Classic style adventure games are unfortunately kind of a dead genre, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t gone altogether. The rise of indie games have breathed life into a lot of genres that wouldn’t fly in the mainstream market anymore and the classic adventure game is a perfect example of this. With this in mind we are looking at Case and Bot: Murder in the Hotel Lisbon brought to us by Nerd Monkeys based out of Portugal.
As soon as you boot this thing up you can see the retro feel this game has gone for. Everything has a hand drawn look to it but at the same time it all looks very crude, but not in a bad way. What I mean by that is that if you grew up with some of these games you will instantly feel at home with the old school retro look this game has gone for.
A lot of indie games are criticized for overusing the retro look but it’s kind of necessary in a game like this. It’s not only the graphics, but the entire game feels retro. It was a theme here and not a statement.
Right off the bat the curtains open and you are thrown right into the story. Your first instinct will be to click around to see what you can interact with and they give you quite a bit to play around with in the first area to introduce you to what you can do.
Most things will offer you the ability to look at them and interact with them accompanied by the appropriate eye and hand logo. You move around on a 2D plane and as soon as you step out of your office you will notice things are quite lively.
Cars race by on the foreground and you will notice all kinds of people that you can interact with on the street. You have the neighborhood bum, the shoeshine guy, an alleyway of thugs, animals, and even a prostitute. When you enter a bar or restaurant you will see live bands performing on stage with the appropriate music accompanying the scene. They really nailed the atmosphere except for one little thing.
The cars in the foreground look really nice, but sometimes they block on screen text, it’s a minor thing since you can just wait for the car to pass to read the text but it’s still a slight annoyance. Overall though, everything looks and sounds great, and I really can’t say enough about the music.
Smooth Jazz in the bar, folk music in the restaurant complete with a song with live vocals if you talk to the singer really set the tone. The basic background music is also interesting and dynamic and will increase in tempo when things are happening. The perfect example is the interrogations where the music will get faster and faster the closer you come to cracking your suspect.
As for those interrogations, you are introduced to them very early on. On the surface they were my favorite part of the game, but there is one major problem with how they are handled that I will get into a bit later. How it works is that you have a series of questions and statements you can make to the witness and you pair that question up with evidence you find during your adventure.
The evidence makes it so the witness can’t deny your allegations anymore and has to give you the information you are demanding from them. The whole thing is really fun as you will visibly notice your suspect doing things like ripping out their hair and dripping in sweat the closer you get to cracking them.
The music I mentioned before also increases how fun these scenes are as it just keeps getting faster and faster.
The problem with the interrogations however is that there is no penalty for failing them. I noted in my preview that I hoped this wasn’t in the final version. However, you can basically just keep spamming items and questions even if you have no idea what you are doing.
When you fail an interrogation you can just restart immediately. I know the game was designed to be a casual humor game, but this really takes a lot of the fun out of really piecing together your evidence and building a case against the suspect.
You can interview with both Detective Case or Clown Bot and in the old good cop/bad cop strategy Case is more crude and aggressive while Clown Bot is more calm and logical. Certain witnesses respond better to different strategies and again, this would be a very strategic decision in the game if there was a penalty for failing.
However, if you fail with Detective Case, just go right over to Clown Bot and question with him. They had a lot of really cool things going with this system but I can’t stress enough how much the lack of a failure penalty takes away from the entire thing.
All of these things play into the main goal of the game which is to solve the murder in the hotel lisbon. Now, seeing as this game is an adventure game and is basically entirely dependent upon it’s story and dialogue to deliver enjoyment, I really don’t want to get into it much during this review in fear of spoiling something but I will say that this game really nails the comic theme it was going for.
The characters all look completely ridiculous and do equally ridiculous things. Clown Bot basically talks in nothing but corny jokes and Detective Case’s straight man routine plays off of it perfectly. The game has running gags throughout like Case not being able to remember people’s names, the Bell Boy at the hotel saying Sir after everything and more.
One of the more atmospheric things this game has going for it is that the entire thing is playing out on a stage. Curtains draw between acts and the crowd will react to the jokes told throughout the story. They tend to really enjoy the corny jokes that Clown Bot tells and they will pop up from time to time throughout the story with applause or jeers. They really aren’t afraid to voice their opinion, even if it is misguided.
I really did like the majority of the game though, and they even threw some side quests in there in which the various characters in the game will at times offer side quests for you to accomplish. These are totally optional but will introduce you to interesting new characters and give you a lot more humorous dialogue to read which is the entire point of this game.
When you approach characters you will have the option of asking them about the main quest or the side quest. If you get lost on a side quest however, bot will only offer you advice on the main quest.
In the end it’s really hard to set a score for a game that is totally dependent on it’s story and dialogue for enjoyment. I will say this however. The game runs at a very quick pace, you will never spend hours looking for an obscure item and the lack of penalties for failing interrogations means you won’t have to consult a faq to find the solution.
So while I didn’t enjoy some of the intricacies that make this game easier and quicker, if you are in it for the humor, you will probably enjoy it a lot since the atmosphere and humor are on point. It’s certainly not the deepest or most involved adventure game, but it’s a quick fun romp that you won’t regret if you are looking for a genuinely funny videogame.
Detective Case and Clownbot: Murder in the Hotel Lisbon was reviewed using a code provided by Nerd Monkeys. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.