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Work through a very text-driven and more old-school adventure mystery
This console generation has been an interesting one, where more so than before we’ve seen development efforts diverge quite a lot in terms of the inspirations for their styling. One of the trends that has been interesting to see, has been a warm embrace of much older-school styles and games coming out that are clearly inspired by even 8-bit aesthetics and play styles, though often at least retaining some amount of modern sensibilities. Retro Mystery Club Volume 1 absolutely falls into this category, both generally minimizing graphical presentation and adopting a very retro 8-bit look for the visuals it does include.Throughout the game’s 9 episodes the focus will be on working to crack a variety of cases, and this will almost always require pretty methodical work to tease out clues and work out what happened. While normally in adventures you’d move your character around to find different areas to inspect or people to talk to, here everything like that is typically handled through a very text-driven interface. At first, especially since you aren’t really formally introduced to options you’ll have available to you, there’s definitely a learning curve, first to simply understand what each command will do, and then working out the progression of looking over the crime scene, gathering details, and talking to potential suspects.Where I think the experience falls down a bit is that the sequence of things you’ll need to do in order to progress always feels incredibly locked in and static. The issue is that most of the time it feels like you’re just stumbling through your options, trying to figure out what it is the game is expecting you to do next with the information you have. If you haven’t done A, you won’t be able to do B, and so on, and it isn’t unusual to have to go back to things you may have already hit once you’ve fulfilled the right requirement in order to move forward. I won’t argue that this is the way most adventure games work mechanically under the hood, but I think this approach with it all stripped down to a pretty minimalist menu exposes those underlying mechanics more than is typical.With all of that in mind the game, and whether it will be for you, boils down to how much you’re looking to enjoy its story-telling and mystery-solving aspects. The fact is, while there are some other mystery titles out there (some of which I’d argue are better overall), I’ll absolutely admit that the options are pretty limited. With that in mind, if you’ve got the itch to solve puzzles and work through mysterious cases, there will absolutely be some appeal here. If, however, that isn’t enough on its own I’d think the quibbles with what gameplay there is would make it less appealing.
Justin Nation, Score: