Inside Woman

by Andy Phillips

Thriller
2009

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Number of Reviews: 4
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A Game of its Own Kind, May 6, 2015
by Tristano (Italy)

"Inside Woman" has really caught my attention for its originality. I've found it different from many IF works, in subtle ways. It's a rather long game, the map is not huge and the author devised it in a way that moving around is quite simple.

First, I want to point out that the game can be really tough to get through, and I don't think I'd have managed to get on with it without resorting to hints. Unfortunately, the hints file is not mentioned here, so I'll add a link to it:

http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/solutions/WomanHints.txt

I think the author should have put a hint system into the game because some puzzles can get quite frustrating, forcing the player to quit playing. Even after peeping the solution in the hint file I've realized that some puzzles I simply wouldn't have solved them.

Yet, it was worth playing it (even with frequent hints lookup). The story opening is quite unusual: movement in space is strictly linked to puzzles and plot, meaning that to move forward you have to solve some puzzles, and since they relate to plot the experience is that of moving rapidly into the story one-step-at-the-time. This is something that I liked quite a lot because it forced me to focus a lot on every description from the inset, and it gave me a good story immersion experience.

Then, at at certain point the game takes on a more classical approach: you can move and explore and are faced with multiple puzzles that need to be solved in order to carry on with the story. Overall, the story is quite linear in that most of the puzzles must be solved in a specific order--although, I have to admit that guessing their order is not always easy, and as the story goes on it's easy to lose track of the objectives.

A strong advice: have a notebook of some sort to jot down notes from the beginning because backward references are a recurrent issue in this game. Also, writing down objective is a good way of keeping focused on the various missions and achievements.

Mechanics aside, I liked the futuristic setting and I appreciated the author's prose -- not only it's very polished, but it's also well balanced. There aren't many superfluous descriptions, and the author has managed to be concise but rich, and overall the story emerges quite powerfully. Some puzzles are really hard, but there is enough encouragement to go on because each solution adds some beats to the story and prevents the pace from dying out.

Also, this is a game in which words are carefully weighed and crafted, and they carry more meaning than one might think at first glance--indeed, you soon learn that every sentence contains important clues and is hinting toward the solution of the puzzle it refers to. I can't recall another work in which the text was so masterfully woven so as to embed in each sentence clues to playing, while at the same time establishing setting, plot, and pace all at once and in such a concise manner. Andy Philips is a good writer, beside being a good coder and game designer.

So, extreme attention has to payed to the game's text--but this has a downside also: you'll soon realize that previous description are crucial to solving some puzzles. So it's strongly advisable to use the transcript function in order to be able to read and sift-through past texts. This annoyed me a bit because in the midst of the game I couldn't recover some text from the buffer since I had saved and restored the game across sessions. The author should have put a warning regarding the need of transcripts or, even better, he could have implemented some sort of note-book or other way of recording important texts and events. Or, as mentioned above, just take notes on paper.

Some mechanics here and there could have been polished a bit more, but it's definitely an IF work of high quality--I don't recall stumbling in many typos.

I hope the author might one day take this work on once more and add to it a hint and note-taking system and refine some puzzles that, being too hard to solve, might prevent many from completing it. Also, there are some places where the player has to repeat a sequence of actions over and over again ... those parts should be revised with an implicit-actions system (else it's just cumbersome).


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Emily Boegheim, May 2, 2015 - Reply
I've added the hints file to the game's page now.

For future reference: anyone can edit game pages on IFDB, so if you notice something like that missing, feel free to add it yourself! Scroll to the bottom of the game's page and click "Edit this page". Something like a hints file or walkthrough would go in the Downloads section. You can check out other game pages to see how their downloads are described and linked, if you're unsure how to enter something.
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