Sunday, September 13, 2020

Twisted Tale

"Off with his head."
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

So the open-world mystery game Paradise Killer is out, which feels like a mix between Danganronpa and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. It's been getting fairly positive reviews, so I decided to get it too... but after I started the game I remembered I'm rather prone to motion sickness with first-person games! Any other perspective, I have no problems and I do play shooters like Splatoon 2, so it's really the first-person perspective that gets to me... I'll eventually get around to finishing Paradise Killer, but it'll probably take a while because I just can't do long play sessions...

And speaking of play sessions that aren't very long, I also remembered I hadn't written anything about MAKOTO WAKAIDO's Case Files "Executioner's Wedge" yet, a very short, but entertaining mystery game by developer Ekke, which was released two weeks ago on iOS and Android. A lot of people spoke very positively about the game on the release day on social media, which made me rather curious, so I got the game right away, and I too found the game very charming. The game features both a Japanese and English title, but I don't believe it actually has an English language option though. The game starts with a grandfather sitting on a bench, telling his grandson about a case that happened back in the early eighties, when he was a police detective. His tale starts with the discovery of a decapitated body hanging from a utility pole, with the mark of a sect drawn nearby. Similar murders had occured two times earlier, though with some interval between the deaths, but it appears this is the third in a series of cult-related murders. As the detective digs into the identity of the corpse and who killed him, he uncovers a rather curious plot.

The visuals are probably what stands out most: MAKOTO WAKAIDO's Case Files "Executioner's Wedge" features some really nice and unique-looking sprite work to portray a stylized hardboiled world of deceit and murder. It kinda reminds me of the sprites in the GameBoy Color game Scooby-Doo! Classic Creep Capers (a game which is much better than you'd ever expect!). The music is great too, and this game is definitely really nice to listen to and look at. 

As a mystery game, MAKOTO WAKAIDO's Case Files "Executioner's Wedge" is very simple though. Each section, you have to collect a number of evidence/testimonies by questioning the witnesses at various locations, like the crime scene or a bar where the victim was probably last seen. Once you have all necessary clues for that particular section, you'll proceed to the "Inference" section, where you'll have to answer a few questions in the shape of walls that block your way which will help you sort out all the information you've collected until then. Answering all these questions correctly will allow you to move on to new locations with new witnesses, and rinse and repeat. It's very simple and ultimately, the game will only take a hour or so to complete, but given you play a cop, the emphasis on questioning people does not feel out of place. I do have to say the system of questioning people can be very cumbersome. You have to "set" a piece of testimony or evidence beforehand and then start a conversation with a witness: if that person has something to say about the set piece, they'll have an extra piece of conversation and otherwise, there's nothing. But you have to set every single piece of testimony/evidence seperately and start a new conversation with a witness each and every time just to see if they can tell you something about that, and after a while it's really annoying you have repeat the cycle of "Set piece of testimony → start conversation → see if there's a new option → end conversation → set other piece of testimony → start conversation" It's a short game, luckily, for this system could've killed a longer game.

The mystery itself is not super surprising, though it is fun to follow all the clues and slowly uncover what has happened as a simple police detective just doing his job. The way the story ultimately ties back to the story device of the police detective telling his grandson about this case gives the game a nice touch, though I have my doubts about a grandfather telling a child about a series of gruesome ritualistic murders! 

The game can be downloaded for free, but it does incorporate a funny income model through advertisements: if you answer one of the questions in the Inference sections wrong, you'll have to watch a 30 second ad. So if you're the perfect detective and get all the questions correctly in one go, you'll never have to watch any ads in this game! Interesting how it 'rewards' good detectives in this manner.

MAKOTO WAKAIDO's Case Files "Executioner's Wedge" may be a short game, but its presentation really make this a memorable experience and while it's not some mystery masterpiece and can even be a slightly weird in terms of mechanics, it's a great way to spend your time if you have a spare hour somewhere. I'd love to see a more fleshed out version of this game!

Original Japanese title(s):  『和階堂真の事件簿 処刑人の楔』


  1. It seems Paradise Killer got a patch for the motion sickness a few days ago. It lets you adjust motion blur and field of view

    1. Thanks for the heads-up! I hadn't touched the game the last few days because I really couldn't cope with it, so I hadn't noticed it got an update. Let's hope I'll be able to progress faster now ^^'

  2. I too had problems with motion sickness in Paradise Killer. Now that I've increased the field of view, it seems a bit more bearable. Strange how certain games cause more motion sickness, even on the small Switch screen. I don't remember being so badly affected by Obra Dinn, for example.
    Is that voxel image at the top just some extra art, not actually in the game? I think it makes a good style for an atmospheric game, a bit like observing a doll's house.

    1. The top image is from the title screen!

      I had a light case of motion sickness with Obra Dinn, but nothing like I had with pre-patch Paradise Killer. I still have to find the best settings for me, but good to hear the patch has some effect for you! I didn't have it at all with Danganronpa, so I hadn't even considered motion sickness when I bought Paradise Killer, so I was rather surprised by how badly I coped with the game.