Detective 1: Blacksea Island
mystery / thriller
Commended by mizal on 10/5/2018 11:18:48 AM
, #6 for
Played 5,388 times (finished 176)
"Wade in shark infested water"
"A well spent lunch break"
"Need to be accompanied by an adult"
Contains content that may not be suitable for persons under age 13. If this were a movie, it would probably be PG.
Part of Series
The first in a new series of stories featuring the teenage amateur detective Susan Knox as the reader's character. Set in open world locations where the reader is free to choose where to look for clues, who to interview, what to ask and where the correct suspect, motive and murder method must be identified within a set time limit, this first story is set on the mysterious and notorious Blacksea Island whose history of insanity and death holds the secret to the unusual death of Knox's best friend...
I hope the reader enjoys my latest story.
Note: This story includes a few cases of naughty words (for example one of these words rhymes with "bunt", "punt" and "hunt" and isn't "runt") so those with delicate sensibilities, easily offended eyes or a nervous disposition should avoid this story to avoid mental distress, disorders or damaging derangements of dangerous and diabolical dimensions.
Finally I estimate this story would take roughly one hour to complete, give or take, and the reader might benefit from making notes or a map of the island, depending how good their memory is :)
DETECTIVE ONE: BLACKSEA ISLAND: 88%
SHOULD I READ THIS? Yes, especially if you like trying to solve the crime yourself while reading mystery books and watching mystery shows.
Preview: You travel around the island investigating different locales and asking questions of the suspects. As you uncover different pieces of evidence, you can work out who committed the crime, and how and why it was done, and then confront the killer.
Basic Plot & Coherence: 4/5
A well-formed tight murder mystery story. The killer has clear means, motive, and opportunity, and it’s up to the player to figure them out. The crime itself is relatively simple (and the killer’s motivations aren’t extremely logical), but the act of discovering them is what makes this game really worth it.
Each of the plot elements were distinct and satisfying. The story fits together extremely well, but retains a very expansive feel.
I liked the way the island’s history was integrated into the story. This background knowledge gave the fictional events a lot of depth, making the island seem like a very expansive place. The island like a place that could really exist, not just some place the author invented for the sole purpose of writing a mystery story. The history, while providing essential clues to the murder, also provided some nice red herrings. At the end, I was surprised to learn the extent to which the histories were true.
Characters & Development: 4/5
Each of the characters serve their purpose well, with each providing a slice of important information needed to solve the crime. The characters are all fairly two-dimensional, but this is understandable, given the nature of the story.
I suppose I didn’t think the killer’s motivations made a lot of sense. Also, they kind of just confess at the end, without have any real reason to do so. This is all pretty forgiveable however, as it gives the story a cinematic conclusion, allowing the player to win through the knowledge of the island they’ve gathered during their investigations.
No typos here!
Mastery of Language: 2/3
The language was direct and functional, which works well in a game like this, as it doesn’t unnecessarily distract the player. The opening scenes were more descriptive than the rest of the game, which was good, as it set the tone and did not distract from the mystery.
Mechanics & Coding: 5/5
I certainly didn’t notice any bugs.
On the one hand, I hate the time mechanic, on the other hand, I think it really contributed to the overall atmosphere of the work. I played this game with a sense of urgency, working in every way I could to limit the amount of time I spent walking around. I’ll grudgingly admit that the time mechanic served its purpose perfectly, and added to the game. Interestingly, I think that even though the player has plenty of time to visit everywhere they need to, the time mechanic is more narratively useful in the mood it imposes on the game, rather than in actually limiting the player’s options. The time mechanic was a good way to allow the player open-map exploration while also capping just how much sleuthing they can do.
Branching: 0/0 (Usually 3)
None, obviously, as this is essentially a murder mystery told in a nonlinear format. You either win, or you don't.
Player Options/fair choice: 2/2 (usually 3)
Pretty good. I felt like I had the options I wanted. The dialogue options were somewhat limited, but I felt like this added to the story rather than took away from it, as it left the player to do most of the thinking themselves, and removed unnecessary distractions.
Olivia Powell’s habit of wearing a kevlar vest under her clothes should have been foreshadowed. :)
I guessed correctly who the killer was very early in the story, but I’m the first to admit this guess was pure speculation and had no basis in fact. It wasn’t until later, after discovering more evidence, that I figured out the how and the why of the crime.
