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The Case of the Solitary Resident

by thesleuthacademy profile

Mystery, Detective
2024

(based on 2 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

Uncover the truth behind a mysterious death in an apartment.


Game Details


Awards

Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2024

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Number of Reviews: 2
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Satisfying mystery with a few rough edges, April 4, 2024

Having enjoyed the authorís *Last Vestiges* in last yearís IF Comp, I was happy to see another mystery game from them! This one is done in Twine rather than Inform, which allowed for some nice features, like a ďcase fileĒ page documenting the evidence youíve collected and pop-up notifications letting you know when analysis results are ready. The latter was a nice way of making it feel like time was passing in the game world and of ensuring that not too much information was dispensed at once.

Some aspects of the UI didnít work as well for me; once I had all the analysis results, that section of the case file became overwhelming, so I would have liked to see it divided up somehow (whether with subsections or perhaps a sub-page). I also didnít feel that the stock images representing the different locations and actions added much, as they were too generic to provide meaningful flavor.

Writing-wise, the tone was a bit odd, with the PC making some unjustified assumptions early on ((Spoiler - click to show)really, we never have any reason to suspect there was foul play), which didnít fit with the otherwise realistic nature of the game. In contrast, the NPC dialogue was rather flat, and I wished there had been more depth to the interview segments (at least with the deceasedís son).

As far as gameplay, investigating the apartment felt somewhat lawnmower-y, and I would have liked if visited and unvisited links were distinguished with different colors. Seeking out evidence does get more complex later on, though, as new information opens new avenues of questioning and there are things you have to look up via keywords. The most fun part to me was once I had all the evidence and could start constructing a theory about what happened. Reviewing the various pieces of evidence and making connections between them made me feel like I really was solving a mystery. And when I saw how granular the game wanted me to be in describing my conclusions, I went over it all again before committing, because I was really invested in getting it rightóand it was very satisfying when I did!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Spring Thing 2024: The Case of the Solitary Resident, April 5, 2024
by Kastel
Related reviews: st2024

A police procedural from the creator of Last Vestiges in IFComp 2023, The Case of the Solitary Resident is a Twine mystery that explores police investigations in an edutainment kind of way.

The player can navigate through the victim's apartment using hyperlinks and ask forensics to look at samples. Results come in as you get more clues and time passes. There's a lot of clicking compared to other Twine titles I've played because objects and rooms have their own hyperlinks within them -- it reminds me of other Twine games that try to mimic the look and feel of parser games.

The writing can be somewhat charming when given a chance to shine. I particularly like the description of examining camembert cheese and the narrator goes "It looks innocuous enough, but you cannot help but wonder... is there death in the cheese?" It's a delightfully cheesy line that I kind of wish was more prominent in the game because I found the title too serious.

Indeed, the narrator doesn't have the hardboiled cop vibe for me. Although the narration suggests that they've got experience and a desire to avoid wrongful convictions, I don't think they have much personality. I realize that the character is simply an avatar for the player, but it makes for a rather plain reading experience. The text wasn't engaging for me, and I found myself skimming lines to see what links to click on next.

The mystery itself isn't that interesting either. Having played Last Vestiges, I thought the solution would be similar and it's disappointing that there are no twists and turns in this game either. The interviews have very little interactivity since you only ask the suspects about the few clues that exist. And when the player is ready to make an accusation, they are presented with several options that look similar to each other and the jargon doesn't help much. Unlike Last Vestiges, there is an attempt to help the player learn the jargon through books, but I find them very unhelpful and wonder if this is even accurate (kudos to the developer for adding a disclaimer that this may not be accurate for the two books you read). I didn't get any satisfaction from solving the case as I found the general outline of events predictable; I just didn't know the specific jargon needed to close the case.

Still, I find the game a pleasure to play because I like the mystery genre and exploring the apartment as an investigator is always fun. While it does feel like a chore at times, obsessively clicking through the hyperlinks and making sure you've asked the lab to check for fingerprints and hair is quite refreshing. The procedural work is fun to click through, so I wonder if the game would be more interesting if we were just looking for clues. The game falls apart for me once I'm in the solving stage; the investigative parts have more depth (and are perhaps more attuned to the expertise of the developer).

To put it another way, I think the ideal mystery for me may not be about inventive solutions or ingenious logical puzzles. Rather, what I enjoy most is roleplaying as an investigator looking for clues -- the process, not the solution. Mysteries, even the great ones out there, tend to be sloppy in this regard and I can see games like The Case of the Solitary Resident correcting this trend.

I hope the developer continues making this game and polishing their craft.

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