, Burning Woof isn't really structured around its excellent gags or sex per se; the slightly less compelling character drama and slice-of-lifey exploration of the setting are what pushes it forward.

In that way, it kind of feels like a game not playing to its strengths. I was interested in the premise, but while the comparison between Burning Man and furcons is a fascinating idea, it was conveyed almost entirely via the author's note at the end – the way the work itself talks about the event feels plainly documentaristic, with not much deeper insight or satiric edge to it. The whole thing is basically taken at face value, and I guess I was just expecting some kind of novel angle, since the setting is such a narrative centerpiece even the interpersonal conflict can be seen as an extension of it?

Also, when it comes to the prose: grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary are often rough in a way that feels hard to ignore. There's a strong voice, but in my opinion, being more thoroughly edited would only help bring it out. Most of all, the linguistic quirks bleed into each character's dialog in a way I think doesn't feel entirely purposeful and makes them not as distinct as they could be. The VN is not unreadable or anything, and there are plenty of neat descriptions and fun lines, but the writing could be sharper.

Honestly, I'm not trying to be a hater here; Burning Woof was a breezy, engaging read with a clear vision. There's just a lot about the execution and what the story ultimately accomplishes that gives me a slight pause.

It's nice to see something this formally ambitious in the jam. The result feels slightly clunky and underplaytested, however; how vague the feedback is and how easy it is to misinterpret as the game misleading you means that it's too easy to lose track of what you're doing and what you already tried. How much new text there is across iterations, tricking you into thinking you discovered something new or are on the right track, doesn't help. Simple as the underlying mechanism may be, the game doesn't communicate it well enough to provide compelling puzzle gameplay – I spent more time wondering how exactly this thing works (do you need to exhaust all options & see all text? do you need to make whatever the correct choices are just once, across multiple iterations, or during a single one?) than "solving" it. (as in, looking at the script because it was really just not fun anymore and i was afraid i had somehow misunderstood the point)

The prose gets points for style, even if the dialog in particular feels overwrought and rhythmically weak at times. Between that and the image choices and the audio design, there's definitely a mood successfully established. I don't mind the character portraits remaining quite thin – it feels purposeful. Those two guys who show up sometimes not amounting to a lot or not leaving much of an impression maybe feels like a slight misstep; there was room to exaggerate them a little just to juice up the character interactions.

As for the ending, I feel like it lacks the proper buildup to land as an anticlimax. The tension dissipates away in the "gameplay" portion, at least if you're spending a lot of time stuck in it, but it doesn't feel like this is taken into account – the story essentially goes from 0% to 100% and the abruptly ends. There's nothing too surprising or incongruent about the general nature of the climax, but it just doesn't feel like it follows from what comes before tonally.

Apathesis deserves praise for taking a big swing and its strong sense of style, but the final product is often too frustrating for its own good.

hey, thanks for reading & leaving feedback!

i'm not particularly surprised to hear the game reads as difficult to follow. besides not really contextualizing everything related to the depicted historical events to a satisfactory degree, there are lot of one-off cultural jokes that could be explained explicitly – although, imo, "here's why this is funny" rarely produces good comedy. ultimately, i decided to prioritize keeping the piece as short and fast-paced as possible while not skipping over what i felt like were the most important bits related to what it had to say.

there's also an argument for the density of information as a literary effect – that something like this is ultimately more about the cumulative weight of the reader being assaulted with so many names, concepts, and voices. this aspect is ofc way more pronounced if you're reading the translation, but i think the original-language reading experience also flirts with it in places.

anyway, i wouldn't resist calling the game niche in its subject matter and dense in the execution to a reader-hostile degree. i really just thought of the jam as an opportunity to make something aggressively specific and "uncommercial", and am happy to see readers get whatever they can out of it!

First of all, it kind of bothers me that for what is a story with elements of action and intrigue, The Awakened makes telling and explaining its primary narrative mode. Character relationships are stated instead of shown, worldbuilding is mostly exposited, and there are tangents where societal issues of marginal relation to the story are discussed at length – the game simply feels undernarrativized. One aspect contributing to this is the lack of narration. It feels very surprising, considering the subject matter; the physicality, the sensations of transformation don't really come across.

Also, while I get the sense that the tonal whiplash is intentional, I'm not sure if the game leans quite hard enough into it to really sell the absurd vibes. It feels like the story is more so using its light mood as a means of sandpapering away aspects of the premise that would cause friction and conflict. This kind of approach can work if done well, but here I think it causes the game to lose a lot of its stakes.

Regarding the presentation: though there's a lot of art, I'm not really sure if the quality vs. quantity tradeoff is worth it here. You can see plenty of signs of game jam rush, like many of the sprites having parts of their ears cut off.

And, as for the jam's theme, the idea is obvious enough and even firmly grounded in what was established about the setting, but the (admittedly good) punchline nevertheless feels a little tacked on instead of being what the story is about.

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The art does its job, although all the sprites staring directly at the camera gets a little monotonous to look at. If there's an area of development, it might be the shading, lighting, and the color choices being so simple that they don't really evoke a mood; the main image isn't quite strong enough for its role as the visual centerpiece.

While I'm not familiar with the main work this VN is a part of and can't judge it in that context, the frame story doesn't really justify its inclusion and just eats away some essential simplicity here. There are enough narrative layers that it starts to hurt the story, and most of the visuals exist for the least interesting parts as well. It doesn't help that the interpersonal conflict feels like it's all stated instead of dramatized – you don't get enough about these characters to be able to engage emotionally or for a true sense of dialog to emerge.

For something this small in scope and intending to present itself as a standalone work, I'd shift the focus towards the monolog, which does have compelling bits of historical description. It's a classic setup for a short story burdened by all the extra fat.

It's what we like to see: a well-flowing story that uses a lot of classic tools (the three-act structure, the food/sex thematic intersection) to a great effect. There's a tangible sense of specificity to Donut Holes, too, both in how it considers the furgonomics of making donuts and how it portrays running a food truck in general.

The cartoony art style fits the vibe perfectly, and the character designs feel purposeful in their use of color & animal characteristics. Although the interpretation of the game jam's theme is not the most creative one, I like the effort & care put into its visual implementation – the thinnest variant feels almost unbalanced in how lanky it is, which really makes the later sprites pop. Simply a solid, thoroughly enjoyable package.

you're welcome for the feedback & good luck on your possible future projects!

Presentation is a mixed bag on the whole – I like the theming of the stylish UI, but there's room for some polish; as an example, the spacing of the text box could be adjusted to prevent longer lines from almost overlapping with the buttons. Still, I like what the game is going for visually.

The premise works. Even if the whole conceit doesn't completely manage to avoid feeling like an excuse to get the two characters to interact with each other, the bits of YouTube satire are always fun. And while the prose does a fair amount of needless telling, the smut is well-written and Mr. Beta (lmao) has a distinct voice. On a moment-to-moment basis, Werewolf's Prison is enjoyable to read.

On a more fundamental level, though, the characters don't really have a lot of interiority – the most significant piece of backstory Dewey gets is telegraphed to the degree that it starts to feel a little mechanical. Conflict being so heavily external also sort of stings in a work this focused on two guys talking with each other, and the abrupt ending kind of baffled me. Not a bad entry, but feels like it could be distilled into something stronger.