I really enjoyed this. I've read a few murder mysteries over the past week or so and enjoyed them, so I really appreciated having the chance to investigate one in a more active manner. This is an excellent work!
CONCLUSION: 22/25 = 88%
I’ll definately be playing the sequel!
on 8/13/2021 2:55:15 PM with a score of 0
I missed reading classic mystery so this felt really nice. I've tried the hard mode first because I'm stuck-up and also believe in the power of the "GO BACK" button; luckily in the end it wasn't hard at all.
I understood the main gist of the story more or less halfway through, then checked some details and after talking to the right people I was sure of what had happened with a few time points to go. The story never bored me though, and I think the level of difficulty might be just right for a younger audience, or one with little experience in mystery plots.
The style is direct and to the point and I think that works best when reading mystery fiction. There are very few grammar errors and the pace is well balanced (even in the relevant/non relevant ratio of the interactions).
The geography of the island was also built really well; I managed to picture it in my mind easily enough and I'm not exactly known for my sense of direction.
Going more into details (still no spoilers though) I really liked all the parts that described the history of the island, including the little appendix on real-life references at the end. I was positively surprised to see that the story continued after the reveal of the culprit, but I have to side with Mizal on the chest wound matter.
In the end this was a fun and tightly packed mystery game and I can't wait to read the future additions to the series. A 7/8 for this genre.
on 10/5/2018 3:03:12 PM with a score of 0
This was fun. :)
I'd known you were working on a murder mystery but this wasn't what I expected at all. It's nice seeing more kid friendly stuff on the site and I'll be looking forward to the next installments in the series.
The timer countdown is such a simple thing but it's so effective for adding an extra level to it all, instead of just clicking every little thing it got me thinking about how to use each click the most effectively and what I should really be focusing on for clues. It got me thinking of all kids of ways that could be used in a puzzle too.
The writing is pretty solid as usual, although I think it would pay to remind yourself to break up sentences as you write. Some of it is just a style thing I know across all your stories but some lines really do threaten to become run ons, or just go on too long and become a slog. (I think the worst offender in this case is 'You lay down the Dorsetshire Gazette for 1 July 2000 (by now, nearly a month old) and stare moodily over the Blacksea Ferry’s railing towards Blacksea Island, squatting like a bug on the gentle sea, its thickly-growing dark green trees clustering together like a wall which, together with the almost total lack of beach beneath the steep cliffs, makes the island and its secrets appear ominously impenetrable.') which could easily have been split into two or three sentences that would've had more impact.
Just a note, I beat the game on the hardest difficulty the first time through. Since that apparently wasn't supposed to happen just letting you know in case you want to up the challenge level a little on the next one. Although honestly I feel like I shouldn't have beat it, I missed some details and time ran out just as I started talking to the person who would've told me about a gun. But I had to accuse somebody and once I looked over the suspect list there was only one person it could be based on another bit of info I'd been told. (Avoiding spoilers since new story and all and I will be featuring this comment.) Maybe some kind of 'wow I guess I really have no idea?' failure option at the end would be reasonable...or a more detailed tracker on that variable if one already exists, idk I didn't go back and do a deliberate time wasting run yet.
The mystery itself was fun to piece together and I enjoyed poking around for clues, and they all came together in a logical way. I felt like you hit a nice balance there of relevant vs non relevant stuff to look into. In the end however I felt like I had a good idea of what happened but no evidence whatsoever...if there hadn't been that handy public confession the character would've not remotely been believed. (Put me in mind of a Mitchell and Webb skit called The Evil Voice, you might get a chuckle out of looking it up.) But to be fair, I suspect this is just me massively overthinking a YA detective story.
Although, still in that vein...just sayin, a shotgun point blank to the chest would definitely, unquestioningly kill someone. Like, immediately.
on 10/5/2018 1:06:40 PM with a score of 0
This was actually very good, and took me many tries to figure it out!
