Welcome to the review for The Detail Ep 3: Devil in the Detail, from independent developer Rival Games. That VideoGame Blog covered Ep 1: Where The Dead Lie already, so I’ll be picking up where that left off. I did play through Episode 1 to get a basis for where Episode 3 would take us. Lately, it seems I’ve been gravitating to the episodic, story-driven games. A lot of this has to do with Telltale Games and their The Walking Dead series, but also other games like Oxenfree and Firewatch. The Detail is no exception.
The Detail bares an aesthetic and gameplay similarity to The Walking Dead—from the graphic novel artwork, to allowing the player the ability to make decisions that ultimately change how the story plays out. As with any game centered around the story, the writing is strong and compelling, tense and thrilling. Because we play as a noir-esque detective, it heavily reminded me of Heavy Rain (pun intended).
The episodes are short, but not so short you feel as though you didn’t get your money’s worth. Keep in mind, you can’t play each episode independently. They must be played one after another. So, in order to get to Episode 3, you’ll need to invest in Episode 1 and 2, a good opportunity to gauge if the games are your style before committing to the entire series.
Picking up where Episode 2: left off, Devil in the Detail follows three main characters that you switch between as the main point of views telling the story—we meet detective Reggie Moore first, then Joe Miller, his informant, and finally fellow officer Katelyn Hayes. Though other characters make an appearance, these are the three we follow around. We see the story interpreted through their POV, biases, etc., though we have all the information that they don’t. And, guess what? We’re the ones ultimately making the big decisions.
Cue “jinglebells” because it’s Christmas time. The falling white snow against an otherwise black and gray backdrop feels like a breath of fresh air. But all of this is set against the harsh reality that there’s a local prostitution ring hard at work in the background, and what’s worse? They’re killing of the competition.
In a true cop vs. robber format, since we’re playing the protagonist, and they’re part of the police force, our antagonistic enemy becomes this group of individuals, whoring our women and killing to maintain their turf. But we don’t need much more than that. The Detail thrives on this pre-established right vs. wrong; good vs. evil; and, like I mentioned, cop vs. robber.
There are many decision opportunities throughout the game, some in the form of dialogue, others as simple as do you choose the door on the right or the door on the left? As with any decision-making games, there’s a limit to how much your choice effects the game, but The Detail does a good job making these decisions feel important and on a time constraint. If you don’t act fast enough, that could be a matter of life or death. Not only for you… but for someone else.
We don’t have an opportunity to critique things like voice acting, because—in true graphic novel fashion—there were none. The game gives you cues to read, things like bam! or smash! in addition to the dialogue on screen, so you’re, quite literally, relying on your imagination to fill in the details. It’s a bold move, Cotton. But for The Detail it definitely pays off. That means there’s less of a distraction from the story itself, and more of a focus on the writing.
Games don’t always have to be Bethesda-length and scope to be enjoyable. Sometimes you only have a few hours and want to fully wrap up a storyline. That’s where this episodic trend from indie developers fills a niche, and I look forward to more from Rival Games.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Justice, Wrapped Up In Time For Christmas
Graphics - 8/10
Gameplay - 6/10
Story - 8/10
+ A satisfying ending to the three episode series
+ Multiple POV allows for a well-rounded story
– Not all decisions made seem to matter