Ep. 08 - The Sexy Brutale
Masks, Murder, Mystery, Intrigue, Fantasy, Time Manipulation! Those are the tags I would put on The Sexy Brutale. They would hardly describe how unique and different this detective game with quite some twists plays, in comparison to, well…, everything else I have played in my entire life so far. The tags would not do the game justice at all. It is a unique kind of game. Maybe even its own genre. It does much more than a simple point and click adventure. It is not a visual novel either nor is it a walking simulator. It is a very fabulous, impressive, mind bending genre mix with an amazing soundtrack, challenging puzzles and a unique mix of gameplay elements that come together in a most impressive fashion.
You experience the games story as one ‘Lafcadio Boone’, a guest at the ‘Casino Mansion’ of ‘The Marquis’. The annual masked ball being held at the mansion will be the floor and the stage for our drama. Our host, the elusive ‘Marquis’ offers his exclusive guests an event to satisfy their every desire. This time, though, things have gone horribly wrong. The guests, plural, are being murdered by the staff. It is not as simple as that though. It is a Masked Ball and the staff are apparently controlled by their masks, or so someone claims. Someone, who also claims to have saved you from…you are really not sure what from exactly. That someone is a rather mysterious stranger, who seemingly wants to help you and the guests. Alright, but their motives stay in the shadows for now. Now, the only way to find out what is going on in this madness of a masked ball, is exploring the mansion, room by room, hallway by hallway. And while you explore you also want to start saving the guests and yourself from whatever danger is lurking in the many rooms of this madhouse.
In the beginning of the game, you are given a means to manipulate time in a certain fashion, at first you are limited to resetting it back to a fixed point. This opens up enough time for you to explore the mansion, investigate events, people and places. You do this by sneaking about, listening to events in the next room, spying through keyholes into shadowy hallways and carefully avoiding being spotted by one of the mansions staff. While being the bestest sneakiest detective person possible, you find items, encounter guests and staff, find riddles and clues. Your ultimate goal: The solving of the mansions mysteries as well as the saving of all guests, including yourself.
Sexy Brutale is being played from a top down perspective, seeing one room at a time. And I have to admit that the peculiar graphics style and setting were something that took a bit of time getting used to. While you explore the mansion, you build a map that depicts all the rooms you have discovered. The map comes with a ‘time scrubber’ that allows you to move forward and backward through time, seeing characters movements, after you have discovered them of course, displayed on the map. This is a large help, especially later when things become more complicated.
A tiny bit of inventory management with few items is necessary, but easily done. A journal with characters encountered and items found so far helps keeping track of everything. A fair savegame systems allows for short or long sessions without having to give up progress. It felt like the game was developed with a controller in mind, but plays well on mouse and keyboard. Graphics are nicely done and fit the game very well while not being too demanding even for older, less powerful setups. The games soundscape is not only sideshow, it is an important part of the game and well executed at that. Immersive, well suited for the places and situations. The games’ soundtrack is brilliantly put together and flows along with the dynamic of the game.
This game comes with a heavy recommendation if you are a fan of mystery solving and detectives games that do not take too much of your time, but also if you are a fan of unique concepts that are presented and executed very well. This is one of those rare cases. You have to play this!