GamingReview: The Innsmouth Case

Review: The Innsmouth Case

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It’s time to pack your notepad and detective shades. Robot Pumpkin Games channels their inner H.P. Lovecraft and brings a visual novel experience where your choices matter. Visit Innsmouth in attempt to investigate a missing child and return unscathed. An eerily suspicious small town vibe plagues the atmosphere and it’s only a matter of time before things get real, for lack of a better phrase. If you’re new to the genre, The Innsmouth Case welcomes you with open arms. The text isn’t too dragged out and there are a plethora of endings which yield replay value.

There Goes The Weekend

You play as a rather unkempt, self-employed detective whom gets a last minute case before the weekend comes. You grudgingly accept and leave your home of Boston to investigate the disappearance of a rather strange looking child in the fictional town of Innsmouth. Though you planned to drink and wallow in squalor all weekend, money talks, so off you go.

the characters all look so creepy

Once you arrive, you’ll familiarize yourself with a rather typical “strange people in a small town” atmosphere. Things feel off right from the get go, which makes you feel unwelcomed, yet motivated. There are many places and people to interact with. Shall you check in to your hotel and get that over with? Or maybe head straight to the police station and get to work? Or even meander around town and see what you’ll get yourself into? The choice is yours and one thing will lead to another.

Choose Wisely…

Where The Innsmouth Case really shines is it’s library of locations, responses, and actions in this relatively short story. The town of Innsmouth and its inhabitants feel realized and fleshed out enough. After you step off the bus and into the city limits, the story appears to open vertically at a pretty high level, and a lot becomes available at once. It’s not necessarily drinking through a firehose, but figuring out what to do next seemed to take some consideration. While I praise the verticality of this title, I also feel like it steals a little too much spotlight.

what’ll it be?

It takes a little under two hours to experience the main story. This means that the majority of the gameplay is spent flipping back and forth through previous segments and choosing different options to unlock new endings. This resulted in skipping past a lot of reread text and spacing out a little. It can then become easy to lose interest trying to find all 27 endings. While I don’t disagree with the developers main goal to put so many endings in a short game, I feel like the actual horizontal storytelling may have suffered a bit as a result.

Presentation

The Innsmouth Case feels like reading an actual book, for the most part. The majority of the screen is taken up by the hardback itself with images and text on the right page. The pages turn as the story unfolds. It looks nice, even though roughly half of the screen is actually being used here. While the left side serves a good enough purpose in showing your location, the right side feels a bit empty. What appears to be an Innsmouth postcard is on the table. The developers could have zoomed in a little to expand the pictures and words. The animations and drawings are really well done and I wanted to see them a little bigger to better encapsulate the adventure. Playing this game on a mobile device may not be the best experience.

this can’t be good

The music is, well, music. It serves its place in the background and isn’t intrusive at all. There are crescendos, accents, key changes, etc. to illustrate the mood and align with the ongoing events which is nice, albeit expected. You can turn the volume up, or mute it completely and listen to something else while you play and it won’t make a big difference. The choice is yours (see what I did there?).

Bottom Line

I enjoyed my time with The Innsmouth Case. The pacing is great and the atmosphere is captivating. While I do find that unlocking all endings may cause players to lose interest after some time, it doesn’t take away from my experience with the first couple of playthroughs. The endings I got were quite bizarre and unexpected and for that, I applaud. Spice it up after you finish, and read this story to someone else and let them make the choices.

SUMMARY

+ great overall visual presentation
+ substantial lore and verticality with almost 30 possible endings
+ not too text-heavy in between chapters and choices
- linear story feels rather short
- screen real estate does not feel properly utilized
(Reviewed on Nintendo Switch. Also available on Mac, Windows, IOS, Android)
Wil Raterman
@brgrboii: NYC, boomer shooter enthusiast, Retro junkie, Grenadier, Zoner, Future Publicist, let's talk! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl346Qq5rT5Xa8mN_q_RWzQ

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