The Detective's Apprentice

by John C. Knudsen profile

Mystery
2020

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
The ebook is better, June 27, 2020

This game is an adaptation of a 1932 book, Minute Mysteries by H.A. Ripley. If you've read Encyclopedia Brown, you know what it's like.

Each case is a short story ending in a question. In the paper book version, you're meant to try to deduce the answer, then flip to the back of the book to see if you were right. In the ebook version up on Gutenberg.org, you can click a link to skip ahead to the right answer.

Here in this Twine version, the mysteries are posed as multiple-choice questions. But these questions are typically "yes/no" or "murder/suicide" questions, which don't work as a way of evaluating whether the reader correctly understood the mystery.

In most cases, the story is usually a tale told by a character, and the Twine version asks, "did the character tell the truth?" But if the character had told the truth, then there would be no mystery. So in literally all of the cases where the game asks, "is this true?" the answer is "no." In almost all cases where the question is "murder or suicide?" the answer is "murder," though it's always "the opposite of what the characters think/say it is."

For example, take the very first mystery, "A Crack Shot." In the story, a character named Butler tells a story of an accidental shooting. The game asks, "was this an accident or murder?" You can easily guess that it was murder, without even reading the story, because there would be no mystery otherwise.

But in the original novel, which you can read on gutenberg.org, the story just tells you it was murder on the last line.

There, the story ends like this: "‘Why did you deliberately murder Marshall?’ demanded Fordney abruptly ... ‘for that’s what you did.’" And then the story asks, "How did the Professor know Butler had murdered his companion?"

That is the right question to ask, but it doesn't make sense to pose it as a multiple-choice question; it would be much too obvious to reveal the the answer on a menu of options.

I think this would have been a better adaptation if it had adhered more closely to the ebook. Ask me "how did he know?" but just let me click a link to see the answer; don't attempt to keep score. Also, rather than splitting up the main part of the story onto multiple pages, keep the whole setup on one page, so I can scroll back and review it!

(In fairness, it works a lot better when the game offers a list of suspects—even when it's just two suspects.)

P.S. There's a bug on Case 9 where the answers are reversed; if you click "educated" the game thinks you clicked "illiterate"; if you click "illiterate" the game thinks you clicked "educated."

P.P.S. I think the quotations work better with author citations. The original book included authorship citations for each quotation.