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Games with good "Detective Mechanics"

Zombra

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[EDIT: NOTE: Years later, I don't really have the energy to keep updating the lists. Please check out the thread for other games recommended by the gang.]

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I've never been that into "adventure games", but lately I've played a few that have interesting mechanics that make me "feel like a detective". I want to play more games that make me feel like that. Talk to me.

What detective games do it right in your opinon? Which ones screw it up? Do you agree or disagree with others in the thread?

Games with detective mechanics the Codex likes
221 Baker St (1987)
The Blackwell Legacy (2006)
Black Closet (2015)
Blade Runner (1997)
Cognition: an Erica Reed Thriller (2012) Codex thread
Dark Fall: The Journal (2002)
Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder (2007) Codex thread
Dead Secret (2016) Codex thread
Discworld Noir (1999) Codex thread
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers (1993, rereleased 2014)

Kara no Shōjo (2008)
Kathy Rain (2016) Codex thread
KGB (1992)
The Last Express (1997)
Laura Bow 1: The Colonel's Bequest (1989)
Laura Bow 2: The Dagger of Amon-Ra (1992)
Maupti Island (1990)
"Mystery Game" by komilll (Unreleased)
Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge (2010)
Nancy Drew: 400 other games
Noir Syndrome (2014)
Police Quest I: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (1987)
Police Quest IV: Open Season (1993)
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments (2014)
Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper (2009)
Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel (1992)
Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Rose Tattoo (1996)
The Shivah (2013)
Sinking Island (2007) Codex thread
Tex Murphy: Mean Streets (1989)
Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive (1996)
YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World (1996)

Detective games the Codex warns against
Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders
Cruise for a Corpse
Detective Grimoire
Mortville Manor
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter


Related games the Codex has mixed opinions on
Ballyhoo (1985)
Black Dahlia (1998)
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (2005)
Condemned: Criminal Origins (2005)
Corruption (1988)
Danganronpa 1: Trigger Happy Havoc (2016)
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (2016)

Deadline (1982)
Emerald City Confidential (2009)
Grim Fandango (1998, rereleased 2015)
L.A. Noire (2011)
Legends of Murder 1: Stonedale Castle (1989)
Legends of Murder 2: Grey Haven (1991)
Life is Strange (2015)
Moonmist (1986)
Ripper (1996)
Suspect (1984)
The Witness (1983)
The Wolf Among Us (2014)
The X-Files Game (1998)
Zero Escape 1: Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors (2009)
Zero Escape 2: Virtue's Last Reward (2012)
Zero Escape 3: Zero Time Dilemma (2016)
 
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Zombra

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Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments
Best all time detectivey game. Really good mechanics for gathering info and filing it in your deduction cabinet (modeled like a brain), then wiring everything together into several possible solutions. Plenty of "soft" information that doesn't directly affect deduction mechanics, but gives the considerate player plenty of food for thought to lead him to the right answers. Lets you be wrong - every case can be closed even if you screw up. Knowing I could be wrong made me think extra hard to try to be right.

Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper
Lots of great information gathering and good use of the "deduction board" to piece things together and arrive at a conclusion. Doesn't let you be wrong like C&P but it's okay. Also has a fun reenactment mechanic where Holmes & Watson act out the murders to determine exactly how the crimes were committed. The game is a little bogged down by its "classic adventure game" heritage, especially at the beginning, but made me feel smart and is well worth playing.

Cognition: an Erica Reed Thriller

Traditional point & click, but with cool "psychic detective" mechanics that give the player several angles of attack, despite the limiting adventure game format of only one right answer to everything. Uses "soft" information often and forced me to think. I felt smart after solving many of the puzzles.

Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter

Fucked it up. Uses the same excellent mechanics as Crimes & Punishments (and even improves on them), but the content fails to provide enough information to the player and obscures story interest behind dozens of unwelcome ACTION ACTION minigames. I couldn't invest in my decisions and invariably ended up simply guessing "whodunit". I didn't even care when I got it wrong and abandoned the game after a few cases.

Detective Grimoire

Despite clue gathering, I did not feel like a detective as the deduction mechanics were too childish. The game has you put clues together, which is good, but if you assemble a wrong combination it simply honks at you WRONG and lets you try again. With nothing at stake you can just keep clicking things until you win. Disappointing.
 
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Explorerbc

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Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder ?

Your hero keeps a notebook with a list of observations, thoughts and conversations. You can combine them along with items to deduct what's going on. You find a lot of documents in the game like letters, police reports etc and you can underline words and phrases to highlight some clues. There are two modes, the standard one that tells you which documents are important and gives you a clue counter, and the free one that lets you try to highlight every document if you want. There are "hidden" clues and a lot of optional observations to make, that help you understand things a bit better. At the end of the game it tells you how much hidden stuff you managed to uncover. You play a police detective hunting down a private investigator assosiated with a lovecraftian cult.
 

Tick Tock Crocodile

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I really, really like the Zero Escape series. The games are Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors, Virtue's Last Reward, and Zero Time Dilemma (and should be played in that order). I also have a major weakness for the Danganronpa series, but that one is much more absurd/over the top/anime, which is not everyone's cup of tea. Zero Escape is played much more seriously.
 
