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2014 In Review: SpyGame 
 PostTue Jan 06, 2015 6:55 am
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What happens when I save and then load. The little "This is the dude you observed" guy doesn't pop up in the lower left, and when I observe someone new, he pops up in the upper left after this error.
It's a friendly lab.
It's dark, but I can still read the text! Everyone take note of that!
There's nothing more demeaning to a man than someone else sitting in his chair and making him watch.
This is a review of Spy Game.

This is a story-driven game and so this review is going to be spoilery.

Another one of those wacky Random Collab team-ups, SpyGame is the brainchild of marionline and RMSephy. You're a shape-shifting alien? Human spy from a space station? I forget if the game tells you. Your mission is to infiltrate a small town and find missing children. Why are they missing? Do they really need to be found? The game doesn't specify, and in a game that should be 90% story, that's a big weakness.

Conceptually, the game is very tight. You have to observe someone to learn how to pretend to be them, and talking to different people in different diguises gives you different results. Going somewhere you shouldn't be can raise suspicion, and if people get too suspicious you have to go home for the day to let things cool down. The main puzzle in the game is using your diguises to figure out which apartment a certain character lives in so that you can break in and steal his lab keys. By assuming the right guises and talking to the right characters, you can get enough clues to solve it math class word problem style. The people you talk to in this section of the game each have their own personality and are pretty charming, which makes it sad that there's not more of them. A visual novel version of this game would rule.

Once you have the lab key, things get pretty easy. Assuming the director's form gives you total freedom, and she's standing right there in the lobby, super easy to observe. That makes the "Poke around and find the kids" part of the game trivial, and it would've been nice ahd there been more clues in this section as to just what the hell was going on with the kids. Maybe I missed something? Maybe the contest deadline at work, who knows! What I do know is that three kidnapped kids locked up in a secret room in the basement of a laboratory seems pretty evil, and leaving them there seems to be the good ending? I'd really like to know more about who I am, who they are, and why I should trust that they aren't going to be turned into Teenage Mutant Ninja Orphans. Again, maybe I missed something?

The scripts worked very smoothly, very nicely for the most part. If I observe someone, save the game, quit, and come back, I get a slice error the next time I observe someone. Where the game only takes like 15 minutes, it's not too big of a deal to finish it without saving, but it could've been a problem in a longer game. The art is crisp, very good indie style. Music is even nice, though it might've gotten annoying on a longer time frame. It's just that without a bigger puzzle to solve, or more story to overhear, there isn't a whole lot of substance. Indeed, if there were more substance I might be complaining about a lack of guidance. There's arrows over the doors you can enter and I'm not sure what the deal is with those. Maybe some kind of objective indicator that doesn't work, or maybe just being nice and letting you know you can go in. Some games used to do that.

I'd definitely like to see Sephy and mari return to this concept in the future, maybe in a different format, maybe not. The disguise thing is awesome, getting different characters views of each other is awesome but could be awesomer, and solving mysteries is always the awesomest. I remember complaining about not being able to get away with a certain thing and I could get away with it this time, so maybe the game was patched since the contest which is always cool. It's the core of what could be a really good game. I just feel like they needed more time to flesh out all the possibilities. It doesn't take very long, and if you've liked any of Sephy's other games it's definitely worth a look.
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