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The Sexy Brutale Review

The Sexy Brutale Review

Strange things are afoot at The Sexy Brutale. The enigmatic Marquis' annual masked ball is in full swing, but there is an air of unease that permeates the titular casino mansion. One by one the guests are being inexplicably murdered by the staff and it is up to you to solve the case in this fascinatingly bizarre murder mystery.

Our tale begins as Lafcadio Boone, a priest, awakes in The Sexy Brutale and is confronted by a mysterious apparition. Closer inspection reveals the apparition to be that of a bloodied woman. She speaks to Boone and gifts him a mysterious pocket watch that allows him to rewind time to the start of the day. She tells Boone that the staff's minds are being controlled by the masks and it is up to him to solve the mystery. Boone has to relive the same day repeatedly in order to solve the mystery of The Sexy Brutale.

The story that unfolds over the eight to ten-hour play through is a fiendish and macabre twist on Groundhog Day. Players familiar with The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask will be familiar with this setup. However, the games play very differently to each other. The Sexy Brutale uses the time manipulation mechanics of Majora's Mask, the observational gameplay of the PlayStation 2 cult classic Gregory Horror Show, and combines it with the puzzle solving of famed LucasArts puzzle games such as Grim Fandango.

Your role as Boone is essentially that of a voyeur: you observe the guests routines through keyholes, cupboards, and by sound in order to figure out how they have been killed. You eavesdrop on conversations, track guest's movements, and observe their daily behaviour patterns. This level of scrutiny pulls you into their individual stories and causes you to care about these flawed, broken, yet innocent characters. Once you have witnessed the murder, it is up to you to figure out how to stop it.

The solution could be as simple as replacing a live bullet with a blank or could involve using a myriad of items you collect throughout the day. However, once the day has been reset all the items, apart from certain key items, are taken from your inventory and placed back into the mansion. Fortunately, Boone retains knowledge of any secrets that he has learned throughout the day. Thankfully, the item system fits into the overall structure of the game rather than becoming an annoyance. Once the solution has been found, a desperate race against time ensues to gather all the required items to prevent the murder. Some of the later puzzles will certainly test both your time management skills and your knowledge of the mansion's layout, resulting in some frantic - yet thrilling - moments.

Cavalier Game Studios have designed The Sexy Brutale with a confidence and swagger that belies its indie status. It should come as no surprise that the studio is made up of ex Lionhead Studios staffers. The stylised art direction is excellent, the characters are well animated, and the mansion is beautifully realised. There has been a great deal of care and attention lavished upon the titular mansion, so much so, that it feels like a character in its own right. The narrow passages and opulent art deco style blend together wonderfully to create a living diorama. Monolithic gold statues and opulent works of art hung on the walls contrast beautifully with the malevolent forces at work inside the mansion.

The sound design is also exceptional. The sound effects and audio cues required to solve the crimes are expertly blended into the ambient background noise of the house. They provide an uneasy soundscape that initially isn't obvious to the untrained ear but expertly reveals itself over time. The score composed by Matt Bonham, Tim Cotteral, Tom Puttick and Phil French is exquisitely crafted and complements the game perfectly. The opening theme is a 1930s jazz infused dance number which really draws you in from the start, setting the scene perfectly for the events that are about to unfold. You can almost picture the dice rolling and the roulette wheels turning inside the casino. Sombre organ based tracks add a haunting sympathy to some of the murders whilst upbeat dance numbers add urgency when running to solve a crime. Each track has been expertly composed, reflecting the many shades and mysteries found within the mansion.

The Sexy Brutale is a delectable slice of murder and mystery. The exquisite art design, twisted puzzles, and excellent audio design combines to create a truly memorable experience. The unique setting and thoughtful tale will remain in the memory long after the case has been closed.

8.50/10 8½

The Sexy Brutale (Reviewed on PC)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

The Sexy Brutale is a delectable slice of murder and mystery. The exquisite art design, twisted puzzles, and excellent audio design combines to create a truly memorable experience. The unique setting and thoughtful tale will remain in the memory long after the case has been closed.

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

Mark "Mr Black" Brearley

Staff Writer

Lover of the 80s and vests

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