A good sleuth has a recognisable face. A great one has dozens according to The Shapeshifting Detective, an FMV murder mystery game released yesterday by D’Avekki Studio. A young woman has been murdered, and there are few faster ways to get to the truth than to be all of the suspects at the same time. As the title suggests, the player has the ability to supernaturally disguise themselves as any of the cast, opening up new dialogue options and clues. Handy, as anyone could be the killer – literally, as it’s randomly chosen each time. The launch trailer inconspicuously sits below.
From the looks of it, The Shapeshifting Detective is set in a world where shapeshifters (and other strange things) are a semi-regular thing. If you screw up and imitate the wrong person at the wrong time, you can end up raising suspicions or just blowing your cover. A higher stakes approach than other recent adventures, but it reminds me of the better parts of Westwood’s mostly-forgotten 1997 Blade Runner game. That too had random plot threads and high stakes decisions, adding rare replay value to a genre not known for it.
Interactions in The Shapeshifting Detective are purely multiple-choice dialogues, although there’s a few Bluff or Lie options scattered in amongst the most regular questioning. No poking around in rooms for clues, just pumping the suspects for info and trying to catch them in a contradiction, and your shapeshifting allows you to do some clever things within this framework. Interestingly, there’s also the option to delete potentially hazardous lines of dialogue entirely from your options – quality of life feature? Perhaps there’s a reason why you’d want to put things out of your mind.
The Shapeshifting Detective is out now on Steam and Humble for £7.99/€8.79/$10.39 and published by Wales Interactive. I’m just happy to see a decent-looking FMV game launching so soon after the (glorious) trainwreck that was The Quiet Man.