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The INNSMOUTH CASE (made with UNITY) by Robot Pumpkin Games & Assemble Entertainment

You are a Private Detective in true Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe style noir.

In your local pub, the Horse & Hooves, which is conveniently situated just across the street from your meagre office, you meet up with the temptress Dahlia Marsh. She resembles an aging film star from the late 40's, although closer inspection she is more likely in her late 40s than from them. She triesd all manner of approaches, finally settling on telling you that she desperately requires your snoopery skills as her 8-year old daughter, Tabitha, has been kidnapped. Intrigued, and in need of financial assistance, you take the case and head off to the remote fishing village of Innsmouth, where you are greeted by blank and eerie stares from just about everyone. In fact it seems that everyone you see seems to know why you are there and are giving you the haunted village looks usually found in Stephen King movies.

In your head you repeat the mantra 'Save the girl, solve the case, survive Innsmouth!' a mantra you have just created but that sounds like the theme of an H.P. Lovecraft story. 

Actually the Innsmouth Case is a stylish interactive book inspired by the fantastical works of horror legend H.P. Lovecraft and requiring a diploma in Q&A. The unique mixture of horror and humour makes this possibly the first scary-comedy-text-adventure of its kind. A game in which every decision counts, and there is far more than one way to successfully solve the case ... or fail miserably! Every decision you make and answer you give changes the way the case evolves.

 

Innsmouth is a Port in Arkham and your initial search for information reveals that the only news reported regularly about Innsmouth concerns missing people, at least you are on your way to the right place!

So your first task is to get to Innsmouth. This isn't the easiest task in the world of Travel. No airport, so planes are out, no train station, yup trains are out too, but luckily for you there is a once-a-week (or once-a-month, at least it's regular) there is a Bus you can take. In fact if you hurry you can catch the next/only Bus. At the Bus Station you approach the Innsmouth Ticket Office which you soon find has more cobwebs than the Demonweb Pits of Lolth. No one is at the counter, at least no-one you can see (or smell) so you call out that you want a ticket to Innsmouth, at which one mysteriously appears. You are then given the options to Leave A Donation, Pay for the Ticket or simply take it for free - whichever you choose you will get the ticket.

 

The Bus journey has just the right amount of eeriness and indifference and by the time you arrive at your destination you are on the edge of your seat waiting for the next penny (or body, or anything) to drop - this is one of those truly weird and unusual bus rides. Innsmouth arrives and as it does you look through the bus windows and see so many statues and references to Fish. First major clue+ something FISHy is going on here ......

You are met off the Bus by a lady with a m ost unusual name; Muriel Poopingplace. She is the Parks Commissioner and also the Chief of Tourism and a one-person Welcoming Committee and Tour Guide.

 

The only Hotel in town is run by its proprietor, Cornelius Gilman III who occasionally works on the Reception desk (and probably does a dozen and one other jobs as well - think Norman Bates). As you arrive to claim your room he is not on reception, in his place is a small green-skinned reject from the Harry Potter movies. Out in the street people (at least you think/hope it is people) stare from behind the safety of their curtained windows. Inside the Hotel you are told that all the rooms are taken, bar one. Unsurprisingly and despite the fact that there is a pegboard totally devoid of any space to hang another key (it is full to the brim with keys)  the goblin spook on reception hands you the key to Room 666.

The game is played by reading and the pages of an ancient book and making informed decisions based on what you know from previous pages, what you have learned on the current page and, unfortunately, what you are allowed to answer - sometimes the instant answer/question that pops into your head after reading the text doesn't formulate in the manner of a possible reply on the page. Thus to an extent you are being led through the book by an unseen person or persons; not necessarily led by the nose, but directed all the same.

 

The Innsmouth Church is under the auspiciouis Order of the Esoteric Order & Dagon (if you are not familiar with H.P.Lovecraft that really is 'Dagon' not a misprint of Dragon.)

Go for a walk. Head to the Church, the Beach or the Lighthouse. The light in the light house doesn't seem to be working and so as doom and gloomy weather approached I am on my way to the Lighthouse.

That's as far as I have got up to the time of writing. I will continue onwards but am not in any hurry to do so.

The 'playing a book' idea isn't new but it is very well done. Answering questions to determine the corse of your adventure is also an old device, but like so many of the other similarly styled games, there is not always an immediate answer to the broched questions. Sometimes there is a possible answer that fits exactly what you were thinking, other times there are answers that all sound wrong or all sound right - decisions, decisions!

You cannot always tell what difference your answers have made and in many cases once you have made a choice you cannot change your mind. You have selected and clicked on a paragraph and the page/s have turned, whether you can get back to that last page is an unsurity as there is no back button.

I find myself intrigued by the way the story comes at me rather than the adventure aspect or the involvement I have in the settings. A missing girl tale is so old fashioned and, rightly so in a game, not a great draw or player pleaser. There is very little animation and nothing exciting, at least up to as far as I have got. Things have happened, but they are always told in the same story-book manner. I often click on what seems to be the daring or devillish answer just to see what occurs but this is so like a Lovecraft book that things you expect to happen don't always happen or at least turn out as you thought they would.

Because there is often a lot of reading per page and then thought as to which answer to follow the trail of, the game can play rather slow-paced, but then if you are going to encounter Cthulhu or his minions you wouldn't want to be running at full tilt straight at him. I can see that Lovecraft aficionados will enjoy the way and manner the story evolves, and the added Cthulhu-like twists and turns should be enough just to keep one off guard. 

Thus if you are looking for an action based adventure with detection and all guns-a-blazing action then look elsewhere as here you will be asking and answering questions from a story-book. If instead you are happy to play detective through the unfolding story of a little lost girl and accept that not all in Innsmouth is as it seems, though you believe there is a logical explanation for everything, then what are you waiting for? 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015