Murder Mystery Machine
Developed By: Blazing Griffin
Published By: Microids
Category: Adventure, Puzzle
Release Date: 8.25.21
I love a good detective story, but I’m not especially hooked on any of the big crime procedural dramas that populate network TV. Perhaps that is why Murder Mystery Machine for the Nintendo Switch left me feeling a little cold. When it comes to detective stories, I prefer more noir-influenced fare with a focus on characters and narrative over the intricate details of investigative procedure. MMM absolutely nails the latter, but it doesn’t really have enough of the former.
Murder Mystery Machine follows hotshot rookie detective Cassandra Clarke starting from her first day as part of the District Crime Agency. Her partner/supervisor, Nate Huston, is your typical jaded veteran crime scene investigator. Together they navigate their way through a series of mysteries that would make for an excellent season of the latest CSI spinoff. And that’s sort of it; the mysteries are fairly predictable and the character growth is shallow. There is some decent interplay between Cassandra and Nate that makes the proceedings a little more fun, but narrative-wise there isn’t a lot here that feels original or, even worse, engaging.
There are two main components to the gameplay; exploration and making connections. Players can explore numerous locations from an isometric perspective, looking for clues in the scenery or interrogating witnesses. Information gained this way is posted to the investigation board, where players can connect clues to certain suspects and their potential motives. Basically, you’re making one of those big boards with lots of red strings connecting things that every paranoid TV detective has. From this board you can assign the who, what, when, where, and why of every murder you’re investigating – or at least as many of those questions as the current scene can answer.
The concept of the gameplay is certainly interesting to start with, but it gets a little dull after a while. The more information you gather, the more cluttered and difficult-to-navigate the board becomes. Investigation boils down to little more than rotating the camera to determine if you’ve seen all the little white dots that denote a clue, and then connecting things on the board until you’ve unlocked more questions for your witnesses. It’s just a tad too simple compared to other investigative games. The graphics and music are solid, if unspectacular. Overall, Murder Mystery Machine has some interesting ideas but just not enough depth to remain satisfying for very long. If you like playing investigative games, L.A. Noire and Disco Elysium have much more engaging storylines, characters, and gameplay.
Buy Murder Mystery Machine
Digital – $19.99
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The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.