Sins of the Father
mystery / thriller
Commended by mizal on 7/21/2023 7:24:42 PM
"Too few ratings to be ranked"
Played 155 times (finished 13)
"Wandering through the desert"
"Not going to lose any sleep"
"I'll need to see some identification"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 16. If this were a movie, it would probably be between PG-13 and R.
Based Off A True Story
This is a classic whodunit for those readers who feel like solving a little murder mystery. Ten people are sleeping in a locked house overnight, by dawn one of them is dead. Called in to investigate you must carefully search the crime scene, interview the suspects and find the clues to determine who the killer is before time runs out but beware: almost everyone has something to hide and to discover the murderer you must dig deep into the secrets that hide behind the closed doors, faded photographs and old memories of every family home. Are you clever enough to solve the Graves Mystery of Hanging Hill House?
Starting with a disclaimer has become a characteristic of my reviews, so here we go: To the author, take everything I mention with a grain of salt; I’m no master when it comes to writing, nor am I a seasoned reviewer (yet). As for readers, I’ve removed/ censored the main spoilers but there are a few plot events alluded to here. Please do yourselves a favor and read the story first.
This story is called ‘Sins of the Father’, so if the father isn’t the killer, that’ll be an outright lie. Jokes aside, I really like the simple yet effective description. Ten suspects, locked room mystery, hidden secrets—the perfect formula for an engaging mystery.
The introduction sets the tone by explaining the details of the death through dialogue. It’s technically an infodump, but I don’t mind, as it gets straight to the point and there’s never too much background information when it comes to a mystery. The gruesome nature of the child’s death also foreshadows the world we’re about to enter, with its shady and secretive cast of characters.
Slight nitpick: for multi-paragraph dialogue, place an opening quotation mark at the start of every paragraph. Also, at risk of sounding like a line editor, there should have been a comma before ‘Jack’ in the second paragraph; it’s probably an oversight as this gets corrected later on.
Lots of information is given on the first page. It’s almost overwhelming, if I’m being honest—I’m tempted to take a piece of paper and write notes. In fact, that’s what I did. However, the detailed exposition is testament to a well-planned and elaborately crafted mystery; it is delivered with rather simplistic language, establishing the plot as the centerpiece of this story.
I like the option to select a difficulty. Although I selected the easiest option as a fallback (it would be devastating to underestimate the game and have to restart), my challenge would be using as little time as possible on the counter. Let’s see how this goes.
Hanging Hill House is painted as a ghastly and creepy place. From the noose on an oak tree to the spiked metal gate, it is the perfect scene for a gothic murder mystery. Everything matches this atmosphere—there’s a stereotypical scary guard dog, a scythe, and a nearby place called the Hanging Arms. Everything’s described as ‘ugly’, ‘empty’ and ‘lifeless’ (empty’s even used twice in the same sentence).
The murder follows this dark and dismal feel, too. A cut “so deep through the neck it looked like a second open mouth” — this phrase gave me the chills. Lots of the word choice is to be praised: adjectives are used to set the mood very effectively, and the sudden shifts from subtle spooky scenes to the more gory details of the death is done well.
NARRATIVE STYLE & CHARACTERS
Usually with a few mysteries I’ve read, the protagonist comes off as bland compared to the colorful cast of suspects. This is not the case for Sins of the Father. From the second page onwards, the protagonist’s narrative voice shines through the prose, from off-hand warnings about theorizing without evidence (there goes my accusations against the father due to the story’s title!) and a well-written description about a nightmare which may or may not be foreshadowing/ a parallel to the victim.
I enjoy the way new characters are described—it’s succinct, without leaving out important foreshadowing details or being overly descriptive. Most side characters or suspects also have character traits that stand out, like a certain character who is unable to speak freely in the presence of someone else, and the characteristic nervousness of another.
The doctor has to be one of my favorite characters. He has some super cool lines, such as: “To find the source of a crime you must become historians and scientists as well as detectives”. Not only this, but he’s one of the most helpful. Oh, and the title of this story is referenced here. Nice!
I found it kind of confusing to have two Elizabeths. At the point of writing this, I’m not sure if this becomes a major plot point later—if not, I suggest eliminating the confusion entirely. Later on, there’s even a lady named Eliza, and… well, you get where I’m going. It took me a moment to realize there were 3 people with very similar names running about the house.
Most of the characters, especially the suspects, are written with strong motives that explain their actions, whether this means hiding information from fear of being incriminated to harboring hatred against other characters. There was a lot of attention to realism too: from the coordinated answers between the main couple to the synchronization of conversational styles of siblings, there were many small moments crafted with intention which showcased the author’s attention to detail. One of my favorite parts was the [redacted] and the simple, sad words beneath them all. This made the world feel more lived in.
This section was originally a combination of my notes while reading and my favorite clues, but I removed the spoilers given the author’s request. Some of it may still be hinted at. For those reading this before the story (why would you do such a thing?) read at your own risk.
At first, I was confused by how we interviewed non-suspect characters. Still, having as much information as possible is helpful when it comes to a mystery. It was a nice touch that not all ‘searching’ choices led to clues, given that the previous detectives had already combed through the place.
I found this line kind of funny: “Fighting the urge to give the dog a rude, but unprofessional, hand gesture you turn away.”
Random but I really love this line; it’s so poetic: “He gently replaces the hand inside the blanket and tucks it tightly around Saville, as though he were only sleeping, as though he were still alive and as though none of this was real but just a dream of a story that was not true.”
Tiny nitpick: The missing comma in this sentence confused me for a moment as I thought there was another character involved — “This gentlemen, I tell you in the full confidence that it will not be repeated.”
I interviewed the baby. That scene was cute and funny, but entirely useless in my investigation.
