Dungeon Detective

by Wonaglot and Caitlin Mulvihill

Episode 1 of Dungeon Detective

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Number of Reviews: 4
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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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