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Games with good "Detective Mechanics"

KrunchyFriedGames

Krunchy Fried Games
Developer
Joined
Dec 2, 2023
Messages
10
Location
Manchester, England
I remember that Agatha Christie game on the NDS. The first puzzle was a maths problem involving train travel. I've never stopped playing a game so quickly. On the other hand, Touch Detective was excellent, if maybe a bit cute and casual for this list.

Chicken Police is a series you might enjoy.

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rolandstones

Novice
Joined
Mar 19, 2023
Messages
7
The Roottrees are Dead is a game released two months ago that feels very similar to Obra Dinn, if only by virtue of how blatantly it apes the formula. Aside from falling somewhere between shameless ripoff and loving homage, it is also a free kinda buggy itch.io game, because AI art is banned on steam. If you can stomach all of that, you can probably have a decent afternoon working through this game.

The game is set in the 90s, when a plane crash kills the president of a major candy company and his three daughters. It falls to the player to recreate the family tree of the original owner of the company from him and his wife to all his direct descendants. you have access to 90s era search engines, a database for the local library, and a collection of periodicals. To complete an entry, you need the name, the occupation, and a picture, and entries are validated in threes. The dev even did that thing where every time you get three fates correct the game drops everything to do a little animation. It differs from Obra Dinn in that there seems to be nothing supernatural going on, and at the last bit you have to do entries in groups of four. I'm currently stuck at 41/50 fates and I feel content.
 

Berekän

A life wasted
Patron
Joined
Sep 2, 2009
Messages
3,103
The Roottrees are Dead is a game released two months ago that feels very similar to Obra Dinn, if only by virtue of how blatantly it apes the formula. Aside from falling somewhere between shameless ripoff and loving homage, it is also a free kinda buggy itch.io game, because AI art is banned on steam. If you can stomach all of that, you can probably have a decent afternoon working through this game.

The game is set in the 90s, when a plane crash kills the president of a major candy company and his three daughters. It falls to the player to recreate the family tree of the original owner of the company from him and his wife to all his direct descendants. you have access to 90s era search engines, a database for the local library, and a collection of periodicals. To complete an entry, you need the name, the occupation, and a picture, and entries are validated in threes. The dev even did that thing where every time you get three fates correct the game drops everything to do a little animation. It differs from Obra Dinn in that there seems to be nothing supernatural going on, and at the last bit you have to do entries in groups of four. I'm currently stuck at 41/50 fates and I feel content.
This one was fun, I recommend taking notes extensively because there's a lot of text you have to scour through and it's easy to forget something relevant in a page you looked at 30 mins ago after you went on a different rabbit hole. It's easy to get stuck because you missed a keyword at some point. I also found that some of the optionals are impossible to get without guessing, but I feel like they're mostly there to help misdirect a bit.

The ending will trigger certain individuals, and honestly it feels too on the nose, but at a certain point I forgot there was even a bigger mystery to all of this and I was just going through the motions, uncovering the tree and getting a bit of insight into this family dynamics.
 

Morpheus Kitami

Liturgist
Joined
May 14, 2020
Messages
2,586
Anyone else here play any of the J.B. Harold games? I've only played the first, but the first two and the last one have been translated into English. It's a pretty weird series, a Japanese series based on the more hardboiled American-style detective stuff. The first one had a minor controversy over how there's an unsolved rape in it, technically unconnected to the main story. It's matter of fact about it, like it's matter of fact about everything, the game just gives you information and it's up to you to decide who to arrest and what to do about it.
 

ghostdog

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Dec 31, 2007
Messages
11,101
Anyone else here play any of the J.B. Harold games? I've only played the first, but the first two and the last one have been translated into English. It's a pretty weird series, a Japanese series based on the more hardboiled American-style detective stuff. The first one had a minor controversy over how there's an unsolved rape in it, technically unconnected to the main story. It's matter of fact about it, like it's matter of fact about everything, the game just gives you information and it's up to you to decide who to arrest and what to do about it.
Reminds me of the Famicom Detective Club games made by the guy who later created Metroid: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famicom_Detective_Club

There is a Super Famicom remake that has been fan translated: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/850/

There is also a more recent switch remake that has been released worldwide.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
Patron
Joined
May 13, 2009
Messages
27,422
Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
The Roottrees are Dead is a game released two months ago that feels very similar to Obra Dinn, if only by virtue of how blatantly it apes the formula. Aside from falling somewhere between shameless ripoff and loving homage, it is also a free kinda buggy itch.io game, because AI art is banned on steam. If you can stomach all of that, you can probably have a decent afternoon working through this game.

The game is set in the 90s, when a plane crash kills the president of a major candy company and his three daughters. It falls to the player to recreate the family tree of the original owner of the company from him and his wife to all his direct descendants. you have access to 90s era search engines, a database for the local library, and a collection of periodicals. To complete an entry, you need the name, the occupation, and a picture, and entries are validated in threes. The dev even did that thing where every time you get three fates correct the game drops everything to do a little animation. It differs from Obra Dinn in that there seems to be nothing supernatural going on, and at the last bit you have to do entries in groups of four. I'm currently stuck at 41/50 fates and I feel content.
This one was fun, I recommend taking notes extensively because there's a lot of text you have to scour through and it's easy to forget something relevant in a page you looked at 30 mins ago after you went on a different rabbit hole. It's easy to get stuck because you missed a keyword at some point. I also found that some of the optionals are impossible to get without guessing, but I feel like they're mostly there to help misdirect a bit.

