Who Shot Gum E. Bear?

by Damon L. Wakes

Mystery
2022

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Number of Reviews: 8
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Who Shot Roger Rabbit? but make it sweet and sticky, May 25, 2023

~~ Updated Review from the 2022 IFComp bc I played the game again ~~

You are Bubble Gumshoe, a detective on the scene, tasked to solve the murder of Gum E. Bear. This funny parody of a detective mystery will leave you with a sweet tooth, or a cavity...

Replaying a puzzle game or mystery game is difficult, especially when you know the solution. What is enjoyable is trying to catch all the little details you may have missed in the first round.... which was a lot in my case. The first time I plated WSGEB? I accused the first person I interacted with out of frustration and won the game. Soon after I started again, tried some different commands, accused someone else, and called it a day. Still, there was quite a bit I missed.

As Bubble Gumshoe, you get to investigate clues around the body, examine the 3(5-ish) other locations, ask questions to the NPCs in each spot about clues or other people (or some other semi-related topic). And finally accuse who you think killed Gum. There is also a small puzzle to unlock a room.

The whole concept of parodying murder mystery by setting it in a Candy-land world is honestly hilarious to me. The game really goes in the tropes of the noir-themes, with the hard policeman, the femme fatale, the mafioso hidden behind a locked door. Amidst the puns galore, the dark and gruff background is contrasted by the very sweet names and humourous descriptions following an action (trying to taste everything, even myself was very funny - light cannibalistm).

After a few action, the header displays different bits of text, either related to the setting (Itís always nighttime in Sugar City.) or about how to play (telling you to smell or taste things). But I think there are only 3-4 variations before it repeats itself...

If you are in a location with a named NPC, every time you input an action, that NPC will do something (Officer Donut will click his pen, Candy Kane tries to mix some cocktails...). Those are funny little details, especially when you remember all those NPCs look like some sort of candy.

My main gripe with the game is how obvious who the murderer is: the only person who can hold a gun. And while you can go around the other spaces and question everyone, the NPCs are not the ones giving you an relevant information, the added text under the action description is. Even reading the description of the Alley should give you the answer (you could solve the mystery in one turn). The Who-dun-it seems very shallow when the answer is just right there.

Some other stuff:
> while this parser is pretty short and mainly uses five verbs (examine/X, ask, take, smell, taste) and the cardinal directions, it does not have a hint or help command (and lacked a walkthrough until now). You need to have a bit of parser knowledge (or the parser cheat sheet).
> there was some inconsistencies with the dialogue regarding the use or not of quotes or with the capitalisation of words. It might be nitpicky, but it did confuse or annoyed me me a bit.
> the game also put some spotlight on objects, but does not make them interactable (cigarette) or miss the options for some fun action (getting a drink at the bar).

Still enjoyed it more than the first time around :)