This game is an homage to the IF writer Andy Phillips, who wrote several puzzle-heavy games around the turn of the century. The only game of his I’ve played myself is “Heroine’s Mantle,” but “Frenemies” is a well-deserved revivial of a type of game that isn’t as popular these days.
Gameplay: The game is a parser-based one in a single locked room, from which the protagonist attempts to escape with the help of some set-piece and inventory puzzles. Once the player figures out how he’s locked in the room, escaping requires a detailed examination of the environment and an involved series of tasks. The task of escaping the room is foremost; there aren’t a lot of smaller puzzles to solve in parallel, items to collect, and so on. It’s a genre of game that isn’t very common anymore, and it’s a refreshing change. 6/10.
Mechanics: The puzzles are difficult but largely fair, although they could be more strongly clued in the text. The environment is complicated, and some extra guidance (or even a more discursive walkthrough rather than just an explicit stepthrough) would have been helpful. Of course, the style of game this entry is recreating is tougher and less ornately narrated than most modern games, so I can’t be too harsh on that aspect of it. It’s an enjoyable series of puzzles. 6/10.
Presentation: Although I don’t know enough about his Phillips’ games to say so definitely, this game feels like an affectionate pastiche of them. There are numerous references to Phillips’ games that are explicitly noted, and there are undoubtedly many that I didn’t pick up on myself. Even though the game is a puzzlefest, the main character has a definite personality, presented through his friends and prized possessions. (Again, this may be a specific reference to another of Phillips’ characters, or even the author himself; I don’t know enough of the background to identify it as such.) There were a couple of minor grammar mistakes in the beginning, and I managed to make one container in the game open and locked; largely, though, the gameplay was smooth. 6/10.
You might be interested in this game if: You played any of Andy Phillips’ games.