In the lavish mansion of a mysterious Marquis something has gone terrible awry in a day stuck in a deadly loop. The staff, under the influence of masks, are murdering guests, who are wearing masks that turn them into victims. You are an elderly priest, Lafcadio Boone, who with the help of yet another mysterious character called the Bloody Girl, is trying to prevent the murders happening, again and again. If Lafcadio does not succeed the time, the handy clock will help to rewind the time back for another try. This is The Sexy Brutale.
• Developer: Cavalier Game Studios
• Publisher: Tequila Works
• Reviewed on: Xbox One
• Also Available On: PC, PlayStation 4
• Release Date: 12th April 2017
The Sexy Brutale is an isometric top-down murder mystery puzzle game from Cavalier Game Studio and Tequila Works. On the surface it looks absolutely adorable and quite straightforward, but I was surprised how much depth there is in the game, even in my limited experience with the EGX Rezzed Demo.
The gist of the game is absolutely simple, you character, Lafcadio is wearing a mask (given to him by the Bloody Girl) that makes him invisible to the inhabitants of the mansion,which has been turned into a casino. Lafcadio witnesses the murder of the guest and in order to prevent them, rewinds back time with his magical clock and explores the mansion to find a way to save that particular guest’s life. If successful, Lafcadio inherits the mask of the guest he saved to get more abilities. In my demo, I was also able to get upgrades to my clock, namely syncing it to other clocks around the mansion to be more precise in my time jumps.
Exploring the mansion is a lot of fun. You cannot be in the same room with other characters, but you can spy on them through the key holes, which offer limited vision. You also can listen carefully to the sounds around the mansion to figure out where other characters are around the level. On top of that, there are other objects that you can interact with, like paintings and curious pieces of furniture, the descriptions of which build up on the story of the game.
The level that I played at EGX Rezzed was fairly small, only about 8 rooms, but gave a really good impression of the game. There were only two other characters in the area with me – the victim and the murderer – and on my first try I was able to figure out their movements in relation to the timeline. Following that, the movements of the characters that you have witnessed also appear on the map in the game’s menus. As you scrub the timeline underneath the map, you can see where each character on that level was at the time. This looks like an incredibly useful tool, particularly as the maps get bigger. The timing of characters’ actions is incredibly important. For example, on that particular level I had to wait for the victim to open a safe, so I could pick up a certain item then I would use to prevent the murder. All of course, without being noticed.
The aspect of the game that sold me on it instantly, even though I am not at all good at puzzle games, is its humour which seethes through absolutely everything you see or do. The characters’ design with disproportionally big heads and cute bouncy movement. The animation style, where you can’t help but chuckle when watching the little characters do things around the house. The theme of the game, where in the casino you can bet against the Grim Reaper. Finally, of course the dialogue. While it is not voiced, reading the text in speech bubbles is an absolute delight. It has a very British sense of humour, which made me laugh out loud several times.
Every EGX Rezzed I have one, rarely two, games that I drag all my friends attending the event to try out. This year, without a doubt, it was The Sexy Brutale. It has an undeniable charm and humour. While, knowing myself and my ineptitude at puzzles, I can imagine getting frustrated trying to figure out more advanced levels of the game, I can’t deny that I am really intrigued by it. It has a fairly simple premise, but a lot of tools helping a player through the levels, which adds a real mechanical depth to the game.
The Sexy Brutale is scheduled to release very soon on the 12th April on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.