Murder mystery games


#1

I’m in the mood to play a good murder mystery. In your opinion, what are some great detective COGs/HGs/WIPs?
If you have the time, a quick description of the game’s plot would be nice to have as well.


#2

… i don’t believe we actually have many of those. Dead Already?, What Happened Last Night?, and Popcorn, Soda… Murder? are the only ones i can think of, and they’re… not exactly what i’d personally call good, let me put it that way. while i’ve been lurking on the wips for a long time i don’t think i’ve seen anything quite like a real murder mystery.

Dead Already? is about investigating your own death as a ghost. you have to regain your memories in order to do so. you also progressively gain the power to interact with the world once more, although the most emphasized way to increase it seems to by getting angry at various things.
What Happened Last Night? is about investigating the murder of the woman you wake up next to.
Popcorn, Soda… Murder? is about investigating the murder that happened at the theater you’d gone to to watch a movie. you’re a police detective in this one.

excuse me if any of this sounds too vague, i just couldn’t provide you with much more detail if i tried. it’s all very straightforward. i believe there might have been something called Murder in Berlin or something similar, i just can’t find it.

i mean, i’d be glad to find other interactive fiction, i just don’t know of many cogs out there like that specifically.


#3

The CScomp entry ‘Lunatic’ -might- be considered a little bit like that, because it’s a puzzle game about trying to put together how murders occurred from an obviously unhinged mind. Though it isn’t detective work by any means. Also, my WIP ‘Monsters’ will have some detective elements later on in the game, but those are not written yet, and I do not know when precisely they will be. Likewise, that is not the main focus.

Perhaps this would be a good genre for you to start writing a game in? OH! Hang on. I have thought of a game that is what you seek, but it’s not CoG. It is interactive fiction, however- ‘That Old Time Religion’, which can be found on Steam. It’s a Noir style game set in the Deadlands New Orleans setting. There are graphics, but more like a Noir-like pseudo VN.


#4

I love murder mysteries. I have one half-finished, though I don’t think I could convert it fully to CS (it has hotspots to click and a lot of art.) I’ve been thinking about learning Ren’Py to finish it.

The best I can think of is Haunted House: For Rent. There are three different mysteries that could have taken place in the house, and if you’re clever and want to, you can figure them out. (Or you can ignore the hauntings and keep loudly insisting the house is FINE.)


#5

I actually have been considering a murder mystery as my next game but I’m hoping to have my current one finished first XD


#6

As a player, I haven’t encountered any CoGs with mysteries in them. But there’s a good reason for that, as they’re somewhat problematic to write.

Unless the mystery permutates in some way, the game isn’t very replayable. Because you know what happened after the first playthrough, and the whodunnit tension is gone.

(Which is not to say that it can’t be done - I’ve even seen it done in a game I was testing. But it’s definitely a challenge for the author to pull off.)


#7

Oh - huh. Somehow I forgot that it’s an important part of Monsters of New Haven High. (There’s a lot going on in that game.)

As of the morning of Day 2, you learn that people have started disappearing. You’ll be able to weave together clues to put it together (if you care; it’s like HH:FR in that you can be wrapped up in yourself and not really notice.)

I know there will be less suspense on repeat playthroughs, but I’m trying to weave in a ton of little hints you might only notice after learning the secret.


#8

The Shadow Horror, by @AllenGies , is a horror but I’d say it has strong mystery elements to it. It’s a room-exploring format, plus puzzles, complete with clues to help you figure out the mysteries. Strong horror/paranormal flavour to it, though.


#9

shadow horror is brilliant (allen is fuggin amazing) and definitely worth a play or several, but not quite a murder mystery, i’d say.


#10

@Fiogan -That’s an accurate summary. More below.

@OfficerRattlesnake - Thank you for the compliment and I agree that the Shadow Horror isn’t a murder mystery.

There is a murder in Shadow Horror, and there is a mystery, but the two are only indirectly related. The murderer is definitely revealed when night falls and that is why the mystery of the murder isn’t the crux of the story.

Of all the murder-mysteries I’ve ever read the revelation of identity pretty much locks down the tale and doing the same in an app would spoil the replay value. It is like looking for your lost keys, when you find them then you stop looking. A writer can throw in a red herring or two, maybe an accusation that turns out to be false, but that’s about it. The only exception that I can recall being ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ by Agatha Christie, wherein Poirot discerns two possible identities for the murderer and posits the reasons for both.

Would it be possible to have a randomly determined murderer generated at the start of the game? Possibly, but it would take additional writing to have that play out properly and even then it would still be the same murder, just with a different hand holding the pistol/knife/candlestick/grenade/rebar/syringe/plutonium.

If I were to tackle such a problem, I’d consider nesting the murder in the midst of a larger story. Have the MC be a private detective, have them investigate something for a wealthy Patron, and have what the MC uncovers during a set amount of game actions determine who is the murderer down the way. Should the MC primarily look into Hector’s shaky background, then it was Hector’s wife Connie who offed the Patron to make sure that the all important will and testament wasn’t changed. Should Connie’s mob connections come to light, then its her sister Claire who stabs the Patron in order to protect them all from mafia retaliation. Claire has a drinking problem and accidentally hit a child with her car, which the Patron covered up and used to leverage her into the perfect daughter, but when stress began to show it was Connie and her Husband Hector who…

Hmm… maybe the Patron doesn’t have to be the victim, but one of the four central NPC’s could be, and that would offer serious replay value. It would also be a real headache to write and code. Four possible murders, three possible murderers, and scenes to match.

I’m going to pass on writing something like that, at least for now. But I certainly would love to play such a game.


#11

As long as you stay to the simple stuff (at least that’s about as much as I can do) Ren’py is really easy to learn. I transitioned a game from CS to Ren’py and it wasn’t that hard. (Image maps/hotspots are really simple in Ren’py.)

But…I love good mystery games so this encouragement might be partly selfish :slight_smile:


#12

You could also do another take on the “nested murder” scenario and do it in a way that encompasses more than one mystery, but requires information you’d only know after subsequent playthroughs i.e. solving one mystery gives you a clue to a larger overarching one. It would be a nightmare to code, and I’m not even certain how I’d structure it to make each mystery justify another playthrough and still make narrative sense, but it might be interesting at the very least.


#13

One of the things I was planning for the sci-fi murder mystery is that you can’t uncover the whole story in one playthrough. There are several major characters, each with their own story that answers part of the mystery. The plan being that even after you know WHO is murdering everyone, it would take another several playthroughs to fully understand the why and how.


#14

Do you think readers would generally have the patience for more than one play-through, if they felt muddled after the first time round? I know with Planetary Quarantine, by @distracteddad , it seemed like a lot of readers complained of feeling unsatisfied after a single play-through because they’d missed enough information to make the story seem incomplete. The data was there, it just was on different paths…I mean, with some games (again, like Shadow Horror, or @Lucid’s Paradox Factor, which conveniently loops you back all on its own much of the time), the puzzle factor is obvious. But on a more narrative driven story…anyway, it would be interesting to get that format to work!

Another fun idea for replay value might be to get a case through all the phases of modern crime-solving, from forensics to detective work clear to court, trial, and sentencing. It would require rather a lot of research, but the options seem endless. Did you arrest the correct person? Do you have corresponding evidence? How does the trial go, and why? And now that I think about it, there would be potential fun in the protagonist actually being the suspect. Hm…