Lord Bellwater's Secret

by Sam Gordon profile

Historical
2007

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Number of Reviews: 9
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Carefully crafted, player-friendly mistery, April 18, 2022

I got drawn into this piece because of its setting: it is not everyday that I get to play a serviceman to a Victorian household!. During the few first few turns I am introduced to my character (Bert Smith), the place (the master's study) and my motivations (furtively searching for answers about the death of Elsie, Bert's girlfriend) but I am also let free to wander the location as I take in some more pieces of the story.

Most of the game is played in a single room with a few points of interest in which we gather clues to solve the greater riddle. Movement between items and places is seamless and in that sense (and many others, such as in the general framework and inventory management) I was reminded of Final Selection - also by Sam Gordon - but where that game is heavy on the puzzles and red herrings, Lord Bellwater's Secret is generous with its storytelling and places the puzzles as little plot devices.

Each puzzle and clue found is cohesive with the rest and moves the player closer to the heart of the mistery. There is plenty of classic adventure trickery here (Spoiler - click to show)(the secret book, the crest that opens a hidden crevice) but there are also affordable leaps of logic (Spoiler - click to show)(the hidden safe box and its combination) and a heart-racing finale. I found the sense of rhythm to be good, certainly helped by its relative shortness and self-contained nature. The piece is also very fair to the player: I remained convinced that there was nothing being obscured behind specific verbs, never got really stuck and never felt unwelcome. This is a game that wants to be played.

The writing also gets a good mileage out of the locale. Without being overly verbose there is enough text to picture (and beautifully color) the surroundings and characters. It helps that of information is conveyed not only from Bert's point of view but also from (Spoiler - click to show)Bert's thoughts and the handwriting of other characters, which report a lot about their human qualities. Should I have to offer a highlight of the writing I would examine Cadogan Square again; it is just scenery but there is something about the silhouette of London in the moonlight.

As for extras, the game shows care and respect: there are sections regarding historical accuracy, a choice of date format, a reminder of the plot... And there is of course a hint system which could spoil the fun, so I only recommend a trip there once the game is finished, to search for missed clues (I got two endings, I think there are more).

In a nutshell, I consider Lord Bellwater's Secret to be a very good game and I can fully recommend it to anyone. Those looking for a lengthy game, complex character development, obtuse plots twists or overwhelmingly large worlds might not find their tastes here, but anyone up for a fun mistery romp will come out satisfied.