Detective mystery mixed with action-adventure can produce some captivating masterpieces of gaming. They often add an interesting dash of puzzle-solving to break-up what could possibly be a linear stream of running and fighting. This genre really appeals to me and all the games of it I’ve played have been memorable experiences and always leave me desperate for more. Most recently, I played through the 2012 ‘The Testament of Sherlock Holmes’ and it made me think about how fun detective games actually are, and how there have been so few of them produced in recent years. I think it’s time they made a comeback, given some of the masterpieces the genre has produced.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
This would definitely scratch the detective itch for anyone who felt their game library was sorely needing it. Highly rated by myself, and game critics alike, this Victorian Era adventure throws you into the shoes of Conan Doyle’s infamous detective Sherlock Holmes. Partnered with military doctor John Watson, you only play as Sherlock for the first few hours but eventually, you get to points in the game where you have to play as Dr. Watson. There’s even a mission that lets you play as Toby, the keen-nosed Sleuth Hound!
The game, in general, is a very good example of what this genre can be. The crime scenes were fun to inspect, the puzzles were challenging yet rewarding, and the story definitely kept me hooked with surprising twists. My one issue was that the game forces you to find every single piece of evidence before you can progress with the story, forcing you to spend a long time scouring every inch of every room before you can continue. As much as it makes sense, I found myself reminiscing LA Noire’s system where you could completely miss pieces of evidence, which would make the rest of the case harder – but still possible.
This brings me round nicely to my next example, and possibly the most famous game of the genre, ‘LA Noire’. This was an unbelievable, standout game that took the gaming community by storm. It’s no wonder that this was so popular with people of all ages and of different game interests. It had the open-world feel of a Grand Theft Auto game, but you were on the other side of the law for a change. Starting out as Officer Cole Phelps and solving cases to work your way up to a high-ranking detective feels like a real rewarding progression system. Although, the number of murders that apparently were happening makes you wonder why anyone would choose to live there.
Everything about this game was amazing. I couldn’t pick any faults with the game if I tried. The cases got progressively more challenging and longer, the action was fun and had the fluidity of a GTA gunfight, and the story was a real joy to play through. Analyzing crime scenes really felt like you were there and looking for clues, some clues requiring a little more searching, and sometimes even further analysis than simply picking them up. Quite often, clues required you to go to somewhere else such as a gun shop or a bar, and investigate that area, real police work. One of the most interesting, and for me enjoyable, features of the game, was the interrogation system. In my opinion, LA Noire was everything a detective game should be, and we’re sorely in need of a sequel!
This is seen as one of the standout games from the ps3 era. A classic of the console. It doesn’t take much playing to figure out why. This is a truly unique and twisted story, the likes of which I’ve never even come close to experiencing in any other game. Starting out as what might seem like a more light-hearted adventure, quickly takes a complete turn and evolves into what I’d call one of, if not the darkest, psychological thrillers in the gaming industry. Every single action you take could potentially have deep, harsh consequences either immediately or later in the game, you really have to think about everything you do. Depending on your choices (and whether you successfully manage the numerous quick-time events) could lead to all 4 characters being alive at the end of the game, or even all 4 dying early in the game
It’s completely unlike the other games in this piece. Where the others are more adventure games, progressing through the world separated by missions, Heavy Rain is more akin to an interactive movie. The game splits it’s time between 4 characters, all following seemingly different storylines, which are eventually revealed to be intertwined. The way this game plays and the way the plot unfolds is an experience every gamer should play through at least once. There are some people who even refer to this game as more of an art, than a normal video game. The popularity of this style of game is why it got multiple spiritual successors in ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ and ‘Detroit: Become Human’. I would definitely fully support more games of this style being released. Interactive dramas are an interesting idea, which I personally feel hasn’t been delved into enough.
The genre as a whole will always be one that interests me and keeps me coming back. It takes the already enjoyable action-adventure genre, then gives it unique twists and interesting storylines. From solving small-time, back-alley murders to solving plots of world-domination, the possibilities of the detective-adventure genre truly are endless. We definitely need more of these games in our lives, there simply aren’t enough to scratch my murder mystery itch.