As a long-time fan of the text-based adventure genre, I've played my fair share of these types of games. I can comfortably say that Whitefield Academy of Witchcraft is one of my new favorites. It's a fun, challenging game with a comfortable length and an incredibly enjoyable storyline.
In particular, I found the references to 50's sci-fi, classic fairy tales, and other tropes very clever. Rescuing Renee and Mary Jane were really fun moments thanks to these references.
Speaking of Mary Jane, I do have a few very minor nitpicks, though nothing that would lower my rating at all:
- I would have liked more development into the relationship between Mary Jane and Jenny. Obviously, between the comment about Jenny's "lewd conduct", Jenny's response to being kissed (yeah, I went there), and the way she and MJ talk about one another, it seems obvious to me that they are romantically involved, or at least want to be. I would have liked more on this subplot, maybe even a side mission where you get them to admit their feelings. This may have slowed the pacing of the game, though, and I don't begrudge Eaten By A Grue for leaving it out.
- The dialogue options with the characters themselves felt really limited. I liked hearing their opinions of the other students (when they had them, more on that later), but I would have liked to hear, say, Traudel's feelings on the school itself or to ask Tally about the letter from Ayn Rand. Gwen and Renee didn't hardly have opinions on ANYTHING, even other students. For Renee this wasn't so bad, since she's an introverted bookworm, but Gwen is built up the whole game as a badass rebel genius who clashes with almost everyone except Page, and then you meet her and she doesn't seem to have anything to say whatsoever.
- Speaking of Traudel, her character felt really underdeveloped. She had a very interesting file and backstory, and everyone seemed to have an opinion on her, but when you finally meet her, she climbs out of her coffin, pines about future submariners, and then wanders off. Talking to her later is largely fruitless, bringing me back to my last point.
- I felt like I got a "I can't see that" sort of message too often when trying to interact with the environment. Obviously this probably came down to time and irritating busywork for the creator, but it's something I notice a lot in these sorts of games.
Now for a few of my favorite things about the game!
- The setting was a stroke of brilliance. As stella1 said, setting the game in the late 50's and peppering it with historical references was really inspired. Beyond that, the physical setting was quite well-thought-out, from the suggested integration of magical and nonmagical worlds (as opposed to Harry Potter's segregated societies), the idea that Whitefield is a school on the verge of collapse (both literally and figuratively), and the feeling that you're just seeing a little slice of these character's lives, which are bigger and richer than we get to see (more on THAT later, too).
- The humor was spot-on. Plutiny was just... Amazing. I'm not going to go into a detailed list of my favorite jokes, but I had to point out that I loved the sense of humor.
- Through the files in the Headmistress's office, and their (non-conversational) dialogue, the characters were very well-developed and likable, and I really cared that I was rescuing them. As much as I doubt it'll happen, I'd love to see a sequel to this game, showing more of these characters' lives.
ANYhow, it's late, so I'll wrap up here. Overall, this was a terrific game. I highly recommend it, and am looking forward to playing more games from Eaten By A Grue.
This game was incredibly well-thought out and executed. The characterization was brilliant, as I really felt myself caring about the relationship between Violet and the main character. Violet is also a great example of how a game can be compact, yet complex. The entirety of the game takes place in one room, so there's no "Oh! I need to use the playing card I found in the kitchen" moments. Instead, everything you need to complete the game is right there in the room, and yet nothing is blatantly obvious.
The only criticism I can think of was already mentioned in the previous review: Violet's adorable Oz-themed nicknames for you sometimes fail to appear, leaving moments of "Yours, ,."
I loved this game. Great work, Mr. Freese!