Capsule Review: Detective Grimoire

A short and forgiving detective game that could serve well as an introduction to the genre.

(A note on titles - this is technically the second game called Detective Grimoire, as it follows a Flash game with the same name. For clarity, this second game is sometimes given given a subtitle and called Detective Grimoire: Secret of the Swamp.)

A short mystery game that has you investigating clues and interviewing suspects in a remote swamp to solve a murder. Its small scale, low complexity, and forgiving mechanics make it a solid intro to detective games.

Gameplay consists mainly of visiting the various locations of the swamp, clicking on objects in the environment to inspect them for clues, and clicking on people present in each location to talk to them. Anything significant you find or learn is tracked automatically in a detailed case file. Finding clues in the environment sometimes requires a small minigame such as picking a lock or moving objects out of the way to find what you’re looking for - these almost always feel pointless and tacked-on, but at least they’re generally quite easy and not likely to block you.

Suspect interviews have simple dialog trees, though some options won’t be available until you learn the relevant information, and you can also ask each suspect about each person and clue in your case file. At set points in your investigation, you’ll also be prompted to form logical conclusions by combining ideas from a limited pool of people, objects, and verb phrases - in theory this represents the deductive reasoning you perform after gathering information, but in practice it’s not hard to figure out what conclusion is required based just on the ideas that are present and there’s never a need to refer back to your case file.

The game is quite forgiving and not interested in throwing up barriers to your progress. It doesn’t seem to have a failure state. The structure does require some back-tracking as you need to return to previous suspects to ask them about new information, but fast travel makes this painless. Many clues and suspect interview topics are optional. While there’s enough information to piece together a timeline of exactly how the murder was committed, you aren’t quizzed on the details the way you are in a Danganronpa or Ace Attorney game. The mystery itself also isn’t terribly complicated and I don’t think I was surprised by a single reveal (though there are a couple of annoying callbacks to the Flash game that make no sense if you haven’t played it as well as a couple of tantalizing clues that receive no explanation and are apparently sequel hooks).

While there isn’t much puzzling or deduction required, there’s also not much unnecessary friction or busywork (aside from the handful of clue-investigating minigames). The game is short enough to avoid wearing out its welcome and I had a good time inhabiting its world, meeting its colorful cast, and solving the mystery.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game in a bit under two hours. I had most of the clues and about half of the achievements and felt no need to go back for the rest.

Docprof's Rating:

Three Stars: Good. I liked the game enough to finish it (or just play it a bunch, for games that don't end). I recommend it to most genre fans.

You can get it or learn more here.