— Pepsi95 on 2/25/2022 9:40:09 PM with a score of 0
I usually don't like puzzle games,but this was extremely good. It kept me entertained for a while, and It was not too easy like I had expected!
on 12/4/2021 6:47:02 PM with a score of 0
This storygame has everything needed for an enjoyable open world murder mystery: a living, breathing, ominous, isolated setting that sets the tone; a myriad of characters, locations and backstory to explore and pore over; a tragic tale of murder with a personal stake for the protagonist; and game mechanics that complement the above very well.
To get into the game mechanics more, I love the time limit and the open world that you're left to explore. For a murder mystery, this is the right way to do it: allow the player to slowly unravel the mystery little by little, then slowly looking for specific info and following the breadcrumbs, instead of just spoonfeeding answers as they find certain things. The game gives you the details, but you have to piece it all together in your head.
This would've made the game too simple were it not for the time limit, which is a great idea and woven convincingly into the narrative in a way that feels natural and not contrived. It's also refreshing to not have the clichéd trapped on the island/ferry/train as the murderer picks people off one by one story, which it easily could've been due to the setting, but the choice to instead have this time limit was a choice well made.
If I have to criticse anything, perhaps it would be the lack of replayability, although I know that's no the aim of this storygame. I felt like I discovered everything I needed to with avout 30 time left, although I did play on easy difficulty. This probably is pitched about right, with me almost having completed it on normal difficulty on time. However, it's a shame that I don't have a reason to go back and explore this creepy, atmospheric Island, since I've solved the mystery already. I'm looking forward ot trying the sequels!
on 9/8/2021 11:46:21 PM with a score of 0
It was really good for a mystery choose your own adventure. But as usual I got it wrong (cuz I suck at mystery) I do know the method but I am yet to still discover the suspect and motive.
— Cindy Lue on 7/14/2021 2:22:27 PM with a score of 0
This was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it! Nice work author.
— Tekla on 6/13/2021 12:59:21 AM with a score of 0
Enjoyable read, engaging mystery. I'll admit I played on easy as I wanted to explore as much as possible. I was a big fan of the plot and way the mystery unfolds. My only critique is that I did figure out the correct answer pretty much within the first 10 minutes. The rest of the game was still interesting, and I certainly don't regret the time I spent or the full page of scribbled notes I took. Some other reviewers did say this mystery might be a good fit in difficulty for younger readers. Full disclosure I could be considered a younger reader (although I do read a lot of murder mysteries so maybe I am just used to the genre) and did not find the mystery challenging. Overall, this story is worthwhile and the history and plot are engaging, if a little simple to unravel. Thumbs up!
on 5/8/2021 5:07:59 PM with a score of 0
This is great. The time element, the player agency, premise, dialogue, mystery, and so on, yes! The reader has enjoyed your story. I read this when the sequel showed up on the new games list and I decided to do my due diligence.
The time element. This is the part that adds tension. The timer steadily counts down - All the suspects together for just one day - The young investigator knows this is her only chance, with this knowledge the reader is invested as the case develops. I have just one a couple nitpicks. Everything taking the same amount of time is strange...reading a tombstone or getting lost in the wetlands. I would also like a way to skip to the end once I've conducted my investigation.
Considering it's a linear style adventure, solving a case that can only end one way, the amount of player agency is pretty incredible. I won't go as far as to say it's everything I could have wanted. More questions for the suspects would have been good. I would have liked to see more options open up as Knox learns more. In that way we could in a small way affect the world, that would be a great touch! Asking about a certain maiden name for example...
Mechanically this is exactly the type of storygame I've always thought there should be more of around here. The editor is perfect for letting readers move around a setting on their own volition and having a little adventure. This is a perfectly good mystery and good old-fashioned fun. I wanted there to be even more of a reason to explore the island. I’m surely not the only person who would have liked another likely suspect or two. I found a few ways of getting the same reinforcing evidence, which is well and good, but it all pointed in only one way. After a certain point I didn’t feel the need to gather further evidence because the solution was perfectly clear.
There isn't a lot of time put into developing the nine characters we meet. Despite this, we get a feel for them very quickly. Dialogue and description are to thank for this. The way the player makes the accusation is pretty well put together. I was nervous about it feeling lame, but I was instead quite pleased with the whole presentation. The ending was a suitable climax. I'm getting excited about reading the next one in the series.
on 4/4/2021 3:27:28 AM with a score of 0
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