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Number of Reviews: 6
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short memoir about bees, November 28, 2021

First, a disclaimer. Mike Russo reviewed my game and we talked over the course of IF Comp about other stuff. However, Sting caught my attention on its own merits fairly early on as it was getting good ratings on IFDB, and I ultimately decided to play it post-comp.

Obviously the main motif in the game is the fact that the player character (ie. Mike Russo himself) has been stung by a bee several times; it is also about (Spoiler - click to show) his sister, who recently passed away.

Other reviewers have noted that Photopia is a point of comparison for what the author was trying to create: an episodic game around a central point.

Like Photopia, Sting is largely driven by conversation menus, and this is blended with light tasks to complete at times. I particularly enjoyed the sailing segment. The tasks were not difficult, but they were just enough to deepen the feeling of immersion since I had to do precisely what I was told

Sting draws everything together at the end nicely by reflecting on the past events after one final bee sting. This is much more linear than what Photopia attempted, but suitable for Sting itself.

While bees work to tie the stories together, bees aren't really part of the game mechanically. I thought of other domestic IF games like Shade and Ecdysis, which recontextualize your actions around something. Instead of drawing a plot to a close, they reveal that you were unknowingly (or semi-knowingly) interacting with the main conceit of the game all long.

This isn't really what Sting is trying to do, and Shade and Ecydisis are extreme examples of how authors can make actions important to a theme. My point is that in Sting, you never really get to closely interact with bees in a game that is about being stung by bees.

So there are a few times where I expected more from the game. For example, I tried to step on the bee at the end and got "That's not an action you've contemplated" in response. Non-essential actions can't always be predicted by authors, but it seemed like the response was off-key at times.

Sting's story is well-written, but I hesitate to say much about it because it is autobiographical. I enjoyed reading it and thought it handled the weight of its topics well, and I offer consolations to the author. At the same time, I don't actually know the author closely, and offering consolations in a review seems kind of weird... so there is not much more to say there.

Overall, Sting is worth playing. IF Comp lists it at one hour, and the chapter structure means you will get to see part of it even if you don't finish it.