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Charming, campy fun, October 9, 2016
This is a campy Poirot spoof with a delightful premise: the player takes on the role of the detective who has gathered his suspects together for the final reveal. Unfortunately, he has no idea who the killer is, and must ad lib his way through his speech instead, gathering clues as he goes. Once the player thinks they know who the killer is, they can ACCUSE their suspect to end the game. This conceit works perfectly to turn the Poirot-style reveal into a piece of IF, neatly sidestepping the player/character dissonance that would be created if the detective already knew the killerís identity while the player did not.
The game is well paced: everything takes place in a single room, the small number of objects and characters keeps the player on track, and the plot develops quickly as new clues are uncovered. That said, it was occasionally frustrating to comb through each suspect in turn to find one small detail I had missed, and I spent a lot of time examining characters Iíd already exhausted.
The spoof is down to a tee, and this is where the real fun lies. The Poirot parody plays on all the right tropes, featuring a cast of ludicrously suspect characters whose dramatic revelations kept me thoroughly entertained (Spoiler - click to show)(at one point, the detective yanks a fake beard off one of the suspects). If youíre looking for a sophisticated murder mystery requiring Sherlock levels of deduction, look elsewhere: this game is a puzzle-light whodunit full of charmingly hokey reveals.
Unfortunately, the ending leaves a little to be desired, and feels at odds with the rest of the game. (Spoiler - click to show)The murderer reveals himself towards the end, and itís impossible to accuse him beforehand. This throws the whole mechanic of making accusations out of the window, and I felt cheated of the opportunity to point the finger at the murderer myself. At the same time as the ending feels true to the gameís tone, it also feels a little anticlimactic: all of my sleuthing and clue-gathering eventually came to nothing.
In spite of its flaws, I had a lot of fun playing Death off the Cuff: its clever premise and charming style see it through.