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Murder By Numbers is Phoenix Wright in leg-warmers from the designer of Hatoful Boyfriend

Your boss has been murdered. But he did just fire you, so maybe he had it coming? Unfortunately, that kinda mess puts you in the prime suspect spotlight, and it’s time to clear your name. All sounds rather dark, doesn’t it? But Murder By Numbers has no time for all that doom and gloom. Mediatonic’s next game is a puzzling pop-styled detective novel with some fabulous 90s flair and seriously impressive genre credentials.

Not to rag on an entire genre, but I’ve been over “novelty” visual novels since they started popping up. Yes, Hatoful Boyfriend was oh-quite-hilarious in its heyday, but we’re still living with the finger-lickin’ consequences of “wacky” dating simulators.

It’s nice, then, that this looks like a real solid little investigate ’em up. We don’t get many Phoenix Wrights over here in PC-land, making Murder By Numbers’ blends of puzzling, sleuthing and schmoozing your way across a cast of garishly 90s-tinted characters a pleasant rarity. Doubling down on the comparison, Ace Attorney composer Masakazu Sugimori is on board to soundtrack your investigations with some cheesy sitcom bops.

As the face of a beloved TV detective, you’ll have to team up with a floating telly to clear your name and solve a string of murders across the studio lot. I, too, remember the episode of Columbo where he solved the murder of a wealthy sailor by performing increasingly-elaborate Picross puzzles.

There are tons of these colourful characters to interact with, too, designed by Hatoful Boyfriend creator Hato Moa. It is much easier to get a sense of someone’s artistic talents when you’re not looking at bird jpegs for a game’s runtime, at least. Yes, there were drawn human interpretations of every character. Yes, you were flatly playing the game wrong if you used them.

Murder By Numbers is slated to launch on Steam in early 2020. If you’re in the neighbourhood, our own Katherine will be chatting to the creators at EGX. I won’t be, Scotland and all.

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Natalie Clayton

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Writes news when everyone else is asleep, sometimes

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