Motion-control based games have always been a strange breed in my mind. On one hand, motion-control allows developers to make games with new control schemes that could potentially expand how people play games. This could also give a wider audience games that they want to play because it better fits their lifestyle. On the other hand however, motion-control is often done in a way that feels either unnatural or awkward. When this is the case, these games can have (seemingly) buggy controls that aggravate players. I feel like Perfect Woman falls right in the middle in a sort of gray area.
Perfect Woman uses the Kinect to have players match the pose the on-screen woman is doing. I’ve always enjoyed this kind of gameplay because it usually doesn’t ask too much of players while still being fun and funny to others watching. The only problem with this being the only way to play is that it massively limits how long the game can actually be. Because of this, I played through the game (until I died) a little more than a dozen times and I managed to experience every choice possible. Even though I did beat the game a few times I can see myself going back and playing again, albeit with a little less enthusiasm.
At this point, I feel I should mention that I got my fiancé to help me play through the game a few times as well to see what she thought about the game (since it is supposed to be meant for women). After spending a few hours with the game, we have come to the conclusion that a game like this without the gender barrier could have been just as fun. I understand the game is meant to parody the ‘perfect woman’ quizzes, but I think it would work with men as well as women. Either way, playing this game for the parody factor is only fun until you’ve experienced all the choices the game has to offer. To help explain what I mean by choices, I’ll break down exactly what to expect in this little indie title.
After starting up Perfect Woman, players are thrown right into the game by being asked to match the pose of a fetus in the womb that is meant to represent the player. This quickly sets the premise for the entire game: match the pose and you win. Once the fetus stage is over, players will be presented with a choice of four poses to perform. Each pose represents a different ‘perfect life at age 9’. This method of choice is used for each new age milestone. After my third or fourth playthrough, I realized that all the choices for each age group was exactly the same, besides the difficulty of each choice. This difficulty is decided by the previous choices a player has made. For example, if a player chooses to be a child worker at age 9, then getting an education or being successful becomes much harder later in life while being a rebel will be a bit easier. Also, the difficulty of a life choice dictates what kind of poses a player will have to hold to complete that stage of life.
When a player chooses an easy choice, the poses will mostly consist of arm/head movement while picking a hard choice will involve the whole body and will switch poses much faster. In fact, the ‘Extreme’ choices are so hard that they seem utterly impossible. Players will be bouncing from foot to foot with their bodies and appendages being asked to take awkward positions so quickly that I can’t imagine anyone being able to actually keep up. The use of difficulty to guide players towards certain paths is interesting at least although it makes it a little difficult to play the way you want to Other than the difficulty changing the poses in each level, there’s not much else to worry about besides trying to get the highest score possible. There is a secret if you do well enough throughout your playthrough, but I’m not sure exactly what triggers it (besides score). On the flip side, if you do too bad (or reach the end), you will die and have to start over from the beginning as a fetus.
This cycle of birth, death, and ultimately birth again was interesting at first, but quickly became annoying as I had experienced every good old age death and had to re-do the fetus section over and over again. Obviously, replaying the same section several times makes it easier as it is memorized, but this also becomes boring if the sections become too easy or predictable. I found this to be one issue I had while trying to figure out more about Perfect Woman. I could look past this issue if it weren’t coupled with several larger issues. One of the smaller issues would have to be the lack of menus (this would allow players to see what choices they’ve made and plan out what they could do differently). Another small issue would be not being able to skip the fetus section at the beginning or the credits at the end (not that they are very long).
My largest issue would definitely be how hard the game struggles when the player isn’t a stick figure. Granted both me and my fiancé are on the larger side, but the game shouldn’t be impossible to play because we aren’t the exact size of the in-game characters. This problem forced me to hold very uncomfortable positions if I wanted to get any points and that’s when I stopped having fun. Other than these issues, Perfect Woman was fun for an hour or two. I would like to think this game isn’t concerned with it’s looks and sounds, since it looks to be made out of paper cut-outs and has (seemingly) self-made songs. The game looks alright, but not great and the music in the game is fairly forgettable. The game handles the Kinect controls well enough to be fun for a while but probably won’t be on any Game of the Year lists. Even if the game as a whole is rather forgettable, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that one time I, a 23 year old male, played as a 60 year old female call girl. Ugh.
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