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About the Story
They all stare at you expectantly, like children waiting to be told a bedtime story. Who can blame them? You are, after all, Antoine Saint Germain, the great French detective. No criminal has ever been a match for you, and everybody is looking forward to a description of your brilliant deductions.
5th Place overall; 1st Place, Miss Congeniality Awards - 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2010)
Winner, Best Individual PC - 2010 XYZZY Awards
There are secret identities and romances and sordid pasts aplenty, but the plot isn't any more outlandish than the genre demands. Death off the Cuff's main strength, though, is its efficiency. You're going to be typing on a tiny keyboard, and Christiansen accounts for this by adding plenty of shortcuts. The "focus" system, for instance, means that if you're already talking about James, you can just type "motive" instead of "talk about James' motive." You don't have to type "examine" or "talk about" every time you want to examine or talk about something; the game automatically fills in the blanks depending on context.
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This app has plenty of charm: a text-adventure murder-mystery inspired by Hercule Poirot. Well, Poirot if he didn't know what he was doing, anyway: "You must bluff your way through the traditional revelatory monologue at the end of a crime story," explains developer Simon Christiansen. "Can you make the murderer reveal him- or herself, without letting anyone know that you hadn't already solved the case?" A fun idea.
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Getting a handful of people in a room and explaining the plot resolution must serve some fantastically valuable narrative purpose, given how frequently it occurs in mystery novels. Turning that showcase of genius into intellectual slapstick is an artesian well of humor, continuously providing unforced comedy which doesn’t get old in this admittedly brief game.
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This is a great text-based puzzle game. It’s an interesting story with twists and turns that hold your attention. You can move along at your own pace as you figure out what questions to ask and whom to examine. You can also speed along by using hints to guide your progress. It’s all up to you. No matter what pace you set, it’s still a great story to interact with.
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Death Off The Cuff, available on both App Store and Google Play, is an interactive fiction game inspired by Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories. You interact with the game and its characters by typing in your commands. Incredibly intuitive, these commands help you to focus on a person, examine his or her body, clothes, accessories, etc. to gather more clues and have something more to talk about.
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Number of Reviews: 9
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I know that there are other murder-mystery IF games out there, but this is the first one I’ve played, and I have to say I really enjoyed myself. I really liked how it excused the fact that you the player don’t know what’s gone on. You are a detective with everyone gathered in the room to make the big-finish accusation, but the detective doesn’t have a clue who the murderer is. So you’re just making random observations about people, hoping that they will confess or in some way slip up.
The first time I was able to accuse someone, I didn’t because I didn’t think he did it. After playing some more and getting somewhere but still not able to accuse someone else (even though I’d started to figure out something of what was going on), I decided to save the game and see what happened if I accused the guy I thought was innocent. And it was a very nice ending. (Spoiler - click to show)The guy is obviously not guilty, but you ruin his life with the accusation, which eventually causes him to commit suicide. The ending part that usually says “You have won” or “You have died” instead says “You have saved your reputation.” Awesome.
One thing I’ve learned is to definitely type “about” or whatever if the author tells you to in the beginning. Some of these games would have been a lot more frustrating without a bit of guidance. In particular, the about text for this game outlines what the interaction is going to be like (mostly just talking about people or objects, with just a little manipulating the environment), which helped me enjoy it more. I certainly would have gotten more frustrated if I went into it expecting to be able to search for clues around the room, move objects, etc. and then finding I wasn’t able to.
The other kind of losing ending I found (Spoiler - click to show)(there are several versions of the “You have saved your reputation” ending, depending on whom you falsely accuse) was particularly great, too. (Spoiler - click to show)I had run out of stuff to do, so I started talking about my own moustache. It lets me keep talking about it, which is usually a sign from the game that there’s something interesting there. But I was saying stupid stuff, and then I was shot from behind while pacing around the room pontificating about facial hair.</spolier>
I highly recommend this game, and it makes me want to go look at some other murder-mystery IF games.
Death off the Cuff has a very original and interesting concept: you are a Poirot-style detective, and all the suspects are in the room, waiting for the final reveal; you must observe and evoke relevants topics to move the case forward and ultimately discover who did it.
The mechanics of the game are quite simple, since it's about focusing on the case and the suspects and find out what is not quite right with the facts. However I found several problems with this in the game. First of all, there are a few topics that weren't implemented, and others that quickly run dry, so when you're stuck you end up trying a lot of different things that get rejected by the parser. Second of all there were a lot of reveals, and maybe a bit too many: every character has several things to hide, but they may not all be relevant to the case, in which case they feel a bit futile. Lastly, some clues were very subtle and involved looking around to detect a very small change in the situation, which was a bit frustrating for me because I didn't always think of it and instead tried to talk about different topics that seemed logical but didn't work. (But I guess you can't expect the case to solve itself either, eh?)
On the other hand, the game's writing is very good, since I found it managed to stay in the style of Agatha Christie but with a touch more humor, which made it a refreshing and genuinely funny exercice in style. All the responses to action furthermore fit very well the setting, in that they all seem like parts of the exposition that the detective is attempting to create, and seam together very well. The responses to the observations you make to stall are almost guaranteed to make you chuckle.
On the implementation side, there was a few typos (missing " for instance), the hints were linear (when you can find the reveals in any order, meaning you can find a few of them and get stuck and the hints will hint at the things you've already discovered, which isn't very good), and, unfortunately, a pretty big bug that meant I had to restart and follow the walkthrough to see the end of the game (Spoiler - click to show)(I think I had looked at the constable a bit too much before getting all the other reveals done, and right after I focused on Jonathan's wounds, there was a picture of someone with a gun, and I barely had time to see that the constable had turned into a German murderer without explanation without dying. I imagine that's the trouble with having several reveals you can find in any order, is that if you didn't think of a particular order it produces a bug.) However, the rest of it was well implemented and well made.
To sum up, I wish I could have liked the game more, for its very nice writing and concept, but there was a few issues that made playing it frustrating.
Death Off The Cuff offers an intriguing premise: a famous detective, you've gathered all the suspects for that all-important scene in which you will reveal the true identity of the murderer. The only problem is that you haven't the first clue who that might be. In order to attempt to trick the culprit into a confession, you begin to spout off about whatever's at hand, using the command "talk about" for the majority of interactions, although examine and a few other verbs play a role. You can only talk about things that are visible in the room around you, a clever method of conflating the player with the PC, who is of course casting around desperately for any topic that might yield a confession. Nor is that the only way in which the player and the PC think alike: since neither of you know what you're doing, you'll spend most of the game suggesting random or arbitrary topics of conversation in the hopes that something sticks. The result is impressive in terms of putting you in the shoes of the detective; however, it's too arbitrary to be consistently enjoyable. The limitations on action, and the one-room nature of the game, keep things simple enough for the story to unfold tightly, and there are more than a few twists and turns. Typing "help" at any point will provide a hint on what to do next, and if you get fed up you can always accuse the wrong person. In all, a brief, linear diversion that's slightly more clever than it is fun.
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