Detective Case and Clown Bot in: The Express Killer – Review
Follow Genre: Classic Point-and-click, Text adventure
Developer: Nerd Monkeys
Publisher: Nerd Monkeys
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
Tested on: PC

Detective Case and Clown Bot in: The Express Killer – Review

Site Score
6.7
Good: Very good retro looks with original music
Bad: A bit over the top in bad humor, not much actual gameplay.
User Score
7.7
(10 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.7/10 (10 votes cast)

Detective Case and Clown Bot are a comical retro duo that couldn’t be much closer to the good old point-and-click and text adventure games of old. The first game in what seems to be a series now was called Detective Case and Clown Bot in: Murder in the Hotel Lisbon. It received many positive reviews, so a second game seems to be no surprise. This time, no hotel, but a train where people mysteriously get killed.. 

Story

First things first. Detective Case and Clown Bot is definitely something special, but the style of writing and humor might be one of the bigger issues for people playing the game. At times, it can even get a bit annoying. To clarify this, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. It even enhances this approach by i.e. making the game a theater stage for some reason, where quite often an audience will pop up and laugh or make other noises similar to a sitcom series. At some point, it might feel like it’s actually done to irritate you rather than to amuse you. There’s more stuff like this throughout the game that’s on the edge of funny and annoying depending what you find funny.

Anyways, the game starts (on a stage) as detective Case wakes up like in a classic noir novel. Hungover, amidst a messy room. Soon he finds his buddy Clown Bot in the room, and shortly after that, he gets an offer for a new case to solve. It seems that people are dying on a train, and for some reason Case and his sidekick were the first thing that popped into the mind of police officer Garcia, a friend of Case’s. As useless as the detective and Clown Bot seem to be at times, at least they had their experience with the Murder in the Hotel Lisbon, so..

A lot of the story is very linear. You go from point A to B like reading a visual novel. That’s the best comparison for the game as well. It’s more of an interactive visual novel that has a fun story prepared for you. In terms of gameplay, there’s not that much to do except following clicks around. This gets enhanced by the fact that most of the background (after the introduction) takes place in the train where the killing took place. There are a few short cinematics, but most of the story and information will be given by loads of text in a retro pixelated comic style.

Graphics

The entire graphical style is done in an old-school pixelated retro style. It really reminds you of the golden point-and-click age with games such as Leisure Suit Larry and Monkey Island. And there’s no denying, Detective Case and Clown Bot in: The Express Killer absolutely nails it in that perspective. There’s nothing bad to say about any of it. The only small thing, just maybe, is that whatever cutscenes are being used are rather simplistic, even for a retro pixelated style. Still, that doesn’t compare to the phenomenal job the game has done in recreating that nostalgia that some developers can only dream of.

Sound

Like most games back in the days, the game mostly uses background music and a few sound effects. There’s is no voice-over present, and it’s all rather fitting for that nostalgic feeling that the graphics already put in place. Plus, in this case, the background track actually adds something unique to the game. Everything is covered in jazz. It’s something that fits a detective story, and it’s oddly satisfying at some parts. The urban notes that either make the scene more interesting or follow up on the situation such as a train speeding up are an enrichment, a part where the game shows it’s not afraid to do something different and be unique in that aspect.

Gameplay

Detective Case and Clown Bot in: The Express Killer is a retro point-and-click game where you follow the detective duo around to solve the mystery of the Express Killer. everything in the game has its roots in games from the early 90s, yet when looking at gameplay elements, a large part has been left out that’s rather common for the classics. You can’t interact with items, or let items interact with the environment. The entire game is more like a search-for-items-in-each-scene type of game. As soon as you pick up a single item or the required item to continue, you will have to search for the right person or room where a new option is made available. This is probably the game’s biggest bummer, cause it destroys the sense of agency and a large part of puzzle gameplay that could have made playing more exciting. Now, you mostly have the story to follow. Luckily, at least the game has some other form of gameplay than reading and searching the environment for pixelated objects.

For one, you”ve got moments when you can question subjects about the items you found and the stories they told you. It’s not a hard thing to do, nor can you really fail it, but it offers something different than the walking, talking and looking for objects in each scene. The real variation though lies within the mini-games that sadly are just a few. These mini-games are more what you would expect from an interactive point-and-click adventure, offering stuff such as what’s essentially a jigsaw puzzle placing teeth and a game of Simon Says with one of the train passengers.

Even with the few mini-games, overall the game doesn’t offer enough variation to feel fulfilled after the few hours it take to complete the story. There’s a specific quest where you need to collect teeth for the earlier named jigsaw-like puzzle that takes the most time and can be infuriatingly boring, and will probably consume most unwanted time for players. If you don’t count that quest, you could probably be done in about three hours time. It’s not a bad element for a game to be a bit shorter, but the shorter it is, the more you expect it to be special and amusing as long as you are playing.

Conclusion

Detective Case and Clown Bot in: The Express Killer is a rather unique game when looking at it as a modern retro release. It’s as delightfully weird as it is terrible in pushing its humor in your face at times. The gameplay is rather monotone and you will probably continue it to figure out more of the story, and even though the mini-games offer some relieve from staring yourself blind on pixels and possible cracks in the scene to find what you need to continue, it’s not enough to make it a great game. It’s fair to say that its graphics are the best thing, the sound is the most unique, and the gameplay is mediocre.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.7/10 (10 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
Detective Case and Clown Bot in: The Express Killer - Review, 7.7 out of 10 based on 10 ratings
Pim Hoogeveen
Pim Hoogeveen


No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.