SPY INTRIGUE

by furkle

2015

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Number of Reviews: 4
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Come for the spy hijinks, stay for the death scenes, November 21, 2015

Spy Intrigue is set in a future, somewhat dystopian world. You, the player character, have enrolled in spy school and arrive to discover that you are in fact the only spy left after an unfortunate tragedy involving spy mumps. Which means that you get to start going on adventures, assigned to you by the devilishly attractive Secretarybot, despite having no training, no qualifications, and no guidance whatsoever on what you're meant to be doing.

If this premise sounds like the fun setup to some wacky hijinks, it totally is. And the narrative is funny enough to sustain the absurdity without batting an eye. But even that is not what makes SPY INTRIGUE so awesome.

The custom interface includes an interesting mechanic by providing you with a map that will show you where you are in relation to other nearby nodes -- and how close you are to dying. This turns out to be a good thing, because this game is designed as a sort of deadly gauntlet. You can expect to die a lot.

But you want to die. You want to die as often as you can.

Because when you die, the screen changes, and you're taken into flashback sequences from your life and childhood. And these begin to paint a deeper picture of who you are, and the kind of trauma that you have experienced, and the way that's affected you. You realize rather quickly that you have -- or have had -- a drug habit, and suicidal impulses.

And that's where you start to realize the genius of the game's design. Because reading these nuggets of backstory is so rewarding, and you are so compelled to learn more about this character's background, that you begin to seek out death. You begin to purposely do things that will lead to a dead end, and in doing so, you as the player end up sharing in some small way the protagonist's suicidal ideation.

Of course, you don't have to play it this way. You can navigate around the deaths and play it through as a straight, wacky romp of adventure and still have a good time with it. But I think trying to play Spy Intrigue to "win" is missing the point and, certainly, missing some of the best content.