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Tick Tock Crocodile

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Oh shit, I've been waiting for 9x9x9 to come to PC so I could start the series. Looks like it got ported earlier this year. Now I just need to find a good deal on it.

Yup, it finally got ported over, as did the second game. IIRC you can get the two of them or the whole trilogy at once on Steam, so it's pretty convenient.
 

Zombra

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Who in their right minds would characterize the Zero Escape games as "detective" or "investigation" style games?
Despite being delighted that these games were brought up (I wouldn't have known about the ports otherwise), I am forced to
tick.gif
Agree x 1.

Let's start from the basics. Adventure games where the protagonist is a detective: Gabriel Knight. Blade Runner. Police Quest.
Would you describe these games as having "good detective mechanics"? Or are they simply adventure games that have detectives in them?

Also note that I'm happy to hear about non-"adventure" games but this subforum seemed like the best place to start.
 

MRY

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I've heard that one of the Telltale Sam & Max games actually has good interrogation sequences. I can't remember which, and I remain skeptical, but I heard it.

I liked the way the notebook worked in the first Blackwell, where you could use topics like items and combine them, etc.
 
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Excidium II

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In mean streets you actually have to keep your own notebook, the game uses a parser. You drive around town, interrogate people and even ask your assistant for info via fax while travelling in real time.

I've never seen another game like that. Very immersive since it's all on you to figure the whos and whats. The other Tex Murphy games just play like generic use this on that adventures.
 
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IHaveHugeNick

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Sherlock games by Frogwares are excellent. LA Noire. Cognition.

Other than that, Sinking Island. Wolf Among Us from Telltale had a very noir-detective vibe, although it's all scripted obviously.
 

WhiteGuts

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I second L.A Noire. It's far from perfect in that aspect, but it lets you botch your investigation, eventhough it has no consequences since the storyline moves forward no matter how good/bad you are.
 

ghostdog

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The 2 lost files of Sherlock Holmes games: The Case of the serrated scalpel and the Case of the Rose tattoo really make you feel like a detective even if the mechanics are more traditional adventure mechanics. They also had a fantastic journal with the case notes taken by Dr. Watson, that changed depending on how you approached the game and what you did.

In Blade Runner you had a Computer system with which you examined and analyzed the items you found in order to discover clues. You also used the Voight-Kampff machine in order to determine replicants. Additionally, the game has a big number of different routes and endings, which also makes it kinda unique.

In Discworld Noir conversations gave you clues in your notebook which you would later use to ask other people about. The game had a nice film noir atmosphere.

Police Quest IV: Open Season doesn't have any distinct mechanics that I can remember, but it's developed in such a way where you follow very realistic police procedures, in the way of investigating crime scenes and handling the evidence. It's one of the most realistic detective adventure games.

As Far as Tex Murphy games, The Pandora Directive is probably the best one and it really makes you feel like a gumshoe. It has the interrogation mode where you can approach the subject with 3 different moods/styles, first person exploration and clue gathering on location, examining items in 3d for extra clues, combining items and first person puzzle solving.
 

Explorerbc

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Yeah, Sinking Island is another one

It's a classic whodunit: you have to find who killed the millionaire before the island sinks. I played it long ago but you combine different testimonies and items in your inventory to see who is lying.

Another game that seems to use such mechanics is Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders, but I haven't gotten around to playing it yet.
 

Zombra

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Updated original post. Added Wolf Among Us as a "mixed opinion" title ... it does have a great vibe but no "detective mechanics" to speak of.
 

Zombra

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Yeah, I'm still figuring out the best way to organize them. I don't want to have 10 different categories but I might end up having to, especially if the lists get much longer.
 
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Excidium II

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As Far as Tex Murphy games, The Pandora Directive is probably the best one and it really makes you feel like a gumshoe. It has the interrogation mode where you can approach the subject with 3 different moods/styles, first person exploration and clue gathering on location, examining items in 3d for extra clues, combining items and first person puzzle solving.

Furthermore, your choices (and success/failure in puzzle solving) have consequences, as there are multiple branches and endings in Pandora. Pretty rare in adventure games to have this sort of soft fail state.

Though admittedly not all the puzzles in Pandora are well designed, let alone detective-like. The series in general suffers from the "puzzles for puzzles sake" problem.
Not mean streets. It's a completely different kind of game.
 

Explorerbc

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There is no need to obsess over lists, and mentioning a game here shouldn't count as a full endorsement from the codex since there are varying degrees of quality and different opinions.

Just a list of suggestions for whoever is willing to dig deeper and find out for themselves if they like something or not.
 

Tramboi

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Maupiti Island is probably the best sleuth game. Insanely hard though, but brilliant.
Infocom's Deadline is quite solid if you don't mind text.

I'm surprised that Colonel's Bequest and Laura Bow 2 are not there, they're ok.

Wouldn't recommend : Mortville Manor and Cruise for a corpse.
 
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