Folks, I knew my backlog wasn’t going to be all bangers1, but I didn’t expect to write my first bummer post so early in this blog’s lifespan.
I really liked Blazing Griffin’s Hercule Poirot: The First Cases (2021) and was mostly positive on their earlier work Murder Mystery Machine, so I had somewhat higher expectations going into The London Case. I don’t usually agree with mixed reviews on Steam but I think I’m with the negative crowd on this one.
I had two technical issues with this game which soured my experience. First, very frequently the characters’ mouths wouldn’t animate when speaking. In the grand scheme of things that was okay, though. It was awkward and underscored just how little budget or time (or both! or any number of other constraints) the studio must have had when they were making it, but I made peace with it pretty quickly.
The other technical issue I ran into was certain things not triggering when they’re supposed to. In one instance I had to exit and re-enter an area several times before a necessary cutscene started playing and I could progress in the game.
There’s so much going back and forth between the same, like, 4-5 areas. One of those areas is the museum where the main hall (that you arrive at whenever you travel to that location) is usually useless, because most of the clues and items you end up gathering at the restoration room and there’s no way to just fast travel directly to the restoration room. There’s also a Theater Alley where you’re forced to walk all the way to the other end to speak to characters and then walk all the way back to go somewhere else.
And you have to go back and forth between those areas because you’ll come across a “puzzle” and will need to revisit every single location you can to see if there’s a new item that became interact-able that previously wasn’t. In one instance I needed to lure a cat out of its hiding spot and I spent so long going between locations until finally I visited one where suddenly there was a jug of cream I could pick up.
Like their previous investigation games, The London Case has these “mind maps” where clues are collected as nodes that you can sometimes connect to make deductions. A loop I frequently experienced:
1. Game tells me there is a connection I can make
2. I try to connect two nodes which make the most sense to me
3. Game tells me that’s wrong
4. I try again 2 more times
5. Game highlights which nodes should be connected
It’s not a good feeling. There’s very little about this game that feels good. The murder mystery itself was…fine? It’s got a few twists but I just never felt excited by it. The writing was not as good as Blazing Griffin’s previous games and the quality of the everything else (voice acting, animation, art direction) also didn’t particularly inspire joy. The actual experience of playing was so dull and frustrating at times that my main driver for going through the story wasn’t to find out what happens next, it was so I could be done with the game and move on with my life.