Detective

by Matt Barringer

Mystery
1993

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- Edo, March 1, 2021

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
The flimsiest of detective adventures, September 11, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: mystery, parser-based, Inform

Detective is a fairly short and simple parser-based game made by Matt Barringer in 1993. You play as a detective who is ordered by the Chief to solve a crime. To do this, you progress through a series of rooms and (optionally) interact with various clues and items scattered around. There is a score system, and you are awarded points for picking things up and finding new areas. Eventually the plot thickens as (Spoiler - click to show)you find out that it could be a group of vigilantes orchestrating the murders. There's also a werewolf, or something.

Apparently the author was only 12 years old when he made this game. Unfortunately, it shows, as the game is rife with various types of implementation and writing errors. Besides the main character and a few items you can pick up, essentially nothing exists in the game world. There are no puzzles, and almost none of the items do anything beyond giving you some points. While the game is entirely linear, the room layout is rather confusing, with a lot of dead ends, one-way exits and even an instance or two of rooms seemingly overlapping. The room descriptions are also misleading, with mentions of items even after you have picked them up. All of this makes the whole adventure seem nonsensical at best.

The narrator voice is slightly smarmy in a very pre-teen sort of a way, regularly breaking the fourth wall and sometimes mildly teasing the player if they - by trial-and-error - accidentally enter rooms which are dead ends or contain a random game over. It can be slightly amusing at first, but it also leaves the whole storytelling aspect of the game very unconvincing.

So, is there something this game does right? Yes! The ending where (Spoiler - click to show)the killer is caught and the "Jurrasic Park" (sic) theme song starts playing in your head actually made me laugh out loud. It was suitably uplifting and somehow made the whole short trip feel worth it, if only barely.

So, if you have 10 to 15 minutes to kill and wish to embark on the flimsiest of detective adventures, this game isn't a bad pick.


- Zape, May 23, 2020

- dosgamer, April 15, 2015

- Simon Deimel (Germany), October 23, 2013

- Edward Lacey (Oxford, England), October 19, 2013

SPAG

It's short, arbitrary and pointless, but it *is* short! It may even be historical. (Can you count yourself a true IF afficionado if you don't know of this game?) It's also sincere in its way. If you look at other bad IF, you often find a cynicism, rampant insults to the player, and sleazy bad humor. It's clear that the author's intentions are good.
-- okblacke

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- Dudley Dipstick, May 20, 2012

- Silentobserver, November 17, 2011

- JohnW (Brno, Czech Republic), March 16, 2011

- Nusco (Bologna, Italy), December 4, 2009

- Genjar (Finland), August 31, 2008

- Ghalev (Northeastern PA, United States), March 25, 2008

- Juhana, December 16, 2007

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
Famous for being bad, but actually not that awful, December 16, 2007
by Kake (London, England)
Related reviews: Matt Barringer, **

Although this game is famous for being really, really bad, I did kind of like it. Knowing that it was written by a twelve-year-old kid did help, mind. I think what I liked most about it was the energy and sheer gung-ho of it although the plot makes pretty much no sense at all, you definitely get the impression that the author found it tremendously exciting, and it almost doesn't matter that nobody else would feel the same. In a game written by an adult, this would be kind of embarrassing. In a game written by a pre-teen, it's not at all inappropriate. I honestly don't think that I'd be embarrassed to have written this game as a kid.


- Miron (Berlin, Germany), December 11, 2007

Baf's Guide


Another obvious first attempt. Although it's billed as a mystery, the only real goal in this game is to travel from your starting location to the location where you win, without wandering into any of the locations that automatically kill you. The room descriptions contain plot events (which seldom makes sense the second time you visit a room), and connections between rooms are often mishandled. It's pretty clear that the author has only a vague understanding of what adventure games are, and would probably be more comfortable writing hyperfiction.

However, fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 should check out MST3K Presents Detective , an Inform port with adaptive heckling.

-- Carl Muckenhoupt

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