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Father Leofwine is Dead

by Pugpup

Historical Mystery
2019

Web Site

(based on 11 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

Someone cut the wise old priest's throat, and everyone at court is a suspect. Who murdered him, and how will King Alfred fight the Danes without his right hand man?

Winner of Mizal's 2019 Lone Hero contest.

Approximately 34,000 words.


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Member Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Murder at the Royal Court, September 8, 2021
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: History

Father Leofwine, the King's councillor and Queen's confessor, has been brutally murdered! Somewhat unexpectedly, the King chooses Cynehelm, his Tax Collector, to surreptitiously investigate the matter.

Cynehelm in his turn recruits an accomplice, Wulf, to do the stealthy legwork while he talks to the eoldarmen himself.

I love historical detectives. The (static fiction) books about Gordianus the Finder (Steven Saylor) and Brother Cadfael (Ellis Peeters) have brought me many hours of joy. From the first paragraph, I knew this game was right up my alley.

Father Leofwine is Dead begins with an intruiging "locked room" murder mystery and spreads out through the Castle, even the City. The story has two protagonists, and you alternate making choices for them. The different characters and social stations of the protagonists lets you see the the investigation through two different viewpoints, as Cynehelm is a member of the King's closest entourage, and Wulf is more at home in the backstreets and dark alleys.

I found it very well written and truly engaging. I'm not a completist in story-games, I will not go back and see all the different branches of what-could-have-happened. (I'll go back a page if I die unexpectedly, but I won't replay to see all the text.) This approach immersed me deeply in the story, laying a weight on each choice so it had to be seriously considered. To aid the player in choosing, there are many clues laid out in this story's pages. The mystery of course demands that the player differentiates between important clues and dead-end paths, a tricky but doable task in this game.

The writing is very good. There's a nice rhythm to the sentences and the historical atmosphere comes through without laying it on too thick. The suspense is sustained (even turned up) throughout the story, maybe even a bit too much. Perhaps one or two resting spots would have allowed me to catch my breath before diving in again.

The layout is great, the pages are the right length to draw the reader in while still presenting important choices to signal a new beat.

Some small nitpicks:
-I found it disorienting that the story is told from the 3rd person perspective of one of the protagonists, but that some of the choices inconsistently refer to a 2nd person "you". Either this is a remnant of the 2nd person IF-convention that slipped through, or it is a deliberate breaking of the fourth wall, acknowledging the player as the real decision maker. If the latter, it did not succeed as a style choice for me. If anyhting, it felt jarring to be adressed as player in a story I had been reading "from above".
-The writing is very good. Therefore, the typos are all the more grating. I reckon one per page. Pity.

Very, very intruiging historical mystery.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Father Leofwine is Dead, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: Pugpup

General Recommendation: I recommend this game. Itís a very engaging story, and the mystery is realistic and clever. It has appeal for both puzzle-solving players, and those who prefer more traditional narratives
Preview: You are tasked with finding out who murdered Father Leofwine, a priest and friend of King Alfred. You play as two characters, one the official court investigator of the murder, and an unofficial investigator with less resources and more difficult methods.

=SPOILERS BELOW=

RATINGS:

Basic Plot & Coherence:
The plot shines here. A lot of mystery stories (interactive or otherwise) seem to throw in suspects and twists just to confuse the reader into missing the true guilty party, but in this story, each development of the plot was logical, and made perfect sense in retrospect. Even the surprises made sense in the context of the characters and world the author had developed. The idea of having two seperate and unrelated guilty parties is a clever plot device, it complicates the story without sacrificing continuity. This historical context also adds a lot.

Characters & Development:
Cynehelm and Wulf work well as a duo, and bring a sense of scope the story that might be hard to replicate with just one narrator. Cynehelm is experienced in the kingís court and bureaucratic matters, while Wulf is both more experienced in the real world and far more jaded. Each brings their own unique take on the story.
The side characters, even the ones who had only a few scenes, all showed their character and personality. I liked the dynamic between the members of the kingís court. Itís clear during any of the scenes where they interact that nobody trusts anybody, and several of them have their own private plans.
I also particularly liked the queenís role in the story. Her being the murderer was both satisfying and surprising.

Grammar:
I saw no mistakes.
Mastery of Language:
I was impressed with how the language was adjusted to fit the tone of the work. Itís really believeable that these characters are living in medieval europe based on how they talk and act.

Branching:
This story is fairly linear, but thatís not really a problem in the context of an investigation. I take off a point because the choies about trusting wulf seems to have little impact on the story, and that could have been an interesting branch.

Player Options/fair choice:
No problems here, I thought many of the insta-death paths were unusually well foreshadowed for save-or-die choices.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:
I enjoyed my playthrough a lot. Though I died a lot, I did figure out the queen was guilty of the muder about halfway through. I wasnít sure of Alrdic though until the end.

CONCLUSION: A fun and engaging game with a compelling mystery.

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