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Itís a [spoiler]?, November 5, 2022
An old acquaintance named Edward Harcourt writes an unexpected and peculiar letter to you stating that he inherited a title to his familyís estate, and requests that you visit right away. This is a mystery game takes place in Scotland in the early 1920s.
Character creation comes first in this game. Not only does the player get to customize their characterís name, gender, and appearance, but they also decide on the protagonistís history with Edward Harcourt and their past relationship with him before he appears in the game. There are quite a few possibilities, as indicated with a (Spoiler - click to show) dream sequence soon after you arrive.
Reflecting on the nature of your relationship with Edward, you find yourself thinking back to when you first met himÖ
The only plot element that the game gives us is Edward Harcourtís reason for seeking out the protagonist for help. We learn that his (Spoiler - click to show) mother has been suffering from a mysterious form of insanity, and that he has been trying to find a cure for it. He thinks that the solution may lie through occultism which he has been studying to understand his motherís ravings, but his only real lead is a cryptic letter from his uncle about exploring a castle. He wants the protagonist to help investigate.
So far, you navigate this mystery by snooping around and interviewing people (if they are willing to talk to you). As you investigate there may be clues that light up in the text. If you click on them more information is added to your nifty journal that summarizes your findings. This feature cultivates a detective vibe while also being incredibly useful.
The spoiler in the title of my review is that this game (Spoiler - click to show) is a demo. I did not realize that until it ended. It was sort of like biting into a chocolate bunny during Easter only to find that it is hollow, not solid chocolate like you thought. But there is an upside to this. Demo or not, this really is an excellent game. I hope the authors continue to develop it. So far, the game starts with a prologue and ends about halfway through chapter two. You arrive at the castle late at night and go on an excursion to town the next day.
Even as (Spoiler - click to show) a demo there is plenty of replay value while exploring the town, particularly with what you wear and where you visit first. So far, the gameplay follows the narrative of the outsider protagonist eager to get to work and start digging through the ancient history of a town where people are, at best, wary of you. You may pick up some Anchorhead vibes here or there.
The man bangs his hands on the table. His eyes are full of fury. Cognitive dissonance can be a real (Spoiler - click to show) bitch.
Clothing is important because it affects how people respond to you poking around. Are you a rich snob? A vagrant? Those are snap judgements that everyone makes, but it is interesting to compare these reactions among separate playthroughs. You already are the odd one out by being an outsider. It does not take much to make it worse (although sometimes, that is how you get the best answers).
The other replay factor is where you visit. There is a pub, church, harbor, and stores. You can visit two before the game (Spoiler - click to show) calls it a day and ends. But visiting the store first provides a different experience than if you visit it second. Same goes for the other locations. You can learn a lot from mixing and matching where you go. (Spoiler - click to show) The demo is not meant to played once. If you are interested in the story, you can find much more of it through replay. I recommend saving the game before you go exploring.
The game already has nice visuals. There is a stylish menu section on the left side of the screen. Some of the headers are writing in cursive (thankfully, not the gameplay text), and decorative swirls are also added. The screen is black aside from journal entries which are stylized to give the appearance of flipping through a physical journal. It all worked together to create an effective ambience.
In conclusion, The Trials and Tribulations of Edward Harcourt is an intriguing story with a lot of work put into it. When I went to play it, I was not expecting to see, (Spoiler - click to show) "You have reached the end of this demo. We hope youíve enjoyed it!" I wish there was more, and I hope there will be. But did I enjoy it? Yes, I absolutely did.