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Painscreek Killings - Investigatory murder mystery?

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This looks like a unique and realistic take on the murder mystery genre. The game asks you to treat it like a real investigation and to take notes. There is no “handholding” like in regular adventure games.

As soon as you arrive in the town you can even choose to leave right away, leaving the mystery unsolved.


     
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I’m playing this right now. It’s a very solid game so far.

At first it seemed sparse with a large empty town to explore, but if you follow the trail of clues there is a lot to find and discover. I’m actually finding myself theorizing about the suspects and murders, which is a good sign for this type of game.

     
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Looks interesting - I do enjoy a game that makes me take notes!

     
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I would be all over this but unfortunately I’m sure my PC won’t be able to handle it.

     

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Oscar - 11 October 2017 11:37 PM

I’m playing this right now. It’s a very solid game so far.

At first it seemed sparse with a large empty town to explore, but if you follow the trail of clues there is a lot to find and discover. I’m actually finding myself theorizing about the suspects and murders, which is a good sign for this type of game.

Well, you’ve intrigued me! I think I’ll give this one a try.

     
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Finished it.

Although it has quite a few faults, I can’t remember the last time a murder mystery game was done this well. It definitely lives up to its promise to put the responsibility on the player to figure it all out alone. The mystery itself is intriguing and the puzzles challenging but not too much.

Very impressive effort.

     
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I’ve always loved playing detective and when I started playing my expectations were high. At first it looked interesting and I did like it, but it turned out to be more of the same: Find keys to open doors, file cabinets, drawers and read countless diaries, documents, letters. Very few puzzles, if you can call them that. Hours and hours of running around a deserted town from one generic room with the same boxes, lamps, vases, books to another. The English writing is bad. Sorry, it just is (e.g. “his” when the person in question is a woman.) The music loops (30-45 seconds) are sheer torture and since there’s no way to turn off just the music in this 12-16 hour game I had to play without sound.

The graphics are fine. But why do I have the feeling I’m wearing glasses that desperately need cleaning. What’s the point of this? 

     

There is only one thing about truth that is certain. Truth… is dead.   Orwell: Ignorance is Strength

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I think it was made by a Japanese team, which explains the poor English.

Agreed on the music - I turned it off.

Both those were minor issues for me, though.

     
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Karlok - 16 October 2017 07:17 PM

I’ve always loved playing detective and when I started playing my expectations were high. At first it looked interesting and I did like it, but it turned out to be more of the same: Find keys to open doors, file cabinets, drawers and read countless diaries, documents, letters. Very few puzzles, if you can call them that. Hours and hours of running around a deserted town from one generic room with the same boxes, lamps, vases, books to another. The English writing is bad. Sorry, it just is (e.g. “his” when the person in question is a woman.) The music loops (30-45 seconds) are sheer torture and since there’s no way to turn off just the music in this 12-16 hour game I had to play without sound.

The graphics are fine. But why do I have the feeling I’m wearing glasses that desperately need cleaning. What’s the point of this?

I did not like the “smudging” effect either.

One of the things i liked was that the rooms & houses were NOT generic… the teenage boy’s room has baseball posters and the girl’s room was pink with music boxes. The house which had a fire was all burned out inside.

I played lots of games like Everybody’s gone to the Rapture with identical houses and I can say that this game is a big step up. Not quite as detailed as Edith Finch, but a step up anyhow.

     
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BitingWit - 16 October 2017 11:37 PM

One of the things i liked was that the rooms & houses were NOT generic… the teenage boy’s room has baseball posters and the girl’s room was pink with music boxes. The house which had a fire was all burned out inside.

But all those rooms have the same look, feel, atmosphere. Same desks, bookcases, lamps, vases, toolboxes, etcetera. With a poster in this one and a music box in another one. Everything lacks character. Not only the rooms, there’s nothing distinctive or individual about the diaries either. And the story is a collection of cliches that belong to a different era, like maybe the 50s or earlier, but certainly not the 70s and 90s.

I played lots of games like Everybody’s gone to the Rapture with identical houses and I can say that this game is a big step up. Not quite as detailed as Edith Finch, but a step up anyhow.

I disagree that Painscreek Killings is a step up. Yes, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture was awful too in that regard. Every single person had the same radio.  Embarassed  Edith Finch was really much, much better, but still no variety in books and crockery. Gone Home too was pretty awful. Good game, but why have the player pick up dozens of identical mugs and cleaning stuff.

     

There is only one thing about truth that is certain. Truth… is dead.   Orwell: Ignorance is Strength

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Karlok - 17 October 2017 11:04 AM
BitingWit - 16 October 2017 11:37 PM

One of the things i liked was that the rooms & houses were NOT generic… the teenage boy’s room has baseball posters and the girl’s room was pink with music boxes. The house which had a fire was all burned out inside.

