Sometimes it feels like the best gaming ideas are never getting re-explored despite being amazing. Sometimes some game developer thinks the same and re-explores a cool game idea. The Sexy Brutale and Epistory – Typing Chronicles are perfect examples of games that we should have more of.
The Sexy Brutale got quite a lot of praise when it got released, so I had a lot of expectations of it. Which was, perhaps, a bit of a disservice to my experience with the game. The premise is very intriguing – you are locked in the events of one day, happening in a bizarre casino, where all guests are getting murdered one by one by the staff, until the day repeats again from the start with, seemingly, only you being able to change anything. As such, main gameplay usually consists of you seeing someone get murdered, trying to untangle what led to that and then preventing said murder. At least, that’s the intent.
The reality is, sadly, a bit simpler than that. The “challenge” of the game is set up mechanically by basically saying that you can only restart day from the beginning, you can only restart at one of several clocks you have to activate and synchronize with, you cannot be in the same room with any other character (their mask will try to kill you) and you cannot keep any items but 3 special ones when you reset, but you keep all the knowledge (codes, secrets, map markers, people positions at specific point in time, etc). Which sets it up as a Hitman meets Groundhog Day type of deal, except, you always deal with the complex situation of the game that all guests are getting murdered one after the other quickly one step at a time, and most of all solutions are one or two step only. To the point, where I solved more than a half of all murders first try without ever seeing how they will unfold.
It’s not bad, that the game is intuitive, of course, in fact, most people, including myself, will enjoy that. But it also then has moments where you have no clue what game even expects of you, and it also, in the end, feels like a great concept with some great ideas, but ultimately done “Good”, instead of “Great”. Mind you, I loved playing it, and I definitely recommend anyone, especially with any liking to the mystery/detective stories plots, to give it a go. But I feel that such a rare take on an adventure game deserves an even better project. So hey, maybe The Sexy Brutale will be a much needed inspiration for someone.
Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a rare example of a typing game, which is structured not as an educational tool. While it doesn’t give the same weird satisfaction as killing zombies with words in Typing of the Dead games, it provides a pretty fun adventure with Zelda-esque elements, except where all interactions, including killing enemies, is done via typing words. It has puzzles, it has exploration, it has typing and it’s all presented in a really nice looking way as well. Story also exists, but it’s bland and is usually more of a background noise, full of “symbolism”.
What doesn’t work in the game is the fact that the action bits get frustrating and tedious after a while. Every “boss” is an arena, where you need to quickly type words, switching between magic powers (also by typing) to kill enemies until they reach you and touch you, since a single touch means death and a restart of the entire “boss” fight. There’s just way too much of this and not a lot of creativity, despite the game starting with some nice concepts and clear potential to have a bit more puzzle stuff. Also, enemies outside these “boss” fights can spawn inside you if you’re unlucky enough to stand in a wrong place, so that’s also not very well done. Still, it’s a really good game that’s totally worth checking out.