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Scene Investigators Review

Scene Investigators Review

Scene Investigators is a detective game developed by EQ Studios, who you may know from The Painscreek Killings. Set in the near future, you play as a crime scene investigator… in training. You’re not a real one yet, but you’re gonna have to prove you're worthy by going through various recreations of crime scenes that task you with solving the case. What happened? Who was killed? Who was the killer? The answers aren’t gonna be easy to find, but with keen perception, mental sharpness, and some real-life wisdom (and maybe a team of friends) you might be able to solve it.

“Might” is a keyword here because I’m pretty sure the virtual murder victims are rolling in their virtual graves.

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There's more to this tale than meets the eye.

Let’s uh…go through the gameplay mechanics. Scene Investigators lets you wander around in a first-person perspective, allowing you to closely observe items and study the environment. You have a case file with any relevant information like interviews and a report which has questions for you to answer. Your ultimate goal is to get enough right for a passing grade. You will absolutely need to take notes to connect the dots. Luckily, the game does provide a notepad which lets you save on paper. However, I found the use of the notepad finicky at times, sometimes making it harder for me to navigate the menu and observe items, even sometimes causing my camera to drift off if I don’t put my notes down.

Onto the crime scenes themselves. They are fairly detailed with lots of things to notice and study. While it won’t surprise you in terms of fidelity and looks, it will make you mull over each and every detail you may find while investigating. From the obvious muddy and bloody footprints to the subtle position of cups are absolutely necessary in busting a case wide open. There are also a bunch of interactable items scattered around that could help: Maybe a suspiciously burnt spoon, a bag filled with personal items, or a hidden stash of drugs. Not all of it is useful, but something seemingly innocuous can actually be the last puzzle piece. There are definitely moments that make you go “Eureka!” as you figure out a key aspect of the mystery. Like, seriously, there are some really compelling stories that you have to unfold with effort.

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Only 70% of the picture is available. It's up to you to fill in that last 30%.

That being said, it makes me glad I’m not an actual investigator. I am not patient or logical enough to properly play this game. Even in the tutorial case, I crashed and burned trying to figure out who did what in a (relatively) simple robbery. There are no hints or obvious indicators, it’s all up to you to cross-examine the evidence and figure out what exactly happened to cause something like this to happen without falling for the various red herrings… which is exactly what a real investigator will deal with on a daily basis. There is no smoking gun or “murder diary”, Scene Investigators forces you to make assumptions and hope you get it right based on the evidence available. Seriously, the game itself encourages you to step away and mull over the details if you think your deductions are wrong or you aren’t quite getting it. Yeah, it’s hard and frustrating, but it’s so much better than how some games just give you the answers on a silver platter. Here, if you aren’t 100% focused on solving the case, you will fail.

Speaking of failing, what’s better (or worse, depending on your perspective) is that after you submit the report, it does not tell you what you specifically got right. It just tells you the number of deductions you got correct and grades you. What you got wrong and what you got right is up to you to figure out and like any good detective, you can go ahead and give the investigation another crack until you get it 100% right.

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Assume the worst.

Now, I was playing a pre-release version, and I did run into a few glitches as I played but hopefully, they will be resolved upon the full release. As for game design flaws, I would’ve liked it if all the cases had a police report just so I would know what was going on and what I should be looking out for instead of needing to check the questions the game asks of me to answer. I also feel I have to point out that although the game does a lot to go for realism, the body outlines aren’t something the real police do, but for the sake of fairness I’ll allow this break from reality. I at least know that it would make an already difficult puzzle harder to solve.

Scene Investigators absolutely requires the focus and knowledge of at least an amateur investigator to get a passing grade and that’s what makes it engaging, if a little frustrating too. You’ll be mulling over the facts and evidence in and out of the game, looking over your notes, and weeding out any red herrings to ensure that you get it right even if you aren’t 100% sure. Do not use a guide. If you need help, recruit some friends and remember to follow your gut.

8.50/10 8½

Scene Investigators (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Scene Investigators demands the attention of a real investigator, with the determination and knowledge to crack cases open. For the patient and studious, you’ll be greatly rewarded for your efforts.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Dylan Pamintuan

Dylan Pamintuan

Staff Writer

An Australian-born guy whose trying to show everyone why games are awesome.

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