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Chinatown Detective Agency Review

Chinatown Detective Agency Review

Chinatown Detective Agency begins in Singapore 2036, where we see a man running through the neighbourhood while the narrator tells the story of how man wants to create a tribute of his likeness, an executor of his commands — but the creation doesn’t see the brilliance of the humans, only corruptions, and it dreams of a world that is untainted by man. We see a large explosion, then the scene changes and we see Amira Darma. Amira is a private investigator who has opened up her own business; she was a member of the police force for eight years but wanted to get away from that life, so now is her chance to make a living investigating cases on her own. Justin Koh, her former boss, has come to check out the new office and inform Amira about the first potential client he has for her.

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This will be the first case of many that you, as Amira, will work on. The first mystery you will have to solve is the client's cryptic message. He doesn’t want to meet in a public location so he picked a secret spot at night for the two of them to discuss the case. Amira recognises the quote and she knows that the location will be under the Bodhi tree, from there it is up to you to figure out the rest using the helpful tools at your disposal.

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The game has a graphical user interface that is visible the whole time you are playing. On the left there is a phone that has a screen that displays who is calling, a box that shows text messages you have received, and news alerts. Along the bottom you see the balance of your bank account, and several buttons: map, which shows the location of places you can visit in town; HORUS, the place where you book flights; wait, which makes time go by faster (which is especially useful if you have to wait hours for your flight); web, which opens up a browser on your computer for you to do research for your clues; and settings. The case name and its mission log are also displayed along the bottom and it shows you everything you have learned about this case. 

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To figure out where to go next I suggest clicking on the map; this will show you all the different places in town you can visit to find the Bodhi tree. Once you find the location you want to check out, just click on it and you will be taken there. Some of the places you visit will have security systems that will require you to hack them to get past; the systems have a circle that will fill up every time you have a wrong guess, once you fill that ring you will have to start the puzzle over again, and to make things worse you will be fined. The puzzles resemble a memory game where you try to match the pieces; be careful with your guesses, and keep track to make sure you are successful in your hacking attempt.

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The different cases you are trying to solve will take you not only around Singapore, but to different locales all over the world. One of the cases requires you to identify the countries that different stamps came from in order to return them to a museum in their home country; you will have to use your web browser to figure out where they are originally from and take them back. I love how when clicking on the web button, your browser pops up, it makes sense to do research on the internet since that is exactly what you would do in real life.

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Chinatown Detective Agency has a detailed pixel look in everything except for the faces of the characters. Instead, in the speech box there is a painted portrait of the person speaking. These are very well done and contrast well with the simplicity of the people. The locations you visit look great and each has their own personality and soundtrack to match. While you are in your main office the music is upbeat and exciting; it feels like it was chosen to motivate you to keep on working on your mission.

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Chinatown Detective Agency does a good job letting players figure out the leads and information given to them on their own. Once you learn the basics on how each of the resources on your screen works, you take the lead. I love how when the game introduces what to do in a shootout situation, when diplomacy doesn’t work, they suggesting that you aim for the hand or arm to disarm the hostile person. Though if you take too long to aim and the time runs out the game automatically kills the target. I’m sure if you wanted to you could shoot to kill, but I’m too nice and I would feel bad. One of my favourite parts was having to solve ciphers on my own; I loved writing letters in a secret code as a kid to my friends and having to figure out the message no one else could understand was so much fun — this game made me feel like a secret agent again.

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If you are a person who loves solving mysteries and finding clues, Chinatown Detective Agency will definitely be a game of interest. To me this feels like an adult and updated version of a title from the Carmen Sandiego series, without the campy characters. Plus you have a gun and shoot-outs, which you definitely did not experience in those. There were a few leads that were tricky to research even with the internet, but overall the difficulty wasn’t impossible. You might be wondering what these cases all have to do with the crazy opening cinematic the game opens with? I won't spoil anything but it's definitely worth finding out for yourself!

9.00/10 9

Chinatown Detective Agency (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Chinatown Detective Agency is a title that anyone who loves taking on the role of a gumshoe in a futuristic, pixelated world will enjoy. With clues, ciphers, and other mysteries to solve, this title will make you use your brain and challenge you!

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alana Dunitz

Alana Dunitz

Staff Writer

Lover of all games, old and new!

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