The Big Sleaze

by Fergus McNeill


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Two nations, divided by a common language, July 10, 2020

Bored of the Rings developers Delta 4 followed up their cult hit with The Big Sleaze, a sendup of hardboiled detective novels in the tradition of Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane. Rather than just being an extended gag, however, the game does a good job at actually being a game. Its puzzles are mostly reasonable, and the adventure is long and meaty enough to reward a playthrough.

This game is entirely fine. It manages to squeeze far more plot and narrative into the constraints of the typical tape-loaded 8-bit game by dividing into three parts with reasonable breakpoints.

But it's remembered more fondly in its native country for the same reason it may immediately break the player's immersion: it tries to walk the line between "American potboiler novel" and "British vocabulary" and, at least on the west side of the Atlantic, very quickly shows the seams. It's the digital embodiment of John Cleese's growly American accent: it's obvious what he's doing, but it's also obvious why it's not quite right.

If you're unbothered by "cheque/check" and "kerb/curb" issues in your potboiler tales, you'll find a heavy supply of tongues in cheeks, very tight inventory limits and some guess-the-verb problems with good-for-their-constraints graphics.

A version of this review originally appeared in The Spectrum Games Bible Vol. 3.

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