Sherlock zones: my love for detective games

While at Rezzed in 2018, my other-half and I noticed just how many detective games were on display at the expo. It’s a trend which seems to have continued in the following two years and more titles with similar themes have been making it onto my wishlist.

As I’ve mentioned occasionally in the past, there’s just something about a private-investigator-protagonist which draws me in. I’ve grown fond of storylines featuring hardboiled detectives, hidden clues and devious crooks, and enjoy gameplay mechanics where it’s up to the player to piece together the evidence and solve the case. If you’re looking for something new to play and fancy a title which is going to put your sleuthing skills to the test, why grab your flashlight and check out the following releases.

Games I’ve played

Full-motion video (FMV) adventures might not be to everyone’s taste due to their technical limitations and hammed-up acting. But if you’re a fan like me, or you think you can make it through ten hours of exaggerated reactions, then I’d highly recommend checking out Contradiction: Spot the Liar! by Baggy Cat. Join Inspector Jenks, played by the awesome Rupert Booth, as he questions the inhabitants of Edenton village to find out whether Kate Vine’s death was caused by suicide or something more sinister.

If you fancy something more pixelated, why not try Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope instead? This was recommended to me by Luke from Hundstrasse and I picked it up for myself after watching Athena from AmbiGaming play on stream. How long it takes to finish depends completely on the strength of your deduction skills as it’s a pretty tough game, but in a very enjoyable way: you’ll need to make observations based on visual and audio clues to figure out why a once-busy merchant ship is now completely deserted.

The most recent detective title I’ve played is The Painscreek Killings by EQ Studios and it’s one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Much more than a walking simulator, it’s up to you to piece together the clues found around the quiet village of Painscreek to find out who killed the respected Vivian Roberts. The story becomes tangled as the residents reveal their dark secrets and histories through diaries, letters and newspaper articles; will you be able to select the correct murderer, motive and weapon at the end of the game?

Games I’ve wishlisted

Trust me: if you’re a fan of visual novels and noir narratives, you need to go and add Chicken Police by The Wild Gentleman to your wishlist straight away. The premise is somewhat crazy and the animal characters don’t seem to entirely fit the mature storyline at first, but the experience really grew on me throughout the demo and I now can’t wait to get my hands on this game. Join Sonny Featherland and Marty McChicken in Clawville for a case which is stranger and more dangerous than anything they’ve ever encountered before.

At the start of this posted I mentioned Rezzed 2018 and it was at this event that I first came across The Peterson Case. Developer Quarter Circle Games since renamed the project to Once Upon a Time in Roswell and I’m looking forward to the release this year. As you can probably tell from the new title, this one is a psychological-horror which chronicles the Peterson family’s disappearance in Roswell in 1947 – and players will encounter ‘beings not of this earth’ who may want more than just the protagonist’s life…

Murder Mystery Machine by Blazing Griffin is an interactive mystery game which caught my eye when it popped up in my Steam suggestions one day. When local politician Frank Daniels is murdered in what looks like a botched robbery, it entwines Detective Cassandra Clark and her partner Nate in a complex, interconnected series of crimes that’s anything but an open-and-shut case. I really like the isometric visual design and the content shown in the trailer reminds me a little of Knee Deep, but without the theatrical setting.

Games I’ve backed on Kickstarter

Taking a brief break from straight-up video games for a moment, let’s first talk about Missing in Jericho by Crimibox. Here’s an experience which aims to bridge the gap between reality and the digital as it will have players trawling through social media accounts, calling suspicious numbers, and using physical objects such as notebooks and printouts to make sure they don’t get lost in their enquiries. I recently receive my backers’ key and will hopefully start my investigation by the time this post is published – I’ll let you know how it goes.

I also received a copy of the backers build for Gamedec a few weeks ago and was impressed by Anshar Studios’ work so far. This detective game seems as though it’s going to be the one which will give you the most freedom when it comes to deciding how you’d like to approach a situation – but that also means your actions could have consequences which may close down certain lines of questioning. The project feels like it has plenty of potential and I’m curious to find out how the whole thing is going to come together.

Want a kickass female private investigator? Then look no further than Amira Darma in Chinatown Detective Agency by General Interactive Co. I really enjoyed the demo back in April, and the developer will be re-releasing it along with further content in a free preview at the end of this month. As well as investigating cases and doing some real-world research for these, players will also have to make sure the protagonist gets enough rest so she doesn’t crash and gains enough contacts to build her network. Definitely one worth checking out.

These are just a handful of the detective releases I’ve come across this year so far. Are there any further titles I should add to my wishlist? Krikket from Nerd Girl Thoughts recently recommended the demo for Lucifer Within Us by Kitfox Games so I’ll be giving this one a go – and I look forward to hearing any other suggestions.