Detective

by Matt Barringer

Mystery
1993

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Number of Reviews: 5
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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.