Detectiveland

Author: Robin Johnson
Year: 2016
Development System: Versificator 2
Cruelty Rating: Polite
Length Of Play: 2-3 hours

My Rating: 7

Awards: 1st Place — 22nd Annual IF Competition

I’ve always been a sucker for hardboiled detective stories, especially when they are self-aware. Detectiveland is a straight send up of the genre written in a Twine-like parser that only requires navigation of hyperlinks (including an extensive inventory). Everything is here: the embittered detective, sleazy law enforcement, speakeasies, powerful dames, and cheesy dialogue. The graphics and music also fit the mood, though I turned off the music after a while due to its repetition. The fourth wall is frequently broken and I smirked a good dozen times while playing. I also appreciate that the narrator has more modern sensibilities when it comes to feminism and race issues.

The puzzles are not bad considering the format; even though it’s easy, one can’t just mindlessly click through the game. I especially enjoyed the one in the Italian restaurant. And while the game can’t be made unwinnable, what most would consider to be the best ending (out of three) does require extra foresight and can be put out of reach if you’re careless.

I wanted to like this even more than I did. Every aspect is above-average and well-polished. While it was neither funny enough nor dramatic enough to be among my favorites, I would recommend it to anyone who likes the genre.

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