I’m now done with my comp play-through, though some games in the not-recommended pile that will not be reviewed because they don’t list beta-testers. If you have reason to believe I’ve placed something in that category in error, or you know that there were testers even if they weren’t listed, feel free to let me know.
What follows is a non-spoilery list of recommendations and non-recommendations. I’ve been adding to it as I played, but now that I’ve finished the whole field, I’ve redistributed a bit, mostly to try to help people find things they’re most likely to enjoy; that means I’ve taken away the “Must Play” category and replaced it with subcategories.
But some general points: this year sees a lot of entrants and a lot of high-quality work. The proportion of flatly unplayable stuff is low, and many of the mid-range games nonetheless demonstrate interesting ideas and a lot of authorial talent. There are a variety of experiments with user interface — that probably deserves its own compare-and-contrast column; games that explore morality and complicity from several philosophical angles; and every flavor of noir you can imagine. If you like wearing a fedora, this is the comp year for you.
You will find a bunch of other reviews linked here.
(Received a score in the 7-10 range and has distinctive qualities that are likely to come up in future craft and theory discussions.)
(Received a score in the 7-10 range and is sufficiently polished, charming, and fun to recommend to players outside the community.)
(Received a score in the 6-8 range, worth a look.)
Cana According to Micah (assuming you’re up for something explicitly Christian)
Beet the Devil (with some minor polish issues)
Ted Paladin and the Case of the Abandoned House (short, but inventive puzzles)
Ambitious Concept but Flawed Design
(May still be worth playing, but the design doesn’t quite live up to the concept.)
Competent Execution but Limited Concept
(Design is somewhere on the spectrum between adequate and excellent, but the game is pretty short and the concept not very ambitious.)
Recommended Later If The Authors Do Some Cleanup
(Genuinely has something going for it, but there are significant polish issues. More testing attention and possibly some design tweaks would turn this into a vastly more playable experience.)
(No testers listed, so these games will not be reviewed.)
OperationExtraction (might be interesting as a demo piece, though)
The Ship of Whimsy
(Didn’t finish for personal reasons, or some other issue arose.)