Investigating Mahjongg Investigations: Under Suspicion

I have been easing myself into the week by investigating crimes through the medium of mahjong in Mahjongg Investigations: Under Suspicion [Steam page]. On Steam it’s dated as a 2007 release but we only wrote about it as part of a Steam sale post yonks ago SO!

The actual gameplay is not in any way, shape or form taxing, but I do like the mishmash of genres and the way the devs have linked tile matching to interrogation. It’s a casual game so I’ve been playing it while streaming episodes of The Good Wife (because why not double up on crime chit chat?). You play as a cop who sits at crime scenes and related locations solving mahjong puzzles because videogames. Mahjong puzzles are the ones where you pair up matching tiles from the edges of the board and gradually work your way inwards, clearing the board of these pairs as you go.

In this game if you connect two fingerprint tiles you get a bit of information about the crime scene – maybe the blood type of the perpetrator or maybe strand of hair or their gender or their physical build. If you connect magnifying glass tiles you get corresponding information about potential suspects. Case file tiles give alibi information and later on you also get tiles that give forensic info and reveal extra perpetrators. If you’re having trouble with the arrangement of the tiles you can also use your evidence bag to stash up to five of them away, giving you a bit more wiggle room when it comes to making hidden tiles available.

You can bring up the clues and suspect lists at any point if you want to try to solve the case without visiting all the locations or finishing all of the mahjong boards. I suspect that’s more for if you’re struggling or fancy giving yourself more of a challenge because there’s a time component. As you play mahjong a timer ticks down and so if you find yourself running out of time you can try to deduce the ne’er-do-well’s identity early on. Word to the wise: you have 25 minutes so given the puzzles aren’t hard you will never run out of time unless you, like, wander off and make dinner and then go out or whatever.

If you’re still dithering between suspects at the end of the location boards – I’ve encountered a couple where I hemmed myself into an impossible-to-complete situation – you could also try interrogating suspects. Interrogation doesn’t mean asking questions in this case, it means using the mahjong tiles to play a memory pairs game after which you get more clues or, sometimes, the suspect breaks down in tears and confesses to the crime. I like to think of this as an actual maverick cop sitting in the interrogation suite, studiously ignoring the suspect and just playing tile games until the perp cracks and confesses everything. There’s also a car chase minigame involving matching tiles but I haven’t quite figured that one out yet.

“She’s a tile-game weirdo, but my god she gets results,” they say as I leave the precinct and head towards another crime scene.

Another thing I like is that these criminals are actual idiots. There’s no complex deduction needed because they’re desperate to get caught. They leave romance novels and knitting needles and model glue and country music CDs at crime scenes and then tell the police about these exact hobbies of theirs. “I definitely didn’t steal that money, but I do really like rap music and calligraphy,” they apparently state. I picture my police officer staring at the country music CD on my imaginary desk and sigh. At least we live in a land where no-one can lie about their hobbies and interests. It must make the personals sections of newspapers far easier to navigate when everyone is so honest about what they’re into. Except crimes. I have discovered a flaw in this dating system so never mind.

ANYWAY. I’ve risen through the ranks and am now a deputy inspector. An increasingly bored deputy inspector who has just found a different mahjong game with boards in the shape of elephants. I’m tempted to buy that one for this evening’s entertainment but I don’t think you get to solve elephant crimes so, really, WHAT’S THE POINT?

I’m going to see if Alice will change my bio on the site to read “deputy inspector”.

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  1. Ginger Yellow says:

    Objection! That tile doesn’t match.

  2. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Do you have a warrant for that 3 of Bamboo?

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    phuzz says:

    I suppose I should stop being grumpy that to most people “mahjong” means this kind of matching game, rather than the Chinese game that the tiles are taken from.
    That said I rather enjoy these matching games.

  4. zentarul says:

    I wish people would stop associating Mahjong with this kind of “matching” game. It has as much to do with Mahjong than 52 pick-up is a playing cards game. I have nothing against matching games, but associating it with Mahjong is, in my opinion, racist and heresy!

    • Otterley says:

      I haven’t heard anyone say “52-card pickup” in ages. I thought everyone says “Bridge” nowadays.

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      heretic says:

      I wish they’d make a good mahjong game, the only game I know of is 4 winds mahjong.

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        The PC Engine (Turbo Grafx) had quite a few if I’m not mistaken, you could try emulating those.

  5. BluePencil says:

    I feel this review lacks comment on whether the game is worth buying. It’s very good at explaining what the game involves but should it be bought?