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Waiting for Sunrise

by Victor Selnæs Breum


Web Site

(based on 2 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

"A minimal murder mystery.

You find a man and a woman sitting in an empty parking lot, next to the dead body of a young man.

The two are not answering any of your questions, they are simply sitting still, looking at nothing in particular. They are both breathing slowly.

The sun is rising." - Blurb from Itch.io page.

Made for Nordic Game Jam 2021.

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Number of Reviews: 2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Murder mystery vs. Sunrise, January 2, 2023

The sun is below the horizon.
June 21st, 4.15am, 2020, Aalborg

This is a cryptic but interesting murder mystery game.

You are an American detective who has arrived to work at Denmark with the hope that you will encounter fewer murder cases. One night you feel like going for a walk only to find a gruesome scene: A dead body flanked a man and a woman sitting on the ground, both unresponsive of their surroundings. Looks like you have your work cut out for you.

The “crime scene” allows you to search the area, examine NPCs, and search their belongings. These provide clues about the circumstances behind the murder. After you comb through everything, the game takes to you a questionnaire that challenges you to solve the murder mystery.

To solve the case, you fill in answers for five questions about the murder. For each question you get a menu of possible answers. If you get any of them wrong the game tells you to resubmit the form. Sure, you can just guess until you find the right answers, but since they are evaluated together it is difficult to answer all five without exploring the gameplay.

Early morning brightness is setting in. The sun is still below the horizon.

There is a devious timer at the top of the screen that marks the time until sunrise. Oddly enough, it counts up to convey how much time has passed rather than how much time you have left. I think that the time restraints in this game are reasonable. It adds urgency without rushing the player. In fact, you can approach this game quite leisurely, although there is a penalty if you fail to solve the mystery before the sun rises.

Now, the timer has bugs. If you toggle between the crime scene and the question page the status of the sun automatically goes back to “The sun is below the horizon.” It does not reset the timer, only the sunrise which detracts from the timer’s potency as a time restraint on the gameplay.

There is also a case where the (Spoiler - click to show) man and the woman die twice, but the gameplay only acknowledges it the second time. Even then, this change is only seen in the questions page where it says, “Is someone still in danger? No one is in danger anymore. They are all dead,” and yet the crime scene acts as if they are still alive. It's not cohesive.

Once you correctly answer the questions the game gives a summary of what happened. As you can see, there are definite (Spoiler - click to show) cult themes right from the start. The three NPCs are (Spoiler - click to show) participating in a ritual that has not gone as smoothly as they hoped. Something about joining a deity(?) named Phoebus. Later I learned that Phoebus simply means the sun. They were extreme sun worshipers. The ritual is ultimately a suicide pact (themes on suicide are brief) conducted on the summer solstice. The goal? Not sure. Perhaps they were hoping to be transported somewhere or maybe I’m just grasping for straws. I don’t want to spoil anything else.

I was actually kind of hoping that the game would go the wild route and actually feature some (Spoiler - click to show) worldly being plotting to inhabit these three cult members. The story, setting, and strung-out NPCs reminds of That Night at Henry's Place or What Girls Do In The Dark (I recommend both) where the player comes across people (Spoiler - click to show) casually dabbling in the extraterrestrial and/or supernatural without necessarily knowing the depth they are in. In these, the protagonist becomes an outside observer who may or may not be sucked right in. That part does not occur here, but still cultivates a feeling of has everyone lost it?

Not much to say about characters since there is only the protagonist and three unresponsive NPCs, but the rationale behind the protagonist was a bit flimsy. They feel compelled to apply their expertise by solving the mystery first, when theoretically that would not be needed to call for help since all you see is a dead body and two individuals clearly having a tough time breathing and not responding to the player’s attempts to communicate with them.

You curse yourself for not bringing your phone on your walk, but decide to figure out what you can.

Only when you solve the mystery can you call for help. It makes decent sense from a gameplay standpoint as a murder mystery piece, but the logic stuck out. And as for calling for help, if this was a mere short stroll, why not go back? The setting seems to be some parking lot out in the middle of nowhere, when in fact the protagonist lives nearby.

Let’s see… Black background, white text, links in a nice shade of blue (a different shade in than the default Twine link blue). Decent formatting. Occasionally spelling issues. I’d say that’s about it.

Final thoughts
The game describes itself as a “minimal murder mystery,” and it succeeds well enough at creating a bite-sized investigative mystery piece. It was fun and intriguing. However, it is not a minimal mystery without flaws, particularly structural flaws. Gameplay concept is straightforward, but the mechanics are rough around the edges. The timer was a key component in shaping the gameplay and yet it falls apart at the seams once the player starts to dig in.

I do think the strongest part is the list of questions for solving the mystery. Filling out a questionnaire in an interactive fiction game may sound boring, but in Waiting for Sunrise it is effective at creating an investigative feel by requiring the player to do some basic problem solving to advance the story. Ultimately, it is effectively atmospheric and worth your time if you are hungry for the “murder mystery” genre in a short Twine format.

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Short but interesting, January 18, 2024

I liked how it's heavy on deduction skills and how it just cuts to the chase with the narrative. Short and sweet; totally my cup of tea. I find the deduction stage somewhat unique in that you first get to choose options from dropdown menus, and then if you've got it all correct, submit a written report of the details of what you thought happened, which allows you to then compare your report with the truth of the matter. The truth of the mystery made a lot of sense with the clues hidden in the narrative. Hope to see more of such works!

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This is a list of Danish Interactive Fiction and Text Adventure games. More titles can be found on the CASA Solution Archive. http://solutionarchive.com/ As a game preservationist I work with registering and collecting all Danish games...

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