The rooms being described as northeast, southeast, and so on felt a bit dull and devoid of personality, though I suppose the detective being unfamiliar with the house makes it understandable.
The more I read, the darker the secrets became. Some encounters were for the readers to get their bearings of the central events in the plot, with quite a bit of repetition, but in others, everything became much clearer. The fun of solving mysteries lies in collecting clues so you can fit together as many pieces of the puzzle as possible.
When I wrote the first sentence of this review, I didn’t realize the time option was how many links I’ll have to click before getting to solve the mystery. That’s an oversight on my part. Anyhow, I selected the longest time since I wanted to write a proper review, so towards the end I clicked through choices I’ve missed then spammed a few final links.
And we’re here at the grand reveal. I enjoyed reading the other detective’s smart but most likely incorrect suspicion. I smiled at how the page was titled ‘Choose Your Suspect’, an acronym for CYS. I raised my eyebrows at how there are 700 possible combinations the reader has to click if they’re blindly searching for the correct one.
The satisfaction of getting the answer correct was initially dimmed by the events which occurred after. If it wasn’t for the page titled ‘right’, I would have thought I made a mistake unknowingly and therefore clicked through the other 699 combinations (so thank you for that title). But then the real ending came and was better than I expected. Not only does it confirm my interpretation of the clues, but it fits so well thematically in terms of the turmoil and morality-hinged destruction the characters face.
Although a lot of details in the mystery appeared unnecessary at first, they contributed to the impossibility of the crime (like how the [redacted] were always accounted for, which makes the actual [redacted] the only possible solution). Whilst the confession didn’t explain the relevant clues, there was no need for it to—it makes sense when I apply the notes I’ve taken down on a document. Despite this, there were some other clues/ red herrings I felt ought to have been explained, as they were rather out of the ordinary yet somehow unrelated to the crime. Then again, maybe I just missed an important detail somewhere.
Nevertheless, the ending was well-written. I never thought a mystery-focused story could have such a strong and compelling theme. The last paragraph is extremely meaningful: it signals the breaking of generational curses and choosing to be better than your past. I loved it.
This was a brilliant storygame. The mystery of the Hanging Hill House was a cleverly crafted one, with well-written prose and a worthwhile payoff. I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
on 8/7/2023 7:32:29 AM with a score of 1
Great to see another big mystery map game. I thought the mystery was easier to solve than the previous game you had of this format. There are great clues and hints scattered through the story. My favorites are probably the ones located on the main floor of the house.
I like that the amount of knowledge that each character has of the family dynamics differs quite from each other. Staff is for example hesitant to call out names (makes sense due to their fear of getting fired or differences in social status) while family members are more likely to point fingers.
I like that the setting is a house. Just like an island it keeps the number of locations manageable while adding a a brand-new atmosphere to it.
The detective does have a little less personality than the one from the oil story, but I don't mind it that much due to the very engaging puzzle elements.
Will, it's an awesome game. I like it!
on 7/11/2023 1:57:25 PM with a score of 1
Whodunits are one of my favorite literary genres, and this is the best of Will's whodunit stories, and my favorite of all of Will's stories that I have read so far.
This story has no major flaws. It is an upgraded version of Will's other whodunits, keeping their best qualities but with fewer errors- the dialogue is markedly better (particularly flowing more naturally), better characterization and word choice, and more thorough and substantial details in each scene. I also enjoyed the open-world investigation structure and classic mystery mood. There is a good sprinkling of necessary red herrings throughout the story. There's even a bit of replay value to see all of the room descriptions and dialogue trees after you've beaten the game.
Minor errors that come to mind were Holcombe's name being misspelled as John and Holborne on separate occasions, the victim being named Saville Kent on one page, and the drawing room link being named "dining room" on the main hall page.
One suggestion that I have to improve future whodunits would be to give readers the option to make the final case-solving guess at any time (instead of having to click the Time all the way down to zero if you figure it out before Time runs out like now), maybe something along the lines of a link on every page that takes us to the guessing page, and, if we guess incorrectly, then there's an additional link on the "Wrong guess" page that take us back to the page that we were on previously before attempting the guess besides the links that are currently there.
on 7/6/2023 5:56:50 AM with a score of 1
Another very good game from this author! I recently played Detective 1: Blacksea Island from Will and I enjoyed having again the mechanic of a "time countdown" (I played the normal difficulty). It gives some pressure in what actions to take next, while allowing an almost total freedom in exploring the place and looking for clues. I felt that the story-telling and narrative in this game was even more advanced though (great dialogues, interesting characters with personality/backstory etc.), which was really appreciated.
In the end, I had the right culprit and motive but I guess I got confused with what was THE incriminating piece of evidence (I tried a couple before looking for the solution). I felt this part could have been made clearer, but that's certainly on me and it takes nothing away from the fun I had with this whodunit game ! :)
on 7/27/2023 10:02:23 AM with a score of -1
It's another classic kind of game from Will. Who is prolific enough to just rest on his laurels if he wanted as one of the best authors on this site. But, of course he'd rather not do that. I'll have to read through this again, as I don't really have the time I used to comb through every ending to get every score.
However, this is a game that is worthy of a read through for all decide to browse this site.
on 7/15/2023 4:54:23 PM with a score of 0
Another well-researched and well written historical murdery mystery written by Will11! It is always a joy to read your stories. It is difficult enough that you may know all clues pointing to top suspects however the motive can at times be hard to pinpoint. I am looking forward to your next CYOA, preferrably...Magellan 5!! :)
on 7/10/2023 10:23:04 AM with a score of -1
Great Job, Will! You wrote yet again another intriguing and fun storygame.
on 7/5/2023 9:00:14 AM with a score of 1
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