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Wickedly fun, December 1, 2021
(This is a repost of a review I wrote on the IF newsgroups right after the 2004 Comp)
If ever a game were a guilty pleasure, Sting of the Wasp would be it; the overall plot is pure soap-opera, the NPC interactions are all about eking out the maximum amount of cattiness, and the puzzles derive their enjoyment value from pure spite -- all of which is to say that it hits its design goals exactly. Guiding the super-snob player character on a rampage through a high-end country club inhabited by people even more deserving of comeuppance than you do is entertaining on its own, and it's all the more so when combined with the viciously funny descriptions and withering repartee on offer.
Indeed, the game's great success is in setting the mood. Part of this is due to the author's strong writing skills — there are some laugh-out-loud moments, such as the PC's observation that a half-eaten bowl of salad bespeaks some rival's lack of willpower in sticking to her diet, and the dialogue is razor sharp — but much of the heavy lifting is done by the robust world simulation. NPCs will remark on the items you're carrying around, smells are implemented, and the scenery is both dense and well-described.
This very much reinforces the sense of immersion, but it's the puzzles which really nail the feel. Without exception, every puzzle you solve winds up advantaging you at somebody else's expense, whether it's through property damage, blackmail, exploiting a dangerous allergy, or just destroying some poor old lady's hair. The PC goes about her wicked business with flair and panache, and it's hard not to cackle at her exploits as long as one isn't encumbered by too many moral objections (which isn't hard in a farce this enjoyable).
There are a few flaws — I think there's a bug with the exit descriptions on the dining terrace, and the social comment is a bit too easy to be worth anything other than a few cheap laughs — but they do little to detract from the overall experience. The author knew exactly what he was going for, and the prose, puzzles, and implementation all work together flawlessly to convey his caustic vision.