Murder Mystery Adventure is an indie game developed by EnsenaSoft. The concept is like a hidden object game, combined with the board game Clue, mixed with a first person walking puzzle game. In concept, this is a really cool mix of features, but there are a few flaws within the game that makes the execution fall flat.
Before I get started with the review, I want to disclose that I was provided with a free Steam key to review this game, so let’s get to it.
Just like a story taken straight out of an Agatha Christie mystery novel, Murder Mystery Adventure follows the same rules and basic murder scenario, but with a bit of a twist with its character designs and their names. For example, they have names like The Quantum Lynx, River Huntress, Commander Kidd and Professor Steel, just to name a few.
Murder Mystery Adventure takes place inside of a fancy high end mansion. The game plays like a point-and-click first person adventure mixed with a hidden object game where you have to locate the weapons and clues that are literally hidden in plain sight, but done in such a way where the items blend in with the environment.
The cool part is that when you move from one room to the next, it doesn’t click or teleport you to the next room, instead the character actually walks to the location so that there is a smooth transition from one area to the next. You can also rotate the camera 360 degrees around to look at the entire room, and you can also zoom in and interact with certain items.
The game has about eight rooms, around eight NPCs, and nine weapons that randomizes and moves around every time you start a new game. This gives a great deal of variety to replay the game over and over again without ever knowing “Who dunnit”. The goal of the game is to talk to the NPCs, look for blood stains, and find all the weapons to narrow down who the culprit is.
The dialogue between the characters is really simple and there is no voice acting, so when you talk to someone it normally consists of “I was with X character during the time of the murder”, and based on that feedback you can find the missing link for the character’s alibi that doesn’t fit with the other characters. So if you can play Clue, then you can certainly play Murder Mystery Adventure.
There are also mini-games for you to play, such as a card game where you have to gather cards to gain a higher total number than your opponent, and for a reward you will receive a few items to use for later. At first I didn’t understand the rules to the game because there really wasn’t much of an explanation for how to play, but after losing the first game I quickly got the hang of how to play.
There is also a puzzle where you have to untangle electrical wires, and another puzzle that almost drove me mad the first time I played it where you have to crack the code to a safe. I’m glad I played the game multiple times though because I probably would have raged on and on about how much I hated that puzzle, but after playing it again for a second and third time I now understand how the puzzle works and it is actually pretty easy to solve once you get the hang of it. Although the puzzles aren’t perfect, they do give a challenge and a bit of variety to the game, but most importantly, I did find them to be fun to play.
The mansion design is a bit weird because the kitchen and dining room is on the second floor, so it takes a little bit of time to get used to. The first time I walked through the mansion it felt like a maze, but the second playthrough I understood the layout and traveling from one room to the next was a lot easier. A map would have been handy, but then I realized the house isn’t really that big so navigating it and learning your way around doesn’t take that long.
The character designs are a bit weird and caught me off guard, especially since the game seems to take place around the late 18th century. For example, the character Quantum Lynx looks like he has a cellphone strapped to the side of his arm, which gives him a very modern look when you see his choice of clothing and accessories. Based on his name he seems to be some type of time traveling thief, which I wouldn’t have minded because I think the characters add a unique twist to the game, but there is no story within the game to explain the characters and their appearance. When you combine all of these elements together, the characters, the house, and the time period doesn’t really match and blend together very well, which makes the murder scenario feel a bit incoherent.
The music is pretty good and it sounds interesting, I really like the song that plays in the piano room because it has a pretty cool tune as it continues to play, but again,there seems to be a disconnect between the music and the genre, so it feels like the songs don’t always blend together very well, which then makes the game feel like there isn’t really a consistent theme between the songs.
The items also are difficult to spot and it is hard to determine what you can interact with from what you can’t. Part of me likes this because the game doesn’t hold your hand and you have to use your own natural observation skills to find the hidden objects, but it can also be frustrating when you have no clue what you are supposed to be looking for without a reference of what you need to find or any proper clues.
Looking for the different keys to unlock the other rooms was also very difficult since I didn’t know which objects I could and couldn’t interact with. This creates a lot of guess clicking as you get stuck while trying to figure out what to do next.
On top of this, to find the murder room you have to look for blood stains that are splashed around the room, but in the actual game the blood stains are very faint and hard to see, so spotting the blood stains is quite frustrating, especially when you have to travel between eight different rooms to look to see if any of them have the near transparent blood stains.
The graphics are nice and the environment has a lot of detail, but the game plays like it was made using the Unity engine and crammed with a variety of different assets. It isn’t that the assets don’t blend together that creates the problem, but the optimization is very poor, and you only get two options for the graphics which consists of “Make It Run Faster” or “Make It Beautiful”. Both settings makes the game run slow, and for a few players; including myself, the game will simply crash if you attempt to put the graphics settings on “Beautiful”.
Even on the ‘fast” settings, the game crashed on me several times just while exploring the mansion, and other times the game would get stuck in lag as the FPS randomly dropped to nothing. It’s almost like you are seeing every item, every room and every person in the mansion at the same time. As a result, the game will randomly start to run really slow and will possibly crash.
Murder Mystery Adventure has a lot of potential and it is fun to play, especially since I am a fan of murder mysteries and the Clue board game, but as I said before, the execution for the game is very poor and it is lacking polish.
You can purchase the game for about $7.99, but I don’t feel like it is worth its price tag. As a result, I can’t recommend the game in its current state because I think most gamers would just get frustrated while playing the game.
If the developers make some adjustments to the optimization and fix a few more of the glitches and flaws, then maybe it will be worth a buy during a really good Steam sale, but until then, I think it is best to steer clear from this one.