Murder Mystery Machine | PS4 Review
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
There are seldom things I like more than a good detective game, so I was very much looking forward to playing Murder Mystery Machine, developed by Blazing Griffin and published by Microids and is available to play on Windows PC, PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo Switch. You have made Junior Detective for the District Crime Agency (DCA) and your job is to investigate cases alongside a somewhat disgruntled and distrusting colleague. For the purposes of my review, I was playing on the PlayStation 4, after its recent release on the 25th August 2021.
Upon first glance, this game sets itself up like a detective show and has starting credits leading into a new episode with each case, which there are eight in total. I got an immediate Sims-like feel to the game which got me excited. The characters move in a similar way to a Sim and the rooms are presented in a cut-off manner, so the surroundings cannot be seen. You play as the main character, Cassandra Clarke, who has been assigned to the DCA by Captain Merrick after showing promise and graduating from the academy. I will not get into too much detail as it may become spoilery, but her colleague, Nathaniel Huston or Nate, is not a big fan of his new partner assignment. Things are a bit heated between the two as you begin to investigate the death of a local politician, Frank Daniels. There is an opportunity to play briefly as Nate later in the game. When you begin, you will realise the purpose of the Murder Mystery Machine. In your office, which is set in a basement, you can access the MMM to open up cases to investigate. Once you have completed the game, you can replay cases in the MMM in order to reach achievements - each scene is graded per case with A+ being the best mark. I was achieving Bs across the board. The reason for this will be explained later.
The controls of the game are very easy to understand in terms of zooming in and out, rotating the room, and interacting with people and objects. The controls can feel a little clunky, especially with the interaction, as you will need to place yourself in the correct position in order to interact with an object or a person. This would be where a cursor would be more ideal, as I found that, especially when investigating the cars, I was struggling to interact with the correct item, without hitting the previous item doing so. It also took a bit of getting used to the menu which you can toggle between during your investigation. All the information you collect at the crime scene, either through items found or dialogue with other characters, collate in this menu. This is where you are required to make connections and submit your findings to solve an objective. The menu allows you to move pieces of evidence displayed around your board so that you can get the pieces of evidence linked to each other more organised. This does take a while to get used to. I had avoided this at the beginning - however the more evidence you found, the smaller the writing on the screen in the menu becomes, and although you can zoom in, you are unable to move the screen when making connections, which was quite disappointing. Any connections made by you will be marked with a red connecting line. Connections automatically made display a white line.
Establishing connections between the evidence in your menu will lead to dialogue opening up with characters or new items to be found. This was the section with which I felt the most frustrated. While I was able to ascertain early on the means, motive and opportunity of some cases, unless you connect the correct piece of evidence with another piece, the dialogue will not unlock and you cannot progress much further. This lead me to use the hint button on a few occasions, and I felt a bit frustrated as I may have linked a sub section of a person to another piece of evidence, but as I did not link the person directly, the dialogue did not open up. The more hints you use, the lower the grade you receive, so I kept achieving Bs. I felt myself losing some interest at this point, as I knew exactly what was going on, but could not establish the correct connections expected from the game itself.
There are numerous pluses to this game. Visually it looks amazing for the most part - I did manage to come across a visual bug in the basement where I was spinning around on a chair in which Cassandra can sit, but that is minor and made me giggle. You can unlock objects in the office which are interactable such as coffee or pizza. In some cases some of the items can help unlock some outfits for Cassandra. The more cases you solve, the more decorated your walls become with evidence from open and closed cases, which is a nice touch. The storylines of each of the cases are quite interesting and will keep you engaged, so anyone who loves wearing their detective cap will enjoy this game.
If there were a few areas of improvement I would suggest it would be that the lack of voice acting takes away from the game somewhat. The scenes are very quiet and there is a lot of dialogue to read through, so some voice acting - even gibberish - would help through the scenes a bit. With the lack of voice acting comes more attention to detail when reading the text, and unfortunately I came across a few spelling errors - the ones that come to mind are posession (possession), thte (the), Justin spelt with a small "j", and the name of one of the characters, John Reilly, which at one point was spelt John Riley.
Murder Mystery Machine is a fun, interesting whodunnit, which is chock full of content to keep you engaged. While there are areas which could do with improvement, I would recommend fans of detective games and TV shows alike to invest in this and add it to their collection. I was not blown away by this game but it is a solid attempt not to be ignored. So make sure you grab your David Caruso sunglasses and think up a cheesy line to say before the credits roll. *Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaooooooooouuuuuuuuuuhhhhhh*.
Tina's Rating: 3.5 pizza slices out of 5.
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Many thanks to Microids for the Review Key.