Detective Osiris

by Adam Burt

Historical Fantasy
2023

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An ancient Egyptian murder-mystery that blurs the lines between heaven and earth, October 3, 2023
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 2 hours

In this choice-based game written in Ink, you play as Osiris, the recently deceased king (pharaoh?) of Egypt. A post-mortem ritual by your wife and demi-god, Isis, ensures your ascension to godhood. But as a newly christened god, you don't have any assigned duties yet. And all the gods are pretty sure you were murdered, so why not figure out whodunit first, and then you can get on with the whole being-a-god thing.

This is one of those choice-based games that plays a lot like a "parser-on-rails" as I call them. You can move back and forth between different locations, but there aren't really objects to pick up or examine, rather you have a limited number of options in each location (though the number of options may expand with continued exploration), and then it is time to move on. With this game being a murder mystery, your primary actions are to interview a number of different characters who may have either had a part in your death, or have some clue as to who the culprit is. You can visit every location and ask every NPC every question available to you, but then you will need to back track as new knowledge opens up new dialogue with characters you've already talked to.

All my criticisms will need to hide behind a spoiler tag below. But before we get to them, the praises. This game was well-written, with engaging dialogue in most of the scenes and a fairly robust dialogue tree for each NPC. I have a lot of respect for the coding that was required to open up new lines of dialogue with old NPCs only after certain facts were discovered. Also, I appreciated the limited graphics that went along with the text. Many of the names were unfamiliar to me, so having the graphical representation of the character pop up on the side of the screen when you were interacting with them was a nice touch and helpful to keep everyone straight. The credits mentioned music, but while I had my computerís volume up, I never heard it. Perhaps I didnít turn it up high enough.

So, I think a problem I had with the game is (Spoiler - click to show)that it was mislabeled as to the time it takes to play. The IFComp 2023 games listing has it at ďOne hourĒ, but I found that I was much closer to two hours and after ďcompletingĒ the game found that I had probably missed out on a good chunk of the content. Thatís because, having gone back and forth over the geography several times I started to see an option pop up in the dialogue tree to accuse someone of my murder and bring him before the gods for judgment. Given that I was way over the estimated time frame for playing the game I assumed that I had discovered enough clues to accuse this character (who was the obvious candidate from the beginning), and so I did, but I was wrong. I didnít quite have it in me to play through again to see what I missed, so I just went with it. But I was a bit disappointed that I hadnít figured it out on my own, even though it had seemed at that point that I had exhausted all my dialogue tree options (pretty sure that was just laziness on my part). However, I did appreciate that the game didnít just give me a fail-state, but rather revealed the mystery to me and allowed me a satisfactory ending.

Overall, a pretty solid effort, enjoyable for the time it took, but probably not a game I will be coming back to. Still, the author has talent, and I hope to see more from him in the future.

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