Lord Winklebottom Investigates – Review
Follow Genre: Point-and-click adventure
Developer: Cave Monsters
Publisher: Wings
Platform: Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Lord Winklebottom Investigates – Review

Site Score
7.8
Good: Utterly charmingly written story
Bad: Game feels a bit overpriced for how short it is
User Score
9.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)

A couple of years ago, we stumbled upon Aviary Attorney, an indie game that parodied the Ace Attorney series and presented players with the task of solving crimes featuring anthropomorphic animals in the Victorian era. We absolutely adored that game, although it was a niche title that flew under many a gamer’s radars. As such, we were absolutely delighted when we learned about Lord Winklebottom Investigates, a new game from indie developer Cave Monsters, which follows a similar premise. Rather than Aviary Attorney’s visual novel gameplay, royalty-free music, and illustrations from the public domain, Lord Winklebottom Investigates offers up a point-and-click adventure with full voice acting and gorgeous original artwork.

Story

Set in an alternate version of Victorian-era London, Lord Winklebottom Investigates introduces us to the titular Lord Winklebottom and his assistant, doctor Frumple. These thinly veiled pastiches of their much more famous human counterparts, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Of course, we have to address the elephant in the room -the metaphorical one, although there are literal elephants here as well- and that is that all the characters in Lord Winklebottom Investigates are animals. Lord Winklebottom himself is a giraffe and doctor Frumple is a hippopotamus. They are tasked with investigating the murder of lord Gilfrey, an axolotl who happens to be an old friend of Winklebottom himself.

What unfolds then is an intriguing and utterly charming adventure that sees the titular detective stumble his way through the murder case. We’ll refrain from posting spoilers, but rest assured that there are a couple of twists and turns along the way. We were fans of the overall atmosphere of the writing, and although not every joke hit the mark, there were a couple of fantastic laugh-out-loud moments here. The “axe a lot…l” joke below is a perfect example of the type of humor you can expect here, and if this elicits a chuckle from you, then you’ll absolutely adore what the game brings to the table.

Graphics

One of the things that immediately drew us into Lord Winklebottom Investigates was the beautiful hand-drawn art style. Both the character designs and the backgrounds look fantastic, although we did feel like animations were very limited. Most of the characters are presented through a single illustration with only the barest minimum of movement applied to prevent things from looking too static. It doesn’t detract too much from the gameplay, but more variety would have been welcome here. Of course, having limited animation means that the game isn’t too taxing on hardware and you shouldn’t encounter any visual issues during your time with it.

Sound

We have mixed feelings about Lord Winklebottom Investigates’ soundscape. On the one hand, the game is fully voice-acted, something we can only applaud. On the other hand, the voice acting itself is of mixed quality at best. Some characters, such as doctor Frumple himself are highlights, and we can chalk up Lord Winklebottom’s voice performance to him being a timid character, but other cast members deliver their lines in a very uninspired manner. We also have to mention that the first voice effect you hear is a blood-curdling scream, coming from lord Gilfrey’s goat maid. While undoubtedly a reference to the screaming goat meme, the sound was far more irritating than funny. Music and sound effects were pleasant, if a little unremarkable.

Gameplay

The main attraction of Lord Winklebottom Investigates lies entirely within its premise. If the idea of investigating a murder as a giraffe detective in old-timey England is something that tickles your fancy, you’re absolutely going to love what’s present here, and innovative gameplay immediately becomes an afterthought. Of course, a game needs to be functional, and Lord Winklebottom Investigates certainly delivers on that front. What you’re getting here is a very standard point-and-click adventure that perhaps plays it a bit too safe when it comes to puzzles. There is nothing innovative or new about what the game has to offer in terms of gameplay, but this is one of the rare cases where we didn’t really feel the need for the developer to stray away too much from the traditional point-and-click formula.

Admittedly, Lord Winklebottom Investigates adds a very simple but very efficient improvement to classic point-and-click gameplay: specific objects only become clickable (or even re-clickable) after you’ve done something specific, whether it’s talking to an NPC or simply interacting with another object. This minor change adds a degree of realism to the flow of the story, even though it took us a few minutes to realize this when we first encountered it, as we had been conditioned by previous point-and-click titles that don’t follow the same logic. Once we fully grasped the idea behind this, the game became more enjoyable. Lord Winklebottom Investigates definitely isn’t a difficult point-and-click game as long as you follow the internal logic. We’d say this is a good thing as it gave us plenty of room to enjoy the world-building, the quirky cast of characters, and the stylish humor.

Of course, a good point-and-click game isn’t just limited to talking to NPCs and interacting with objects. The other main gameplay aspect that defines how enjoyable the experience is comes in the form of the game’s actual puzzles. We can imagine that this is where Lord Winklebottom Investigates is going to be somewhat divisive, as the puzzles are on the easier end of the spectrum, and anyone looking for a challenge will end up disappointed. The items you need to complete a puzzle are typically hidden in plain sight, in the same location as the puzzle, and in the unlikely event that you do get stuck, you can simply ask doctor Frumple for a hint by clicking on his teacup. Now, we are fans of getting our teeth stuck into a challenging point-and-click game in the vein of what Daedalic Games typically offers, and if we were to look at Lord Winklebottom Investigates from a pure gameplay perspective, then we’d agree that the game’s puzzles are underwhelming. However, what the game lacks in challenge, it more than makes up for in atmosphere and charm, and we actually enjoyed the relaxing change of pace that a less difficult title had to offer.

The only real issue we had with the game was that there was no option to adjust pointer sensitivity. Lord Winklebottom Investigates is available on a variety of platforms, including PC, and navigating the pointer across the screen using a controller stick felt a bit awkward at times, especially when we tried to interact with some of the smaller clickable objects. This is something that is not going to be an issue on PC, of course, but if you are going to play this game on console, then it is something you should be aware of. We should also point out that the game is on the short side and takes roughly three hours to complete. That does mean that you’re not getting a whole lot of bang for your buck compared to other games in the same price range, but in this case, it’s a matter of quality over quantity.

Conclusion

If you’re like us and enjoy quirky detective games that ooze charm, then you could do a lot worse than picking up Lord Winklebottom Investigates. It’s a short but sweet title that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face with its charming atmosphere and laid-back gameplay. We do recommend waiting for a discount as the full price seems a tad steep for the amount of content you’re getting here. Still, as a debut title for developer Cave Monsters, Lord Winklebottom Investigates is a fantastic showcase of their potential as immersive storytellers and we highly recommend checking the game out.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)
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Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
Lord Winklebottom Investigates - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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