Critical Play: Mysteries — Virginia

Open photoOne interesting choice they made was to use jump cuts throughout the narrative. It is mostly effective in skipping through the repetitive scenes and giving us the key changes in scenery and activity however there are moments that left me, the player, feeling confused and left to fill in the blanks of what led them to the new place that they are at. Sometimes I could be looking around at the scenery and all of a sudden I’m dropped into a new scene and left feeling shocked and slightly confused. I thought it was clever in that it mimicked the process a detective might go through in piecing together the events that took place during an investigation. On top of that, we don’t hear any of the dialogue—another interesting mechanic. Though the story is told more like a movie than a game, the lack of dialogue adds another layer of mystery. I don’t feel the normal warmth or character from the people I interact with and I feel it distances me from them. However, I can tell how I am feeling generally through the emotion of the music. This leaves me with general distrust of everyone around me, which I think is definitely a plus for contributing to the mystery. 

One mechanic I noticed that seemed normally in conflict with mystery games is that the game doesn’t really allow you to explore—it is more akin to visual novels. In this way, this game is unlike any other mystery games I’ve played—most notably the Nancy Drew games. It isn’t necessarily a puzzle game (at least not yet in the first 20 minutes). However, this doesn’t take away from the feeling of mystery in the game and I think that can be contributed to the mechanics I listed above.

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