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Dungeon Detective

by Wonaglot and Caitlin Mulvihill

Episode 1 of Dungeon Detective
Fantasy
2018

(based on 17 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

You're a gnoll. Whether that's a blessing or a curse is up to you. Unlike other gnolls, you're trying to eke out a simple existence by plying your trade - that of the world's first Dungeon Detective. Amass clues and present them to your client. Choose your partner or work alone. Eat some eggs. Or don't.

Show them you're not all teeth and claws, kid.


Game Details


Awards

Nominee, Best Story - 2018 XYZZY Awards

12th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(2)
4 star:
(8)
3 star:
(6)
2 star:
(1)
1 star:
(0)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Uncover clues and solve a mystery, but in a fantasy setting, December 19, 2018

I was predisposed to like Dungeon Detective because of its cover art. The signal it initially sent me was something like "comedy version of the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons cartoon starring a hyena." (I know it's a gnoll, but in the cover art the main character looks like a sentient hyena. Which works for me.)

And I did enjoy Dungeon Detective. You, Sniff Chewpaw, gnoll detective, have been hired by a dragon to determine the identity of the adventurers who looted your dungeon. So the game ends up being a choice-based mystery.

I played through twice. The gameplay involves uncovering clues that help identify the adventurers. For the most part, you're examining the same parts of the dungeon no matter what choices you make. Your choices do, however, seem to affect which clues you find and how much information you can glean from them.

The writing is evocative; it captured the feeling for me of walking through a dungeon, making decisions about where to go next and what to do. Also, the characterization is strong. There aren't very many characters, but they all have distinct personalities. I particularly enjoyed the interaction between the PC and the dragon; it reminded me some of (Spoiler - click to show)Grunk and the gnome in Lost Pig.

In addition, the major choices in the game mostly revolve around your interactions with these characters. Depending on certain options with them, the way you find various clues and the level of detail you gain from those clues appear to vary quite a bit.

There are multiple endings as well. Even if you successfully identify the adventurers, the story can play out differently depending on certain choices you made with respect to the other characters. I also liked how (Spoiler - click to show)the dragon still gave me three out of five stars on the ending where I failed to solve the mystery.

It was fun to play a gnoll. I remember them only as enemies in D&D games. I don't think I've ever played a gnoll before. Also, I like the idea of mashing up the fantasy and mystery genres. The combination of the two as displayed in Dungeon Detective felt fresh to me.

My only critique is that the game was a little on the short side. However, as I said in my review of Haywire, that's really another way of saying that I enjoyed Dungeon Detective and would have liked more game to play!

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Upside down and straightforward at the same time, January 13, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)

Some IFComp entries give you a "why didn't anyone do this sort of thing before" feel, and Dungeon Detective definitely falls into this category. It espouses no great philosophical views or breakthroughs, and while well laid-out, it's not super technically proficient. But it is a smooth, fun experience, with amusing characters, and I'm glad of all the bases it covered.

You, as a gnoll with somewhat broken English, offer your detective skills to a dragon who is worried treasure is missing. They have enough, of course. Dragons aren't greedy, at least not in the game-world. But they want things to be safe for others that dwell in the dungeon. You look through for clues and rumors, and there are five pieces of evidence that you need in order to nail down the perpetrators' identities. None of this is too esoteric or demanding, and the exploration feels just about right. There's no grinding for experience or anything, either, and DD even tracks the clues you've found so far, so you don't have to.

The end result, when the dragon interrogates you about your findings, is satisfying whether the dragon's convinced or not. They are a sporting type, so even if you mess up, nothing horrible happens to your character.

DD is the sort of game that could've been overwritten easily and beaten the joke to death. But it is also not underwritten. It hits at a lot of neat points. Whether or not you get the joke before officially solving the case, there are good laughs to be had. It's all well-constructed, and I think I played a post-comp version so I didn't encounter the bugs earlier reviewers reported. It's one of those entries where you have a relatively simple joke that won't baffle people, but it has enough side passages that it's legitimately fulfilling, and it's not just a joke.

I worry I potentially spoiled the experience with what I've written. But I don't think it's totally spoiled. I can't be the only person glad 1) that it exists and 2) that it was done well and got the expected laughs and then some. As someone who'd be exhausted if I went in for super-deep philosophy all the time but doesn't like vacuous entertainment, I found DD fit my needs well.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A fun high fantasy mystery romp, February 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game has a lot going for it. Fun images, a strong character voice, and nice, descriptive writing.

The setting is similar to D&D, with gnolls and dragons. The main character gnoll has caveman-like speech despite his intense intelligence, kind of like the narrator in Lost Pig and exactly opposite of the birds in Birdland.

It's a mystery game, and relies on the 'notice clues then pick the correct answer at then end' method of mystery writing. This isn't my favorite method, but the game's writing suits this style really well, as the clues are all based on worldbuilding.

The greatest flaw for me was how short it is. I wish that this game had been significantly longer.

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