Two rooms, a mansion, and the world tree.

Final Selection, by Sam Gordon, 2006.

In real life I would not have made it through the selection process to the Final Selection. My resume would have been crumpled up and stuffed into a secret compartment only to be discovered later by another more qualified candidate searching for clues. Myself, I prefer Granta to Games — says the guy with a zillion back issues of Nintendo Power.

Outside of the annual comp, where I’ll allow two hours in order to appear even-handed, I’m unreceptive to this kind of naked puzzle party.

(Gordon may have traveled into the future to read these comments, because his Bellwater had the decency to put on some narrative clothing. He also released it as part of the comp and took third. Play that instead if you haven’t.)

Marika the Offering, by James Webb, 2007.

Although the writing — strangely impersonal for a first-person story — isn’t as memorable as in Webb’s other games, this one is much less frustrating, even fun, and a neat twist on the locked room puzzle.

Shelter from the Storm, by Eric Eve, 2009.

A grammatical exercise. If the story requires you to abandon decorum and start snooping around, it’s the narrator who has to provide the motivation. Different tenses and perspectives will do so in different ways; here, all viewpoints are equally distant.

Dead Like Ants, by C.E.J. Pacian, 2009.

Maybe if I wait long enough, Pacian will release all the other games I wanted to write.