The Easily-Shocked Roller Coaster Denizen's Verdict: I'm just not able to deal with how easily Mr. Phillips shocks the living hell out of me.
The Guy In Crash That Liked Watching The Auto Accident's Verdict: Nice.
My Verdict: I fully believe that Andy Phillips could quite calmly inform you that he was about to slash your throat with a steak knife and leave you thinking that something wonderful and interesting was about to happen.
Game Type: Inform
Author Info: I'm guessing he's the next door neighbor quietly plotting your death.
Other Games By This Author: Heist, Time
Download Link: Enemies
I haven't had the pleasure of playing Mr. Phillips' other two text adventures (the aforementioned Heist and Time). It's just as good, as I enjoy somewhat being able to sleep at night. Having made it a way through Enemies I am convinced that continuing to do so would immediately blur my otherwise inherent and developed distinction between surmising when a situation is under control and when it isn't.
Enemies is basically a game about this one dude's social life. His name is Charles Johnson. Longtime fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers may notice that it is the same name of a certain wide receiver of theirs -- one that signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles for the 1999 season of the National Football League. Longtime fans of dick jokes may notice that the guy's last name is "Johnson." It's all relative.
Usually, normal or "mundane" settings do not terribly interest me in video games. I prefer some sort of fantastic leap of fantasy in my entertainment. It was with those reservations that I began playing Enemies. The game's first puzzle involves getting into the house of your girlfriend. Having been in a similar situation many times in my own life I felt I was on solid footing here. "It would be a simple matter to climb the fire escape, jimmy open the window with a credit card and jam the living daylights out of her," sez I. But what is this evil and most foul sorcery? No fire escape? Hell, it didn't seem as if Charles Johnson's woman was even answering her phone! Wtfman?
The game's first puzzle, then, did not get me into lopsided grins and deep chortling. Yes, you will notice the stone frog sitting about. The key to the place is probably hanging around there somehow, and it becomes slightly in the style of "Guess the Verb." From these somewhat irritating beginnings, however, comes a well-developed thriller. It seems quite possible, given the author's skill, that having you muck about with the key is almost his way of lowering your expectations for what is inside the blasted house and what goes on in the rest of the game.
Chuck, you see, has -- as the title implies -- some frigging enemies. The PC is a bit of a non-descript sod -- sort of like The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy's Arthur Dent without the, er, sense of humor. He becomes likeable insomuch as we are able to present ourselves upon him. Early in the game we meet the kind of psycho that has little to no problem with hacking about the bodies of women and leaving them scattered about for you to casually bob into. Mr. Phillips pulls off his description of horror with a palpable sense of disdain laced with gruesome curiosity. As if the statement, "Oh, by the way, someone just slashed open your belly. You're leaving a bit of entrail scattered about the floor" was meshed with, "the killer sucked the marrow from the bone of his victim, greedily slurping the tasty jelly and licking his filed-down slavering fangs." You might take this as sort of hyperbole for "the writing in Enemies is really solid." You'd most definitely be right. There isn't another author in the genre who is able to describe truly grisly and dangerous situations so clearly.
The target audience of Enemies is probably someone who does not necessarily need to see wood elves or B-movie space ships flying about to have a good time but definitely does need something to happen, dammit. The game could not be done as a straight novel: Phillips' mastery of involving the player in the heinous acts occurring in the game genuinely presents an emotion of "being there" that few pieces of IF really manage to nail. The game does so well the concept of "normal man meeting an unknown enemy" it almost renders other works in its sub-genre pointless. You will scramble to get all the points and get this guy's life back in order. Which -- in retrospect -- is probably more than I can say about my own personal life. Recommended.
Simple Rating: 9.1 / 10
Story: 8.3 / 10
Writing: 9.6 / 10
Playability: 9.0 / 10
Puzzle Quality: 7.1 / 10
Parser Responsiveness: 8.8 / 10
Roody Yogurt sprach the following on February 23rd, 2000:
I was going to write a review about this game but then I noticed,hey, you had already written one. Saves me some time. I have to say, I liked this game a _lot_, but it was very frustrating. I wasn't so frustrated by the puzzles that I couldn't solve (which were the majority), oh no. What was frustrating was that so much of it was absolutely brilliant, making me just wish that I had the power to re-write the bits that I didn't like.. It's like reading a really involving detective story and you're sure you know who the killer is and you're loving it, but when it all comes together, you say to yourself, hmmmm, I liked my ending better. I don't mean to say that I didn't likethe plot or ending overall, but I was expecting one more plot twist in the middle that wasn't there.
Another thing that's really interesting about the game is its a twisted mix of humor and seriousness, especially in the characterization of the PC. I wasn't quite sure if it entirely worked, but the dissonance does seem to bring a certain style to it that makes it all the more effective. One of the last things I want to mention is how much I like the endgame. I have no idea whether it's something that I could've solved on my own since I pretty much had the walkthrough handy after the first couple puzzles (alas, if I had my druthers, a couple of the puzzles would be cut out completely), but I think that the endgame just rocks because it's so goddamned cinematic. Endgames like this are exactly what it's all about. In my opinion, it's one of the best endgames since Infocom games, although I do have to admit that I haven't beaten a lotof the larger games on gmd.
But yeah, Enemies is a game that people should play.
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