I’ve just been playing The Inquisitor – one of the games which came out of the procedural generation game jam, ProcJam. It’s a murder mystery game where you chat to suspects, collect evidence and generally try to work out what the Dickens went on.
There are several helpful bits of information the game gives you – the person standing near the body isn’t going to be the killer, it takes 5 minutes to travel between rooms, the murderer will never reveal they were in the murder room – that sort of thing. You can use that information to try to place people at the crime scene during the window of time where the murder took place.
I wonder if we can call this sub-genre police procedural generation?
As per developer Malcolm Brown:
It’s pretty difficult and obtuse, so I recommend taking notes as you play to keep track of where all the rooms are, and what the characters say when they dictate their alibis & suspicions. Difficulty of the murder varies wildly depending on what the murderer does – Sometimes they drop all the evidence right in front of you, other times it can get cleaned, picked up by other people and shuffled around. If all else fails, take notes! And read the hints on the title screen!
I have tried twice and failed twice, although I was closer the second time.
In the first, a chap called Ulric had been bludgeoned to a fine pulp in the Warm Hall and thus I cleverly deduced that the murderer had used the mace which had been concealed in the nearby Breezy Bedroom. The fact it turned out to have been done with a sword was a bit of an annoyance, then.
Quentin was the murderer, I concluded. After all, he’d been in the Breezy Bedroom at about the right time to get rid of a weapon and he’d previously been in the Moon Cellar where I guess he could have acquired such a thing in the first place. (It was Phillip, whose pride had gotten the better of him.)
The second time around I got the weapon right – a pistol, as evidenced by the pistol shot to the victim’s face – but picked the wrong member of a love triangle and gave slightly wrong reasoning based on that deduction.
It’s a smart game, and drawing little maps and taking notes was fun but I should warn you that the behaviour of the other guests and some of the wording have made it incredibly difficult to work out the murderer in my playthroughs.
Obviously, I refuse to be beaten by a murder mystery, though so I will don my sleuthing coat and return for just one more thing…