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A Game About A Woman - The Mirroring of Mary King Review
TLDR: A good review != a good buyer's guide. Most people want buyer's guides.
A lot of the folks on TWBG (myself included) think that only enough of mechanics to convey the theme and emotions of playing a game are what are required to be covered in a review. The rulebook is publicly available should you need the details; otherwise a hundred other amateur reviews will give you a play by play of the rules and components in due time. Unless those things significantly effect gameplay they don't add a lot of substance to a review. They are incredibly helpful for a buyer's guide but reading buyer's guides is not what most of the folks here want.
@elqord You're a regular here so forgive me if you already knew that but I know this review got linked to from reddit where a very similar sentiment was commonly expressed. I'm going to link to a review by Dan Thurot, who is also a bit of an experiential writer, but he did describe more of the feeling of gameplay which this review could've potentially benefited from: spacebiff.com/2022/08/29/the-mirroring-of-mary-king/
Sagrilarus wrote: You get a little artsy, you get a little out of the pocket, and everybody gets all pissy with you. Barnes needs to contact his union representative and file a grievance.
Ahh, the cross a critic has to bear, eh?
I'm curious if you could rebrand this game as "KAREN" and replace the Mary image with a normal late 40's soccer mom on one side and a raging entitled....karen on the other. Would it change anything?
Ok, ok, now I'M trolling
elqord: I am disappointed that you didn’t write about x.
Barnes: What would you like to know? I am happy to answer questions.
Just because we aren’t speaking to each other face to face, doesn’t mean we can’t be polite and kind.
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I have played and enjoyed Cosmic Frog and Shadows of Malice, but in both cases I like the idea of the game better than the game. I agree that he is a bold designer willing to do things that others aren’t doing, but by his own admission he hasn’t played a vast catalog of games so he might just be that rare designer who can operate in a semi-vacuum and benefit from that instead of suffering from it (Knizia is somewhat like that as well).
But… I feel like they could all have been better. For all the easy insults you throw at other designers that take other approaches to game design, it’s hard not to wish that the approach to generating creatures in shadows of malice was more successful at conjuring compelling enemies (it comes close, granted), it’s would have been great if the scoring mechanism of Cosmic Frog was not so disjointed from the rest of the gameplay, etc, etc.
I guess what I’m saying is that I feel like there is a strong chance that Mary King swings for the fences thematically and probably reaches it in a philosophical “wow, what an amazing design effort” kind of way and maybe that’s enough to justify its existence and to justify that anybody with an interest in expanding their game experiences should play it. But I’d be lying if I didn’t suspect that as a game I won’t ultimately wish it wasn’t more, wasn’t pushed just a little bit further so that it could be just as amazing a game as it is an idea.
I guess I’ll know when I play it.