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LONG BLOG

Review: Detective Grimoire - the antidote to Broken Age

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Name: Detective Grimoire

Available on:  PC, IOS, Android, Amazon app store

Price:

Steam: £4.99 / $6.99

IOS: £2.99 / $3.99

Google play: £2.39 / $3.99

Amazon app store: £2.40 / £3.99

 

Reviewed on: PC

Review bit:

See you thought I was done with SFB games but no it's time to rake them over the hot coals of critique again. Yes damn you SFB games you totally ruined Broken Age Act 2 for me...... Yes I know that sounds completely insane but to an extent it really did. Detective Grimoire is a crime puzzle game very much in the vein of older point and click puzzle games (Except in difficulty) and it puts Broken Age to shame for the most part. I wish I were joking but animation wise it seems as good as Double fine and the backgrounds seem almost as vibrant and detailed and this isn't a game that received millions in kickstarter fuding, it received $29,000 infact . While the game only took me around 3 hours to complete (I did look up the location of one items after getting fed up looking and the hint system deciding not to work). It felt on par if not better than Broken Age act 1.

 

 
Would you look at that art work

The voice acting is competent if a little over the top from some characters (though it comes off more comical or deliberate than anything else). The two stand out's are the voice the little girl and the voice actress behind the character Sally Spears. Both of whom seemingly nail their performances perfectly. Which I'm going to suggest in a small part may be thanks to the script which for Sally Spears kind of makes me want her as a recurring character turning up in future games randomly with a new job each time or something. Sally Spears interactions with Detective Grimoire just added such a comical twist really with the mix of genuine interest and snarky comments.

The Puzzles in Detective Grimoire for the most part I have to say are kind of incredibly easy and solving the murder mystery isn't a huge challenge even without using the hints system. However the reason to play is more uncovering the mystery and backstories behind the characters along with their dark secrets and motives behind the murder. It's a testament to the story that while you might have an idea who the killer is quite quickly you'll still have doubts and suspicions of other characters for quite a while into the game. 

The game also has a very nice mechanics where you have to help Detective Grimoire put his thoughts together to make important realisations. This seems like a really nice mechanic but I think this led to much of the easy feeling to the game as it felt very directed by interrupting standard gameplay to confirm the important revelation. If possible I'd love to see this idea returning in future games but built upon so it becomes almost like part of the hint system. Say if you're feeling majorly stuck you can click on a button to "collect your thoughts" and trigger sort of extra puzzles which give you clearer direction of how to progress. So for example when you find out an important piece of information the extra dialogue options with relevant characters etc unlock but it doesn't explicitly tell you to go and talk to that person unless you then choose to collect your thoughts. This way you could progress without needing guiding so much but the option would also be there if people felt the need to use it.

The Audio options are quite impressive (though numbers on the slider wouldn't go a miss) but it's clear the developer did think about audio quite a lot to help give an ambience to the locations in the game.

Ok so I have two negatives one very nit picky and one which I think the developers might expect if they read my previous review.

The biggest problem would be the lack of resolution or graphics options. This is a PC game and while it should run on most things being a 2D resolution options beyond simply windowed mode  are something PC games should have by default.

The rather nit picky problem was the location of the lock pick. For a game that was so clear on the direction for many things, I felt with the lock pick there wasn't much indication of where it was. For example there was no real reason to click on its location. No-one says about when they dropped something into the swamp something happened to the swamp water in that area until they fished the item out. There was no real indication of anything being hidden there like say a glint in the light or something.

That's really my only problems with the game personally. I also loved the ending which I won't spoil but it closes the present case but shows the starts of an overarching storyline that I'm guessing will run through a number of future cases. It's a very nice format for future games with each being a case on its own but tied together by a larger story.

Verdict:

less than 100th the budget of Broken Age

Just over 1/4 the selling price of Broken Age

Close to the same gameplay time as Broken Age Act 1

As good if not slightly better than Broken Age Act 1 (only held back by fairly minor issues) and as a package overall it's far better than Broken Age.With beautiful backgrounds and well done animation. Good to excellent voice acting. A good story which remains consistently good with plenty of twists throughout the game with plenty of interesting characters to talk to and uncover their dark secrets. It puts Broken Age and many other game in the point and click genre quite to shame. While it may be short clocking in at around 3 hours or so it's so high quality it more that justifies its present asking price on PC for such high quality. It does have its issues such as the lack of graphics options (but in unlike Haunt the House these do not cause problems at any point). It could also be said the puzzles are a little on the simple side (though innovative and enjoyable). I'd say part of the lack of difficulty comes with how well most of the game directs the player maybe a little too much such that some of the, very well done, mechanics around directing the player could be put as optional things to help the player, rather than mandatory aspects of the main game.

For anyone who has recently finished Broken Age and was left disappointed or wanting something to play. Detective Grimoire is the game to play. I give it my recommendation and suggest you go and buy it now.

More of this series please SFB games

 

Score 

5 out of 6

Additional:

After originally publishing this review on my site the developer did actualy respond to the issues I'd pointed out in this review.

The hint for lock pick location is meant to be the same as for one of the other clues. The problem is I kind of found the other clue by a random click and the hint vanished after so I never made the connection as such.

As for the resolution options the developer said they'd tried to do a sort of resolution option but the engine / program the game runs in (I believe it was Acrobat Air) doesn't have programming options which allow for different resolution options to be used. Essentially the game is made in a very unusual way in a program not normally used. The developer said the attempt at a work around was mostly unsuccessful and made the game actively worse. So now you have all the information.

- Named MMO of the year by The Grumble


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About Dwavenhobbleone of us since 8:33 AM on 06.19.2012

A qualified Environmental Chemist who happens to live in a fairly dense city with no real environment or chemistry industry.

I review indie games on another blog and you'll see them pop up here if I think the review is a good or interesting one (along with a shameless bit of self promotion)

I also operate another blog reviewing films and I mean t pick that back up when I can.

I've been gaming since the SNES days. I've been in the pro scene before for tribes 2 but hate the present pro scenes and have no interest in going back into it.

I tend to get into quite a few Betas and love ones without NDA as it means I can write about them. I have even beta tested an xbox 360 game in my time (and no not a normal public Beta one )

In gaming I'm normally the guy looking at the shelf below the AAA titles first to see if there are any great hidden gems.

My gaming drug of choice: Timesplitters in any flavour (Why won't you make Timesplitters 4 Crytek, why ????? I need my fix of insanity )
Xbox LIVE:hobblejp
Steam ID:dwavenhobble


 

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