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Sting Of The Wasp

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Postby davidw » Tue Nov 16, 2004 7:21 am

Game: Sting Of The Wasp

Author: Jason Devlin


Not that many games in this year's IFComp impressed me much. They were either poorly written, ridden with bugs and guess the verb or just plain bad. What a refreshing change then to play Sting Of The Wasp and find one that that actually impressed me.

I wasn't sure what to make of it to begin with. It starts with a sex scene - not the kind that you tend to see in adult IF but more the stylish kind that you'd probably prefer to see in adult IF - and as the introduction winds to a close you find yourself photographed. The aim of the game, apparently, is to get the film from whoever has it and keep your dignity intact.

My first thought upon starting this game was that I was playing a prostitute and the sex scene at the start was me and a 'customer', but once I'd been playing the game for a while longer it soon became apparent that that wasn't the case at all. I'm not sure who the other person is (your boyfriend or mystery lover I'm guessing) but I suspect it's some liaison that you'd just as soon keep quiet and not have everyone gossiping about. Unfortunately this isn't highlighted very clearly at all and it wasn't until I'd tried to leave the premises - the game takes place at a club - and was informed that I couldn't until I'd recovered the film that I even began to realise what the aim of the game was. The introduction, while well written, doesn't really tell you enough about what's going on.

But that's just a minor disappointment in an otherwise excellent game. There are quite a few NPCs around the club who can be questioned about a wide variety of subjects, although this is done via the "ask [name] about [subject]" format rather than the easier "talk to [name]" and so half the responses you get will likely be the default response you wind up with whenever you ask someone a question the writer didn't think to cover. It's probably an oversight but "talk to [name]" just returns an error message. Then again, the NPCs are all interesting characters with their own personalities and this was one of the few games where I didn't mind having to struggle with the unhelpful conversation system. But, yes, it is still a struggle.

All the NPCs are upper class and all seem to look down on the poor player as some kind of lower class intruder into their high society world. A couple of them are frightfully self-important and after speaking to them I was half-minded to try and strangle them (an option not, alas, covered). I suppose it says something for the believability of characters in a game when you can come to loathe them so much in such a short time.

It's not a perfect game. There are quite a few anomalies with exits and the like. Going south from location A to location B and then south again often leads you back to A. There's also a strange bug (or maybe it's simply a strangeness on the part of the writer) in that you're not able to enter the spa until after you've been to the garden. Why this should be so I can't imagine as nothing happens in the garden that might open up the spa to you.

A very interesting game is discovered up as you wander about the club, hunting for clues and asking the NPCs about one another. They all seem to have a genuine dislike of each other and it's fascinating hearing them bitch about things. I didn't make a massive amount of progress before the two hour deadline rolled around but what parts of the game I saw I enjoyed.

All in all: excellent game. A crying shame so few others in the Comp were as good as this.

7 out of 10
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