I have always been pulled toward mystery solving games, and there’s no better genre for this than detective games. Granted, the slow roll of playing Sherlock Holmes is not for everyone, but it has a rewarding experience all of its own. Especially when the game involves challenging you to use real world research to attempt to solve problems. That’s just what Chinatown Detective Agency claims to do.
The year is 2032. You are playing as Amira Darma, a former Police Woman who now runs her own detective agency in Singapore. As it goes, Amira still has the contacts that she built up on while on the force, and she uses these contacts to get her initials jobs when starting the agency.
The Gameplay is pretty straight forward. As you proceed through the game, Amira is given a case with a goal to accomplish and a lead or two to start you out. It’s up to you how to proceed from there. You need to follow those leads and get on the case. The interesting thing about Chinatown Detective Agency is that there times when, as mentioned above, you will need to do a bit of research outside of the game. Whether you need to Google a quote from a book to find the author, or sit down and put in the effort to solve a cipher, the game challenges you in ways you don’t see in many games today.
Though the detective agency is based in Singapore, you will travel to other locations around the world as you progress through solving your cases. But don’t just expect the game to tell you where to travel to, oh no. You’ll need to extrapolate this information from the clues you’ve found while working the case. This little cyberpunk game brought me back to the days of my youth, watching Carmen San Diego on Saturday mornings.
Since the game is set in the near future, the cases you are assigned feel fairly plausible, and each one I was able to experience had its own unique narrative. There’s nothing that beats that satisfying feeling of staying the course of the investigation, unravelling all the clues and optional objectives, and finally uncovering the whole truth.
Chinatown Detective Agency has amazing potential, and while it may not be 100% accessible to a wider audience, it challenges you in ways that other games do not. It involves critical thinking, and while there are challenges, nothing is so difficult that you would need to resort to looking up walk-throughs. The game launches on April 7, and will have a demo available. If I can’t convince you to buy the game, then give the demo a go and be ready to add it to your cart.
4 stars out of 5