Number of Reviews: 4
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Approachable and Highly Enjoyable, November 1, 2009
Inside Woman is the latest from Andy Phillips, who authored several IF titles (all puzzlefests I believe) around 10 years ago. I first came in contact with Andy's work with Heist, which also featured a female protagonist. The puzzles were fiendishly difficult and completely beyond me - I didn't get past the first few locations, and had to rely on a walkthrough. Andy seems to have taken pity on us with his latest work, because the puzzles, while often challenging, rarely reach the extent of feeling impossible to solve.
The plot and setting of Inside Woman are hardly original. The story takes place 150 years into the future, where global warming, biological warfare and globalisation have all left their mark. The protagonist is an Asian superspy, sent into the capital of another corporate state which is bent on becoming a total monopoly, in a quest to discover their plans. The game begins on a transport craft about to dock at this city, a giant pyramid, and Lo and Behold - puzzles ensue.
So, not a groundbreaking scenario. But playing the game is a real treat as the theme works so well. The writing is often just a bare description but comes across as fleshed out and vivid. And of course the player expectation for a game where the character is a hot female superspy is that it should be fun, and I felt that the author succeeded in this as well. A memorable highlight is when the you are required to win a virtual reality arcade game where you are... a hot female superspy (on a bike!). You will find yourself trying every over-the-top action movie cliché to score the maximum points. It was firmly tongue in cheek, and very entertaining.
As I mentioned earlier the puzzles are not quite as hard as some of the previous games Andy has released, but there are still plenty of times where you will be really challenged. There are a lot more hints around for you to find, many of which are implemented through the player's sidekick, which has made the game more approachable. I managed to get over two thirds through the game with just a couple of hints from other people, before getting totally stuck on one particular puzzle. Fortunately there is a hints file available now, which is how I got past this stage. There are several instances where syntax or the correct verb are important, but at least they are rare.
For anyone new to puzzle-based IF, the key things to remember are - examine and search everything (sometimes more than once, as they might change with no notification), read the descriptions and conversation carefully for subtle clues and think outside the box. With this in mind, if you are up for a challenge you will really enjoy this game.