The game leans more on the realistic side of game design, as opposed to other titles by the developer, and this shows on the themes and art style. While the science being used is made up, many of the concepts are not, and the way you solve most puzzles is by actual ingenuity rather than using mystical pieces. This makes the color palette more subdued, while still using plenty of variety. The different settings look like places one might actually go and visit, if one were a police woman of course.
The character design is really well made. All characters are fully voice acted, and they even have lip sync to go with each line. While the rest of the character is not really animated, there is enough suggestion to suspend one’s disbelief and get immersed in the story.
A small but clever detail is how characters do not simply slide things into your inventory, they actually hand them to you and you have to click on them to get it. And the visual presentation is incredible, each character being very detailed in their clothing and personality, making it easy to understand the role each plays in the story.
In terms of story, the game starts with three people in a yacht having a toast. As they celebrate their get together, a huge and ominous storm approaches. We then cut to black, and the next scene is of our protagonist at her home, enjoying her day off. She’s an accomplished detective, and as is expected her day off is interrupted by an urgent phone call from her partner. He was investigating two cases that might be connected, and now needs your aid in order to put the pieces together.
The detective reluctantly agrees to help, and a driver is sent to take her to the city’s shores, since that was where the body was found. This is where the game begins proper, as you will have to use every tool at your disposal to uncover the truth.
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Gameplay wise, the game is divided into different maps, and each one has plenty of objects to collect, and plenty more that need to be unlocked. You do this by getting the right object for the job, or solving a puzzle to get it. Sometimes you have to do both. You keep trying to match the object with the interactable area until you unlock a new section. Some objects can be combined with others, while other objects need a set amount before they can be used.
The puzzles you need to solve are very varied and challenging, and if you get too stuck you can wait for the “skip” button to charge so you can move on with the story. How fast said button takes to charge depends on the difficulty setting chosen at the beginning of the game, which is also the case for the “hint” button that tells you where to go next in general gameplay.
The only recurring puzzle is the list game, where you are given a list of items to find in a very cluttered scene. You just need to click the item listed on the list, yet some of them might require more interactions, like opening a drawer. If you get stuck here, you can choose to use the previously mentioned “hint” button, or opt out from the “list” gameplay altogether and play an image matching minigame instead. Whatever you choose, your reward is a single item to use elsewhere.
A gameplay feature that goes hand in hand with the detective theme is the case files. As you find items to use in the world, you also find clues, and these are used to figure out who the victim is, who’s the witness and of course, who’s the murderer.
Family Mysteries: Poisonous Promises is a fun and intriguing thriller that will hook you with its story and innovative puzzles. The very well realized character designs and voice acting will have you unable to drop the game until the very end, just like any good tale should.
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