The ending will trigger certain individuals, and honestly it feels too on the nose, but at a certain point I forgot there was even a bigger mystery to all of this and I was just going through the motions, uncovering the tree and getting a bit of insight into this family dynamics.

I gave this a go. This taught me how easy it is to screw up the formula for these games.

There are 50 people to identify, but then there are plenty of non-blood related 'extras' you don't really need to identify, they're just there to clutter up the place.

The interface is DREADFUL when it comes to the computer. I saw a lengthy title of a book and typed it in 100% correctly. 'Not found.' Tried variations of it. 'Not found'. Eventually I copy-pasted the text over... and it worked! The slow loading pages didn't help either.

The going was good while I was still just trying to uncover the 5Pieces, but as the descendants piled on the work just got tedious to the point I gave up.

Honestly I cannot recommend this one. It tries hard and succeeds in many places, but it also fails in crucial ones needed to make this work.
 

Zombra

An iron rock in the river of blood and evil
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The Roottrees are Dead is a game released two months ago that feels very similar to Obra Dinn,
This one was fun
I gave this a go. This taught me how easy it is to screw up the formula for these games.
Yeah. I gave it an honest try for a few minutes but the interface is just so awful. Forcing you to watch the text crawl, long drawn out animations for absolutely everything, oh look at this screen element but wait 2 seconds for an arrow to grow pointing to it - the user experience is just garbage. Would have been interested to explore the design and story but this guy needs to team up with someone who can actually make a UI first.
 

Zombra

An iron rock in the river of blood and evil
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Make the Codex Great Again! RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In Codex Year of the Donut Codex+ Now Streaming! Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
It's basically a clone of The Case of the Golden Idol. Demo available.


Played demo. It shares some substantial mechanics with Golden Idol to be sure but I found it a very different experience. Aside from the obvious setting difference, the presentation is a linear story with lots of dialogue and waiting for voice acting to finish. I like the mc voice actor; this is not enough to make me like the writing, which is neither intriguing nor funny. Part of what made Golden Idol so captivating for me was its vagueness and nonlinear format, where you have to deduce what the entire story is even about from basically nothing. Here you are walked through step by step, though this may be partially a result of this first section being tutorial-y. The 2nd puzzle gives you two possible solutions, and you simply guess which one is correct - no deduction involved. Overall it felt like "Golden Idol for children". Nothing wrong with that I guess. I may play this depending on how starved I am for a detective experience when it comes out.
 

KafkaBot

Scholar
Joined
May 4, 2016
Messages
234


I enjoyed this one. Well-written and charming enough; has a certain Ace Attorney-esque vibe at times. It is too short and quite easy - in fact, in many ways, it feels like the opening level of a larger work. Given how cheap it is, though, I definitely feel like I got more than my money's worth, especially with the attention to detail on display.

This was the developer's first game, by the way. He's currently developing a sequel to this title, and if it manages to replicate the quality of this debut project on a larger scale, it could be quite great.
 

Maxie

Wholesome Chungus
Patron
Glory to Ukraine
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Messages
7,003
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Warszawa, PL


I enjoyed this one. Well-written and charming enough; has a certain Ace Attorney-esque vibe at times. It is too short and quite easy - in fact, in many ways, it feels like the opening level of a larger work. Given how cheap it is, though, I definitely feel like I got more than my money's worth, especially with the attention to detail on display.

This was the developer's first game, by the way. He's currently developing a sequel to this title, and if it manages to replicate the quality of this debut project on a larger scale, it could be quite great.

Sorry, I cannot find any info about him working on any sequel
 

KafkaBot

Scholar
Joined
May 4, 2016
Messages
234


I enjoyed this one. Well-written and charming enough; has a certain Ace Attorney-esque vibe at times. It is too short and quite easy - in fact, in many ways, it feels like the opening level of a larger work. Given how cheap it is, though, I definitely feel like I got more than my money's worth, especially with the attention to detail on display.

This was the developer's first game, by the way. He's currently developing a sequel to this title, and if it manages to replicate the quality of this debut project on a larger scale, it could be quite great.

Sorry, I cannot find any info about him working on any sequel

Dude's awful at marketing himself; the annoucement was made solely on his Discord.

He made the following post on July 13th of last year:
@everyone- I'll refrain from using the everyone ping from here on out. If you want to receive notifications for updates, both about the Secret of the Sorcerous Standoff and the project I'm about to tell you about, please use the
:star_seeker:
react in the ⁠bot-things channel to get the Update Notifications role.

If you were wondering "is there going to be more Star Seeker?", the answer is... yes! There is! Right now! The sequel- which I'm tentatively calling Justice/Arcana- is going to be bigger in scope than the bite-sized original, and it's tough to keep up the energy to work on that without player feedback. So, right now, I'm launching what I'm calling an analog alpha- a forum adventure-styled sorta-interactive Discord game where you all can play along by submitting suggestions! I'll be making revisions to the script and scenario by taking into account player feedback, and together we can polish this into something that'll go into the final product!

