A young couple named Chris and Diane are found dead in their home in the small town of Pineview. Diane has a bullet wound in her stomach and Chris has bullet wound on the side of his head. They are outsiders who moved in a few months previously. They has been having problems and they didn’t interact with any of their neighbours so the locals and the police are convinced this is a murder - suicide. Enter Detective Michael Stone from the city. To the annoyance of everyone else, he insists on investigating fully.
This game has three different stories which all tied in together. First is the investigation itself as to what exactly happened. Helped by Amy Blunt , you interview locals, investigate the crime scene and speak to the sheriff and to the local doctor who carries out the autopsies on the victims. We get to know the town and its inhabitants little by little every time we speak to them. The story is told over the course of a few days and the sheriff has let it be known to you that if you don’t wrap up the case before the fair in a few days he will declare it a murder - suicide and move on.
At night, when Detective Stone is alone in bed he has visions of a woman. who asks him to join her and to stop fighting. As each night passes, he becomes more and more tempted to join her but he fights on to continue with the case. Each night we learn a little more about Detective’s Stone’s past and just who the woman is and what happened to her.
Finally, and what sets this game apart from other similar games, is that you also play as one of the victims, Chris. We get to see when he first meets Diane, when they first fall in love and the most important moment of their relationship until their deaths. Some of these moments are extremely tender and sweet that it makes it all the more heartbraking that we know what will eventually happen to them. We come to care for these characters and we are desperately hoping that they can be saved even as we know how it ends for them.
The writing as a whole is some of the best writing I have seen in an adventure game. All the characters are real and none of them are two dimensional. The game deals with some pretty tough subjects such as suicide, depression and mental illness but it is done in a very sensitive manner that could have easily been mishandled. It is a testament to the writing that the three plots converge as well as they do and that you think about the game after finishing it.
In this game you move the character left or right by pressing either A or D. You will see a symbol beside a hotspot to show if you can interact with it. Other people have mentioned that they found the controls cumbersome but apart from being a little finicky I didn’t find any issues at all with them. That being said, the developer has made changes to the controls based on feedback so the controls should be even easier in the latest version of the game. You also carry a notepad in the game where the detective writes a description of the crime scene and all the characters he meets with his thoughts which comes in very useful!
There aren’t many puzzles in this game as the story takes precedence. For me this no bad thing as I would prefer a good story to be the focus rather than some arbitrary puzzles we have all seen in many other adventure games. What few puzzles there are include having to take a photograph from a dog and having to start a boat which has no gas. I was not stuck at any time and did not need a walkthrough so the game shouldn’t pose too much difficulty to experienced adventure game players.
There is no voice acting in this game which didn’t bother me as the writing was top notch although it would have been nice to have actors portray the wonderfully written characters and dialogue. The music is beautifully done by Micamic, who also worked on The Cat Lady. It is used sparingly and appropriately in the scenes when it needs to be used. We also just hear sound effects such as footsteps and birds chirping in exterior scenes which add to the atmosphere.
For the most part this game plays as a 2d side scroller. However in dramatic moments the camera shifts perspective which adds to the tension and is very professionally done. The movements of the characters look strange at first but I quickly got used to them and this didn’t affect my enjoyment at all. While the overall graphics may be a bit basic given the budget of the game, the scenery looks beautiful with changing weather patterns.
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Time Played: Under 1 hour
Difficulty: Very Easy
The game took me over 5 hours to finish but those 5 hours were spent moving the story along rather wandering aimlessly trying to figure out how to solve the next puzzle. While some people may want a bigger challenge and may not like the controls, none of these bothered me. I found the story captivating and enthralling. If this game is not mentioned as one of the best adventure games of the year come December then we will have had an exceptionally good year!