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About the Story
"It will forever remain one of life's mysteries: why should a simple man like yourself get on the wrong side of anybody? You are, after all, just a typical accountant. A little sideline romance with the secretary (what's she called -- Joanna) is a pleasant diversion from the tedium of your nine hour working day. Even your name, Charles Johnson, is unremarkable. Unfortunately, in today's world, security is nothing more than an illusion. Predators, sometimes even our most trusted friends, make plans for our downfall. Unseen snipers close in, ready to pull the trigger when we least expect it. Perhaps it's just human nature -- everybody has.... ENEMIES"
The best thing about Enemies is (surprisingly) the atmosphere. I mention the surprise because what had always impressed me about Phillips' work in the past were his puzzles. His storytelling conversely had been a little weak. In Enemies, however, it's his prose that takes the foreground. The writing is generally very creepy and Phillips does a great job of making the player feel that the threat is real and around every corner. [...]
The truth is that there were at least two or three puzzles in this game that could easily be nominated for XYZZY awards, and the sense of satisfaction I got from completing most of them was very high. A recommendation might be to play this game with a walkthrough close by, and when you hit one of the killer puzzles (believe me you'll know when it happens), you can save both your gaming experience and yourself the grief of trying to plow through them.
-- Francesco Bova
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Most of Andy Phillips games have the same bones with different overlays. In all of the games, you play a protagonist with some sort of special features (in this one, you're an intelligent accountant), a femme fatale, and cinematic scenes with really hard combinatorial puzzles.
The special features of this one are the setting (most of it in an abandoned boarding school), and the gruesomeness of it. It was a bit over the top, even compared to his other games.
If you haven't tried any of the other games, I really liked Heist and Time.
This is probably the most macabre IF I've ever played, and I say this because a number of gruesomely slaughtered and posed bodies are involved--also there are plenty of graphic 'insta-deaths'(doing the wrong thing in a number of situations can lead to PC death) although I thought most of them could be avoided with a reasonable modicum of common sense. You can count on these things being present in an Andy Phillips game. Which oddly doesn't bother me, because I am a detective brat and I am a fan of psycho-thrillers. And I think this game is a very good one.
This game is full of puzzles, which I think fits in really well with the theme of being taunted--controlled?--by a sadistic psychopath, who has a predilection for torture before slaughter. Some of the puzzles are quite difficult, and require special knowledge. One I know I would have never gotten through without being familiar with Roman mythology and the solar system. Another, which I thought was the most difficult to understand was one that involved electricity--I had to do a little research for that one. However, another puzzle, which involved song lyrics and algebra, was brilliant. I thought all of the puzzles were well thought-out, with reasonable solutions, (Spoiler - click to show)with perhaps one exception--at the very end, you are in a supply room, with a remote-controlled crane and a stack of crates at the southern(back) wall. I don't think the author gave any indication in the room description that the player could get behind the crates using the usual compass direction commands--I had to find this out by accident--plus I had to look at the walkthrough to find out that I could 'throw (something) over (something else)'--though I might have found this out by typing just any command out of sheer frustration. Both of these things were essential to the final puzzle. And, having worked with large machinery for many years, I know how forklifts move and how noisy they are--A human being can easily outrun a forklift, especially given how screwed-up the one in the game is described as being, and it would be very difficult to NOT hear it moving. Therefore I found it hard to believe that such a skilled assassin, with excellent reflexes, could not just jump out of the way. So, needless to say, I didn't realize that the crane was supposed to be the solution. But all this makes sense when you realize that the author was only 21 when he wrote this game, and probably just out of college--which really actually impressed me when I found out from the 'About the Author' section in the help info. Lots of puzzles requiring high intelligence, but perhaps a few dodgy parts--which was the reason I gave it 4 stars, as opposed to 5.
I have to say that I like games that include a 'hunt' for objects that have something in common--in 'Jigsaw', it was the puzzle pieces(clever), in 'Curses', it was the ebony rods, etc. Like the 'score', that kind of gives me a feeling of 'progress'. 'Enemies' has that element indeed.
The theme of the game really kind of 'spoke' to me. There were really two--about bullying, but kind of a minor one involving relationships. The game spoke to a question in my mind--how does one address school-age bullying as an adult? Being essentially a pacifist, in deed if not in word, I don't believe in using force to intimidate, belittle, or cause another individual to do something. Yet in school, I was often the victim of such behavior. And I look back on those situations often with resentment, and wonder if I could have done something to 'set things straight' with the bullies, or somehow wanting to 'get even'. I sometimes wonder if there is yet another solution. This game spoke to that in me. Also, there is a relationship in the story that was never resolved and never would be--that also spoke to me. I think both were addressed satisfactorily, to the extent that they can be.
This is really one of those games where I wonder what the author is 'up to' now, especially since this game was published in 1999--20 years ago. His latest effort, as far as I can tell, came out in 2009. I think this game was well-written--an improvement on 'Heist', as far as writing, grammar, etc, are concerned. Also, I think I agree with other reviewers that it communicated a sense of suspense and 'spooky-ness' very well.
To sum up, if you are a die-hard puzzle-lover who also likes 'story' with your puzzles, 'Enemies' hits the spot.
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