I do think this idea of his is a bit shit, honestly, but from what I can see his writing is still good. In fact, wouldn't be surprised if this was just a way of keeping his community engaged, but I'm avoiding reading the "analog alpha" channel because, with a game like this, that's essentially depriving yourself of the most important part of the experience.
 
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KafkaBot

Scholar
Joined
May 4, 2016
Messages
234

I enjoyed this one.

This is so good. Thank you KafkaBot! Everyone reading this thread should support the dev and enjoy this stylish 90 minute mystery.
My brief and not terribly informative Steam review

Glad to know you enjoyed it!

And yep, the guy is indeed talented and deserves all the support he gets. I just worry about the fact that he appears to be awful at marketing his own stuff; a game this charming should definitely be more well-known, but he seems to have done the bare minimum to get people to take a look at it. I myself found it almost by accident.

Your review mentions how he wrote unique dialogue for every interaction; he said on his Discord that he spent a year crafting those, which definitely made me appreciate this even more. No idea how long it will take him to finish the sequel, but it will definitely be a day 1 purchase for me if he puts the same level of care into it.
 

KafkaBot

Scholar
Joined
May 4, 2016
Messages
234
Lucifer Within Us doesn't get talked about much and really deserves better. Its whole design is so well constructed and the mechanics are really thoughtful and thorough (every single clue of any kind in each chapter (and there are a LOT of clues) can be indexed against any other clue; there are no generic "I can't use that here" type responses). If you are at all interested in mechanical design for investigation games you have to see this, and if you don't care about design but just like solving things it's impressive from that perspective too. Plus it's got a cool setting and story.
Gave this one a go. It is good, but also quite short. It has excellent mechanics and an interesting setting, but only 3 cases and less than 10 named characters. Would love to see a more fleshed sequel, but it sadly seems the studio has moved on from the genre.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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27,422
Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy


This one caught my eye because of the name: Grímsey is a very real island here in Iceland.

You are investigating a murder in 2075 off the coast of Grímsey Island, but using your futuristic technology you realize this murder has a history going back centuries.

I might give this one a go someday, just to see how accurate it is to the real-life location.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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27,422
Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
Alright, gave the above game a quick look.

It's been a while since I've played a game like this. Everything about it seems to be designed to push the player away.

The options-menu seems to allow me to customize my controls, but I could never get it to work, so I had to use the default WASD-based controls (yuck).

The biggest inspiration for this game seems to be the film 'Minority Report'. I'm standing in a holodeck with two persons watching from a side room. The two people have Icelandic names and speak with an Icelandic accent. So far, so good.

The game 'inserts' me into the scene, where I'm remote-controlling a drone which is on-site. My freedom of movement on-site is restricted by what appear to be the outlines of the holodeck. It's very weird to look at.

The UI is your typical "everything is in a clear, white font" which consoles seem to favor so much.

Checking my immediate surroundings, I am flying above an old lighthouse. It looks nothing like the actual lighthouse in Grímsey, nor do its surroundings match.

Looking at the horizon, I see land in a direction (no compass). While it seems to fit what people in Grímsey normally see of 'the mainland' of Iceland, there's also a visible volcanic eruption taking place in the middle of it. There are no (in)active volcanos in that part of Iceland, and it would take the Mother of All Seismic Activities for one to start there. I care not for any excuses of "there might be a volcano there 50 years from now" - palm trees are more likely to grow in Iceland than for brand-new volcanos to pop up.

As I move around, the tutorial constantly gets in my way - except it's not very good at being a tutorial. It's constantly telling me to do this and watch that, but somehow I can never get the context of what it's talking about. Game mechanics are given such obtuse names, I cannot understand what they are, or what they're supposed to do.

The final straw for me is the game's literal first puzzle - the doorway to the crime scene is blocked by debris, which I must move out of the way. To do this I must 'grab' each item and 'pull' it out of the way by turning to look where I want it to go. This does not feel intuitive.

After doing all this, I only have a vague idea of what I should be doing, but no idea of how I should be doing it. Either this game is badly designed, or my 38 years of gaming knowledge and experience have somehow atrophied into nothingness in record time.

I also hear that it's very short, four scenarios in total. Might be something to check out on a sale, but otherwise just leave it alone.
 

H. P. Lovecraft's Cat

SumDrunkCat
Joined
Feb 7, 2024
Messages
1,570
It's not an adventure game but The Sinking City has decent detective mechanics. It also doesn't use objective markers. You have to use written directions (streets, intersections, etc) to locate your objectives which is cool.
 

Zombra

An iron rock in the river of blood and evil
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Make the Codex Great Again! RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In Codex Year of the Donut Codex+ Now Streaming! Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
it's out.. anyway played the full game yet?
I haven't. Steam reviewers seem to be getting 2+ hours out of it and apparently the experience is consistent with my demo impressions: a simplified cartoon deduction game where sometimes the answers just have to be guessed. One person said the story has a good twist.
 

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