Probably a personal preference, but it never occurs to me to skip narrative that isn’t contained within the MC’s PoV because a.) I most likely paid for the game and should get my money’s worth and read the entire thing and b.) I’ve skimmed over things before and it’s bitten me in the ass when it comes to making choices (sometimes big, sometimes small) that I could’ve got ‘right’ if I hadn’t skimmed or skipped the narrative text.
Anyway, we’ll have to disagree on that perception of the Detective since I was never given the impression (see previous comment) that the Detective was that useless. I’m agreeing with E_RedMark and giving the IF the benefit of the doubt because it markets itself as a romance and not a crime thriller.
“Experience the big and small moments with a host of characters throughout this exciting twist on the usual supernatural tale—a story which will take you through heart-pounding romance, smile-filled friendships, and shiver-inducing drama.” - Excerpt from Wayhaven: Book One’s promo spiel
Go down into the bullet points and not once does it directly say that the story is about solving the string of murders. The closest points you could argue for the game marketing itself as a crime thriller are 4th and 5th points (reading from the top down).
Most people who play Wayhaven probably don’t play it be a detective (speaking from experience here), but play it for the romance. So the focus for them is whether or not they have agency and are competent in the romance aspects of the game. We could argue whether or not the game satisfies those two criteria, but that’s slightly off topic since that’s focusing on a specific vein of competency/agency in IF and not in general (which is your original topic).
In the end, if I want to have agency in the romance aspect of an IF my go-to would be Wayhaven. If I want to have agency as a detective, my go-to is Highlands, Deepwaters where the focus isn’t on romance (it metaphorically gets shoved in the fridge if you pick certain options) but on being a detective in an increasingly disturbing world.
Another example would be the Dragon from Choice of the Dragon versus the Cat from Choice of the Cat.
From the get-go, the player is instantly told that the Dragon is the one in complete control; they can do whatever they want, whenever they want with little to no consequences if they’re skilled enough and play to those advantages. Having an incompetent Dragon because the author said so would ruin the experience of being a dragon, especially one with that much agency right from the start of the game.
In Choice of the Cat, it’s set up where the MC is in a cat carrier and we’re implicitly told that we - as a cat - don’t have as much agency as the Dragon. We’re a cat and we can’t get out and have to rely on Andre for help (I think that’s the husband’s name; correct me if I’m wrong) to unlock the cat carrier.
I don’t know if you ever played Choice of the Cat, but that lack of agency made sense (again for the reasons I said in regards to a baby!MC) because you’re a cat - a pet cat, no less - in a household with humans and a dog. And because you’re a cat you are incompetent compared to NPCs by virtue of being a cat. Cats don’t have agency in comparison to their owners who decide the fate of their entire lives on a whim, so to speak.
There are instances where the MC can exercise their agency over these characters, but that’s because these NPCs (Homer the dog, your next door neighborhood cat, and Moon) have relatively the same level of agency as the MC themselves.
In my opinion, incompetent characters can be done well but that hinges entirely on if their incompetence is believable (i.e. being a baby, a pet, or something that doesn’t have as much agency compared to others by nature of being itself) and nuanced (i.e. as that Cat you can directly influence Homer, but you can only indirectly influence Andre again because of the relative level of agency between you and the NPC).