Developer: D’Avekki Studios
Publisher: Wales Interactive
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Adventure & Other
Release Date: November 6, 2018 (EU & NA)
The Shapeshifting Detective, from Wales Interactive, is a FMV (full-motion video) murder mystery title that takes place in the town of August. A 21 year old girl who has posed for a series of boudoir photos is found dead, strangled and naked in her bed. The question is who killed her and what was the motive, and it’s your job to find out.
You’re chosen to do this investigation because of your special ability of being able to get information out of people. During your stay, you’ll be put up in the local guest house, along with tree visiting tarot card readers and the guest house owner. Surrounded by all these believers in the occult, there’s a lot of supernatural talk going on with Ouija boards, cults, time-traveling demons, and many more strange occurrences and rituals.
This all may seem odd at first, but what makes solving the murder easier is your ability to shape-shift. You’re a detective that can change his form to take on the appearance and voice of any other character. This means if someone does not want to tell the truth to the police, then maybe they’d admit something to what appeared to be a friend, partner, or even a secret lover.
Using the shape-shifting mechanic adds a fun puzzle element to the little gameplay there is when choosing different dialogue options and whether push your luck with some of the questioning. Players have to find the relationship between different characters and then manipulate them. This provides a certain level of strategy as you have to understand who’s best to talk to who and who’s going to get the information you need to get to the bottom of the case.
There’s a more mischievous side to using this ability and the chance to have some fun. You can really go off the rails and mess with people’s heads and possibly have them admit things as someone else, flirt, and play with people’s feelings about one another. There’s plenty of chances for some sexy moments too.
The acting in The Shapeshifting Detective is really well done and engaging. It always leaves you feeling suspicious about a certain topic or character. The tension builds as the story goes on and even the innocent feel like they’re hiding something. Being in first-person makes everything feel intimate and the edits to the camera shot help draw you in, even though there are the odd moments when a character just awkwardly freezes when they’re waiting for an answer.
The presentation is much more effective when there are these blurs of different shots and it keeps the screen more engaging and energy up. My only real issue with The Shapeshifting Detective is that it unintentionally seems to waster your time. You need to be in your room in private in order to shape-shift and to do this you need to go to the guest house, go to your room, change character, hail a cab, go to a location, and hopefully find that someone’s there. All this may take less than 20 seconds, but if you do this enough times it will add up.
While exploring different locations, but mostly the guest house, there’s this creepy atmosphere to the environments. It’s always dark and an ominous piano is always playing in the background, along with an eerie radio show that tells some disturbing stories. With all the choices you can make, The Shapeshifting Detective has some good replay value and different events or plot lines can be easy to miss, so it’s worth going back to try and do things differently.
Although some of the conversations do feel somewhat like a one-way track, there are times where you will feel like the passenger of a conversation rather than the driver. There may be only one dialogue choice and it’s because of these that The Shapeshifting Detective would have benefitted from a fast-forward option in order to skip some of the parts that you may have already heard many times before. You won’t want to skip too much though, as you may miss an important clue as to who the killer is, because the culprit is different each time and you won’t always be playing through the same story.
Overall, The Shapeshifting Detective is creepy, engaging, and has a story worth checking out possibly multiple times. I love this renaissance of FMV titles coming to the Switch and Wales Interactive is leading the charge in the genre. While it may not always be the most optimized experience in terms of gameplay and presentation, I’m glad we have adventure titles like this and I hope we continue to see them for the foreseeable future.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Review Key Provided by Wales Interactive
Should you wish to check out another of our reviews, you can do so by clicking here.
This post was written by minusthebrant