"While the demo I played was brief, it offered enough to whet my curiosity."
Those who've read my The Wolf Among Us reviews know that I'm slowly becoming devoted to the noir genre. Though I hadn't explored this style in the past, I'm engrossing myself evermore into these worlds. The Detail is helping me do just that. An adventure game set in a city in which criminals potentially reign over the law, Reggie, a no-nonsense officer, finds himself at the prelude of what could be a prolonged gang war after finding a leader shot in the head under a bridge.
At its onset, The Detail features haste-driven gameplay as players follow two police officers into the home of a child molester. Do you kick down the door or pick the lock? Which doors do you check? All the while, a child is heard--or read--screaming. When the perpetrator is discovered, child whimpering in the corner, the officers bring him in--or do they? Inundated with choices as I was, I can easily imagine the story unfolding a few different ways, although I was unable to test that theory.
The opening scene features stark black and white illustrations with no shading. This immediately sets The Detail in a comic book, combined with quick-shifting still images and screams in big block lettering. Although the omission of sound is immediately apparent, this doesn't necessarily impact the experience negatively. Although speedy in its intro, The Detail slows down as it asks players to make increasingly difficult decisions with no clear right or wrong choices. In this way, The Detail maintains the moral ambiguity so popular in storytelling these days.
Without giving away too much, investigating crime scenes functions as one might expect from a point-and-click adventure game. Sleuthing and picking up clues seems less player-driven and more like the game stringing you along, but these are initial impressions of a game still in development. The dialogue seeps with clichéd noir dialogue, sometimes at The Detail's expense. While the few characters feel distinct from one another, I didn't experience enough to make a complete judgment.
Although The Detail lacks much in the way of sound, its artistic style is satisfying, as it maintains a distinct comic book feel. The quality of the drawing seems to falter here and there, but it never took me out of the story. In terms of control, I didn't encounter any bugs or points of frustration. If The Detail can maintain this level of precision and presentation, then its eventual release on Steam will satisfy its would-be fans.
The Detail certainly has room for growth and strengths to build upon. While the demo I played was brief, it offered enough to whet my curiosity. Full of mystery and intrigue, all I can think about is Reggie sitting in a 1920's private investigator's office, smoldering cigarette crumpled in an ashtray while a fan slowly spins overhead--except that this game is set in present day and Reggie isn't a PI. So don that fedora and show us what The Detail has to offer, Rival Games.