๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️๐Ÿ”Ž Murder Mystery Machine | Xbox Series X | Review | 5/10 "A disappointing experience that had the potential for so much more" ๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️๐Ÿ”Ž @BlazingGGames #IndieGames #GameDev

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When I saw the trailer for this game, I thought, “wow this looks up my street! An isometric murder mystery where you solve the cases by linking evidence on a diorama board, having to piece together means, motives and opportunity… this sounds amazing!”

It is not. The biggest selling point for the game is the diorama portion, at first, it feels exciting linking everything together piece by piece and painting this elaborate picture, cutting through all the lies and misdirection, finally untangling the web and nailing the case. The problem lies within you having to do a diorama every single chapter, of which there are at least four in every episode, with eight of these in total.

Oh boy, does it lose its lustre quickly.  If they had kept it to just the last chapter in each episode, it would have been great, but it's just too much when used in every chapter.

The other problem is that the linking is finicky and at times confusing. In one mission it gave me a character and his traits that were linked together, but when I then asked for a hint as I was stuck, it made me link them again… even though they were already linked in the first place.

The game - thank god - gives you hints which let you know what to connect next, which is good because, by the end of my time with the game, I just wanted to know what happens and get through as quickly as possible.

The character models were ok, they were serviceable enough, but when it came to facial animation the problems were glaring. With no voice acting, the facial expressions have to convey the emotion, after telling someone their grandmother has been strangled in a bingo hall, I don’t expect the person to gawk at me while occasionally moving their lips, looking like a goldfish trying to eat peanut butter but yet - that’s all these character models do, it's just off-putting.

I get budget constraints but without any differing facial expressions everything felt flat, no one felt like they had any emotion as their face conveyed nothing, so I never felt invested in any of the characters.

Dialogue is poor, there were some bits of dialogue that were ok but for the most part, everything felt bland and mediocre, all the characters were just stereotypes and have been done to death, nothing was original - it was every typical crime fiction stereotype you can imagine.

I was waiting for a case that was new and exciting or a great twist on the typical formulas, but nope - it was just the same stories you can find in any other piece of crime media. If even an ounce of creativity went into the story aspect, it could have elevated to at least be something other than mediocre, but it looks like they watched all fifteen series of CSI then picked the eight most generic plots. 

Now you must be thinking, ‘none of this review is positive, why a five?’ Well, the isometric part of this game is great, the way the walls disappear and reappear when you turn the camera are fantastic and seamless, the lighting in this game is amazing - I don’t think I've ever talked about lighting in video games but the way the rooms are lit in this game always seemed to match the mood and grabbed my attention right away -  I was more excited to see how the next area looked rather than how the story unfolded.

The different areas capture the feel and atmosphere perfectly, the seedy hotel rooms are dark and depressing, the basement you operate out of feels claustrophobic and cluttered, it reflects the mental state of your burnt-out cop partner perfectly. 

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