Case Files: The Death of Paulette Williams is the latest live-action game release from Think Ten Media Group, and it’s a game that’s likely to appeal to a somewhat niche audience. If you’re a fan of your informative murder porn type games and shows a la CSI, Phoenix Wright or Law & Order, then this is likely to be right up your alley.
The premise is simple enough. You, the player, assist Detective Martin Ruiz (Ramon Hamilton) in a series of interviews, attempting to understand the mysterious death of Paulette Williams. Was Paulette’s daughter, Samantha Williams (Jaclyn Gest) involved? Was it maybe something to do with the daughter’s husband Elliot Jordan (Evan Marez)? Maybe it was all just some tragic mistake? Or maybe it was an attempt to cash in on a fat life insurance policy… You must watch the interviews as they play out in real time, and then guide the detective in the approach he should take. Does he keep his questioning nice and easy? Does he apply pressure? Does he reveal one individual’s secrets that the other might not be aware of? The way things play out is up to you.
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To accomplish your task, you’re given both a whiteboard and a notebook where you can make notes, as well as some additional information about the suspects. Then you’re set loose to do the best you can. After each interview segment the Detective will call you with his thoughts, and then you’ll be given the choice of how he will behave in the next round of questioning. Between each interview, you can review the previous video to make sure there’s nothing you missed, some bit of incriminating body language or an inconsistency in their story.
And that’s really it! The gameplay is as simple as it gets. Watch the videos, take down any notes you want, review the videos if you like, make your choice and start the next interview. A playthrough, even with time to sit and mull things over, will easily take about 90 minutes. That seems short, but that 90 minutes got us to only one of at least 6 different endings, so there’s a fair chunk of replay value here. In fact, this is the sort of game we’d suggest is great for couch co-op or party play with budding like-minded investigators. Talk out each interview, bounce possible ideas and motives off each other, puzzle over every little furtive squirm or fidget or stutter.
Think Ten has a couple of games under their belt now, with two other similar narrative-type games created for VR. In terms of presentation, they’re no EA or CD Projekt Red and it shows. The graphics of the game could charitably be described as ‘serviceable’, but once you get into the story, you stop paying attention to them as anything but a tool to get the job done.
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A playthrough time of 90 minutes would usually raise eyebrows, but with at least five other endings to find, there’s plenty of replay value here. There’s also the sticker price to take into account. This game will cost a mere $9.99, which will also be discounted by 20% when it initially launches on Steam. At less than you’d pay for a takeaway meal, and with plenty of twists and turns for players to discover, this is a solid effort from Think Ten and hopefully there will be more games in this series coming in the future.
Case Files: The Death of Paulette Williams is available on Steam from 26th October.