a matter of murder review
What’s more boring than a dinner party at an English manor? At least there’s a murderer on the loose””catching them will take wit, resourcefulness, and at least an hour away from this otherwise dull evening! In A Matter of Murder, indie-game developer Worthing & Moncrieff presents an amusing twist to the classic Christie-style mystery.
To many players, the game might feel like a digitalized version of Clue: you need to identify the killer and the weapon while scouring the manor for clues. Aside from a time/step limit and a need for a motive, A Matter of Murder doesn’t demand much to win. Like many good mysteries, the game’s deceptively simple rules tend to catch the player off-guard. Simply wandering the manor and clicking every person and item is a surefire way to waste your precious time; you need to choose your steps carefully and make deductions on your own.
There are 12 “set” levels in A Matter of Murder, each with a subtitle that hints at how to crack the case. For instance, “Less is More” encourages the player to use the process of elimination with the murder weapon, while “No Exit” involves a secret passageway utilized in the crime. The hints make these levels remarkably easier, so it’s best to consider them as a lengthy tutorial for the randomly generated mysteries; if you what could happen, you’ll be better prepared to face the crazy combinations thrown at you later.
As a text-based game, A Matter of Murder doesn’t offer the player much to look at, but that works largely in the game’s favor. The art style has the look and feel of quickly scribbled sketches, perhaps from the player detective’s notebook. Unfortunately, the lack of scenery also makes finding clues dull and uninteresting; once you know the layout, any alterations (like a locket or a color in the background) stick out like a sore thumb.
While the sound effects are a bit more immersive, it’s the music that throws Christie’s melodrama into the game: clunky hollow percussion, goofy wind instruments, and lots and lots of strings. The tune for discovering the murder weapon is just a few corny steps from “Dun, dun, DUUUUUUUN!”
In the end, it’s the randomly-generated mysteries that make the game worth buying. Finding ways to minimize steps to the answer can be a huge challenge, especially since even a single mistake during the accusation means game over. A Matter of Murder is a low-commitment puzzler; one that you can play in short bursts to challenge your logic and reasoning skills. Worthing & Moncrieff’s first title is an excellent way to sharpen your inner-Sherlock Holmes.
A Matter of Murder released to Steam last week, and will be featured in the first Google Play Indie Game Festival on September 24th.