The Sexy Brutale is both sexy and brutal.
From indie developer Tequila Works, The Sexy Brutale is not your ordinary point-and-click adventure. It is a murder mystery game with a novel twist: your character, a priest by the name of Lafcadio Boone, is caught in a time loop and each night resets itself until each murder is not only solved, but prevented.
The game is centred on ‘The Sexy Brutale’, an old mansion casino that offers gaming tables, live performances, magic shows, and of course, murder. In fact, each guest to this casino dies brutally during a fateful Saturday evening by none other than the staff. This is why you need to tip people!
The night has a masquerade theme, and each guest and the staff wear masks. Boone wakes up to find that his mask is special and allows him to have his own recurring “Groundhog” evening. But everyone else’s masks are magic/possessed as well, and convey special abilities.
Once Boone saves a guest, he absorbs their mask’s power, granting abilities such as heightened hearing, glass shattering singing, and the ability to see and converse with ghosts.
The catch is, he needs to prevent each murder without being seen, as the masks take on a demonic life of their own if they spot Boone and attack him until he dies. Or more likely, until Boone runs away to the next room in a frantic array of clicking and squealing (the squealing is from me, not the game).
The novel concept of this game is both the best, and most annoying part. Each night is on a rapid journey through time, with each hour lasting about a minute. When the clock strikes midnight, the evening will reset regardless of where you are up to, and all items collected are also lost – however knowledge gained (e.g. where a secret doorway is located) is not lost. The game is designed for each murder to repeat itself multiple times.
By spying through doors and hiding in closets, you will learn the story leading up to the death of each character, and you will need to both follow the story of the victim and the murderers to learn clues.
This time-looping concept is original and fun for the most part. For some reason, each guest will continue to die over and over even once you have saved them, so you become accustomed to how far the evening has gone by the sound effects of a gunshot, crashing window, or a lonely bell which indicated who had just met their grisly end.
What is annoying about this, is that some parts of the game also become very repetitive, such as the start of each day, and absently walking into a room with guests or staff as you try to rush through rooms. Also, there is the very real chance of missing parts of the story by missing lines of dialogue because you weren’t in the right place at the right time. For example, one scene required Boone to stop two murders at once. When I succeeded, I realised I did not actually see one of the murders take place beforehand. It turns out it involved a giant spider so I was a bit disappointed that I missed part of that story.
The gameplay is not difficult once you get the hang of the time loop, but requires more patience and perseverance than real detective know-how. I found it a bit disappointing that the single object you will find will be the object you will need to use, rather than taking advantage of hilarious red herrings that change the story for the evening but not the murderous outcome.
One of my favourite games to date is still Maniac Mansion. I remember playing it on the Commodore 64 with my sister and freaking out not knowing what was going to happen next, experimenting with all the items, and laughing at all the hilarious jokes within the game.
For me, Maniac Mansion set a standard for point-and-click games still to this day. Sure, the graphics and sounds are far better in The Sexy Brutale (in fact the graphics are able to lighten the dark murder theme yet still carry a stylish steampunk quality that fits the romanticised murder mystery setting), although Maniac Mansion comes off more favourable comparatively in almost every other aspect. I expected more ability to ‘experiment’ in The Sexy Brutale, and much more could have been done with the time altering concept.
- Original concept and intriguing story
- Graphics are stylish and easy to navigate
- New mask abilities help alleviate repetitiveness
- Lack of depth in solving each murder
- Time altering concept could have been explored more
- Some elements will become repetitive and frustrating
The Sexy Brutale is sexy in its stylish look and game play, and brutal in its repetitive nature. This game could quite easily have been ten times bigger with the addition of extra items and temporal story arcs. While I did not mind the fast paced nature of each evening, I feel this would frustrate many veterans of point-and-click games who wish to take the time to explore and experience all the game has to offer. Still overall a fun game I thoroughly recommend playing for an evening that may just last forever.