Chances are you might not have heard much of anything about Detective Grimoire. I hadn’t either until I stumbled across this video game on Steam. It was created by SFB Games and published by Armor Games. If you haven’t heard of SFB Games? They’re the same people that made Haunt the House! And Detective Grimoire is actually a sequel to a 2007 flashgame of the same name.
About: Detective Grimoire is called upon by Officer James to investigate a murder that took place at a small tourist attraction called Boggy’s Bog located within a swamp. Richard Remington, the owner of the attraction, is thought to have been killed by Boggy himself, the creature that the attraction is based around. You control Detective Grimoire and explore around the swamp, collecting clues from scenes, making profiles and interrogating suspects. Each of the individuals at the attraction are all suspects and its your job to figure out which one of them might have landed the fatal blow. Detective Grimoire is a point-and-click mystery game with many small puzzles along the way. It has received Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on Steam and awards for “Best of the Rest” (AdventureGamers Silver Aggies), “Best Casual Game” ( TIGA Game Industry Awards) and “Best Game Story” (Casual Connect Indie Prize).
Warning! Potential spoilers ahead. If you’re fine with that then you might want to jot down some notes in your notebook…
The Plot/Characters: Essentially, the game is a murder mystery. Detective Grimoire is a sassy detective with a knack for crime solving. Enough so that the Officer that brings him to the Boggy’s Bog attraction sits on the boat while you go off and explore, solving the entire mystery as to who killed Richard Remington yourself. Of course, Detective Grimoire is suspicious about “Boggy” having killed Remington. After all, he’s a swamp creature that hasn’t been seen in over 60 years. All evidence at first seems to point to the creature having committed the murder, however. Each of the suspects you encounter along the way could have had motive, means or opportunity. There is a rich Director who was just recently allowed to shoot a film on the property but was stalled by Remington in the past. An old lady lives on the swamp grounds as well, who seems annoyed about Remington and suspicious of his motives. There’s even a kid that is constantly in the museum on property, who seems to have an unhealthy fascination with the creature. The game is heavily story driven and each of the characters are heavily unique as well.
What I truly liked about the characters, however, was their interaction with the Detective. A lot of jokes, sass and emotions are present in the conversations. Detective Grimoire’s own sassy attitude and his seemingly laid-back way of dealing with things also make the story more interesting. For instance, you can actually note that a suspects mustache is bothering you.
Gameplay: Pointing and clicking your way through the swamp isn’t the only thing you’ll be doing in this game. Fortunately, you have to use your wits. Presenting different clues and profiles to individuals will get you different responses, and often times you will be stumped if you haven’t been paying attention to key pieces of dialogue or try to skip it entirely. Just to see if you’re paying attention or piecing things out, Detective Grimoire will say that something is bothering him and you’ll be expected to piece together the evidence so far to come to a conclusion. In other words, the gameplay is heavily plot driven.
Not only that, but the game has a few mini puzzles that crop up now and again. Most of them are fairly basic, especially if you’ve played a game like Professor Layton. But the hardest part is when you’re expected to provide the right response at the right time to a suspect which is the only way to advance the game. And, of course, at the end you will be expected to present all of the clues up until that point in order to solve the crime.
Fortunately, unlike some other point-and-click games (I’m looking at you, Goosebumps, you jerk…) this one will clue you in on what it expects, having the Detective drop hints from the map or let you know when he’s finished with a suspect. This makes the gameplay also go fast and allow the player not to get stumped on an area for too long, which is nice. Fortunately, the game does not spell it out for you too much, however, allowing you to explore freely for the most part.
Graphics: The graphics on this game are fairly simple 2-D style. All of the environments are very carefully detailed, however, and the characters are animated, so they will move and talk as the dialogue changes. For the most part, I loved the style of the game, which is very cartoon-esque. The style also reminded me very heavily of Professor Layton and a lot of the characters do have very striking features. Only a few things bothered me about the graphics, such as the beginning when it appears to be Detective Grimoire and the officer in two different boats, and then shows that they were in the same one, or some strange angles but overly the style is cute and interesting.
The Score: With an award nominated original orchestra soundtrack, it’s no wonder that the music in this felt so unique to the game for me. Most of it repeats quite often, however, so it began to drown itself out in the background and I forgot that it was there. However, it set the mood nicely for the game, overall as it has that hint of “mystery”. Still, since it was so repetitive I didn’t really pay closer attention to it.
Overall: Overall, I really thoroughly enjoyed this game. The characters were interesting enough, mainly the Detective, to keep me thoroughly engaged. The mystery also unfolds slowly, allowing you to really puzzle it out and to be stumped about the killer up until one of the last chapters. Once you get toward the end, however, everything clicks into place and begins to make sense, allowing you to feel victorious as you present your case. There wasn’t much to dislike about the game either, other than the strange little girl that has no real explanation. The ending also leaves you with a sense of wonder and accomplishment and makes me hope for a sequel sometime in the future. I would definitely recommend this game, especially if you enjoy crime shows or murder mysteries. If that isn’t your cup of tea, however, than this game isn’t for you.
I mean, why would you play a murder mystery without loving that kind of thing… Right?
Have you played Detective Grimoire? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan on playing it?