In this lengthy choice game, you are playing as Jacob Morris, occult detective. This game is a nicely realized take on the hard-boiled noir-ish chandleresque detective stories with some interesting twists.
There is a significant amount of gameplay here. I’ve been through the game once, and it has taken me nearly the full two hours. The game is presented as a series of cases. Each of which is nicely encapsulated. The main goal is similar though. We are presented with a situation – a mysterious disappearance, thefts, strange noises, and then we investigate. It’s all very nicely implemented. The game also comes with some nice, genre appropriate music and sound effects.
It’s also nicely written. The text has the feel of the noir-detective. There are large pieces of text here, but they didn’t feel to be too onerous. It slips along lightly, this narrative. The Grimoire is a nice touch – it’s detailed and extensive. It also forms the basis for one of the main sets of ‘puzzles’ in the game.
Potential spoilers ahead.
It’s an interesting take on the occult. Monsters are a generally accepted part of the real world. Humans, when they die with a thing left unresolved, can be cursed and come back as a monster. Most of the puzzles are about understand the why’s and wherefore’s of these monsters you find. What is it that’s left undone? How can this be resolved?
As you explore the individual areas, you gradually uncover clues that allow you to determine which monster it is you will be facing. This is important, as the central conceit of your interaction with monsters is that correctly identifying them gives you the opportunity to resolve the situation. I found this to be done cleverly – I was able, with the cues in the text to identify all the creatures by relating the clues I’d got to the descriptions in the Grimoir. It’s a game that rewards close attention to the text
However, I felt, at some points, that the next element to the puzzle for each of the monsters was not as clear, as some of the options, as presented, were very similar. I found myself caught between two likely options, and then guessing. I didn’t feel that there were enough cues in the text to correctly answer the second part of the monster interactions.
One of the aspects of the game I thought was well done was the handling of Morris’ sexuality. Morris is gay, and while this aspect is acknowledged by the text, and we get to see Morris’ back story, it wasn’t a focal point of the narrative. The game didn’t feel it needed to single it out. I find this encouraging.
The ending is a nice surprise, and unexpected. It’s both satisfying and does a nice job of rounding out the protagonist and giving the game, as a whole, more impact. 9/10.