First of all, I didn’t expect it to be silly in such an amusing way! When Andreas Maler, also a professional painter in 16th-century Upper Bavaria, is discovered hiding around a corner to secretly follow his abbey’s stonemason, not great animation occurs, but he suddenly tears open your eyes And if he then tries to justify himself, then you actually have the choice of laughing silly or stammering a lame excuse as a dialogue option. Oh, and there are even spelling mistakes in numerous speech bubbles, which are then quickly wiped away and corrected. That’s exactly my humor!
At first I almost dismissed the game as one of many indie things that just wanted to stand out with their weird art style. But then I quickly saw that no less a studio than Obsidian (The Outer Worlds, Pillars of Eternity, Fallout: New Vegas) was behind it, I took a closer look and found that director Josh Sawyer (same Pillars of Eternity and Fallout: New Vegas) New Vegas) is damn serious about the whole thing. No wonder: the man is a trained historian and just wanted to get away from fantasy and science fiction.
So the graphics, including the sparse animations, not only consistently follow the style of the early modern period, they also illustrate a full-fledged role-playing game in which decisions and dialogues play a central role. When setting Andreas’ character values, you choose whether he has learned astronomy, logic, rhetoric or something else, whether he is familiar with law, theology or medicine, where he grew up and what type of person he is, which of course all affects affects many dialogue options.
They are important because Andreas wants to solve a murder case after his friend Piero was found with a bloody knife next to the victim. That’s why he follows various leads, interviews suspects, collects clues and eventually has to identify a culprit – whether he is really responsible for the crime or not is ultimately up to you. Let me just say that these and other decisions will have consequences for the following adventure!
Of course, in the first chapter not only the final assignment of blame is important, but even before that it is often noted that one of the dialogue partners will remember a dialogue option that has just been selected. That’s why I’m also very grateful that you can read Andreas’ mind before making a decision, to review previous events in order to make a more well-thought-out decision.
How branched out the possible events are and whether the “secret” pursuit of the stone mason would have been completely different or whether I could have left it out altogether, is of course difficult for me to judge after the short demo. Much of this seems to be intended, but the way in which one can set momentous accents in the conversations is just pleasantly open.
Incidentally, I also set such an accent in a mini-game, which was only available separately from the actual demo, but was still extremely interesting. It’s a form of poker, if I interpret it correctly (card games aren’t my specialty), but it’s actually not just about making money. Rather, the four participants also talk to each other, from which important information can be drawn.
In any case, one of the card players eventually asks for a round of beers while chatting to the waitress, which struck me as suspicious. In order not to be cheated, I dropped out of the current round – albeit not without asking the developer present if I was completely on the wrong track. He replied with a very, very meaningful grin and said that he could neither confirm nor deny this. Well, I’m excited!
There are supposed to be more mini-games like this and as I said: Since Sawyer and his team really seem to have succeeded in knitting an interesting and highly amusing detective game around the decisions of their role-playing game, I count this not entirely accurate history lesson among the games, I’m really looking forward to their appearance.