But all those rooms have the same look, feel, atmosphere. Same desks, bookcases, lamps, vases, toolboxes, etcetera. With a poster in this one and a music box in another one. Everything lacks character. Not only the rooms, there’s nothing distinctive or individual about the diaries either. And the story is a collection of cliches that belong to a different era, like maybe the 50s or earlier, but certainly not the 70s and 90s.

How long did you play for? The lamps were different in all the houses, and there was even a puzzle late in the game that relied on identifying the type of lamp in a house. Some houses had wooden bookshelves, some had metal or a different kind of wood - there was another puzzle based on this later on. And the diaries all had different handwriting according to the writer’s personality.

I agree there could be more variety and character, but I think that is harder to do than it seems. Credit where credit’s due. I also agree that the town looked like something out of the 1930s, although I think that was by design.

     
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Oscar - 17 October 2017 09:20 PM

The lamps were different in all the houses, and there was even a puzzle late in the game that relied on identifying the type of lamp in a house.

Thank you for illustrating my point. That “puzzle” consisted of running around town trying to locate the right house and the right lamp. There are at least 6, yes SIX, houses with that particular lamp. Dorothy’s, Bernard’s, Wanda’s, the Mansion, the Inn, the Church.

     

There is only one thing about truth that is certain. Truth… is dead.   Orwell: Ignorance is Strength

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I’ll take your word for the others, but I know the Inn and the Mansion all have different lamps because I checked those two before finding the right kind of lamp at the Church.

But I’ve uninstalled already so I can’t be bothered checking again.

     
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Oscar - 18 October 2017 04:34 AM

I’ll take your word for the others, but I know the Inn and the Mansion all have different lamps because I checked those two before finding the right kind of lamp at the Church.

You say you checked the Inn…

That particular type of lamp is all over the place. It’s in the first glimpse of the inn when you enter. Four of those lamps in each bedroom. Three in the reception area. Two at the stairs. Lots in the inn itself. A grand total of 35 identical lamps. Yes, I counted them for you.

Here’s the first glimpse when you enter. Copy and remove the brackets I added so people wouldn’t have to see it by accident.
[[https://i.imgur.com/88Zb60g.png]]

You say you checked the Mansion…

That lamp can be found in the hallway to the attic.
[[https://i.imgur.com/Zx9e9ic.png]]

But I’ve uninstalled already so I can’t be bothered checking again.

At your service.

     

There is only one thing about truth that is certain. Truth… is dead.   Orwell: Ignorance is Strength

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Did the ending make anyone else scream their lungs out?

     

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I’ve just completed Painscreek and I have to say that I tend to agree with Karlok about the game but, probably, not quite as critically. BitingWit and Oscar do make reasonably fair points though and I suspect it’s a case of what might have been.

When I read David Hoover’s game review here I was really interested in Painscreek Killings as it had completely passed me by. The premise was a good one and, according to David’s review, seemed to work – for him at least. It’s certainly the best of its type that I’ve played and it certainly makes you think – and you REALLY need to take notes. My whiteboard has never had so much work on a game before!

But.

Karlok’s criticism about similar environments is valid in my view. I think it’s fair to say that the developers did a reasonable job in attempting to make houses/rooms different but, in an environment where you are alone, the similarities do stand out. It must be hard to create a whole town with not only individual houses and streets but individual rooms within those houses. The workload would be immense, particularly for a small team. Some things, though, could have been done much better. All the identical packages in the houses for example. And what an honest area Painscreek is. Not a single one of those had been opened and it’s not as if Painscreek was a difficult place to get into. All those diaries! How come everybody left all their diaries behind with all that incriminating evidence in them? The newspapers were fine but the diaries? And the keys?
For a game that put you into the role of an investigative reporter and expected you to treat the game in a real world manner I felt that the actual world was far from reality. The amount of secret rooms in the town defied belief. Not a very trusting set of residents.

Having said all that I still think that the developers did an ok job and I’d like to think that they, or other developers that are thinking of doing this type of game, would have learned a lot from Painscreek. Some things they did well. The logic flowed without being linear. You could find out things that made no sense until some time later but you could, just as easily, find out the same facts in a different order that made sense as you found them. Apart from getting keys to get into houses and rooms you could break codes by applying some thought although the codes would be easier once you found out certain facts. I broke two codes that way (the safe in the mansion and the darts puzzle) which allowed the player to be rewarded for being an investigator.
I’m going to have to go back to the game as I triggered the end sequence before I had finished investigating and only had 22 of the 33 achievements. Even more annoyingly I supplied the wrong name for the murderer at the end. In the Hints forum here I said I thought I knew who killed Vivian but I was obviously wrong when I was in the area that triggered the end sequence and it was evident at that point who the murderer was. Unfortunately, following the end sequence which was a bit hectic (no Nelza, I didn’t scream), I put down the original name I was thinking and not the proper one Embarassed

     

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