The episodic adventure game genre has had a strong presence in the past 10 years ago, with Telltale paving the way back into the mainstream for what was once considered a dying genre – and one exclusive to PC. Recent examples like The Walking Dead have also been successful on consoles, but it’s the PC where the majority of new adventure games reside. One such example is The Detail by Rival Games, which just wrapped up its first season with the release of episode 3: “Devil in the Detail”.
Taking place in a city filled with gangs, crime and drama, The Detail mimics what we see in many US-produced crime shows. It takes a slightly different approach to the adventure game genre than other games do though – for The Detail is a blend of classic adventure gaming and a presentation that borders on what we see in visual novels. It’s an interesting blend, and one that requires heavy emphasis on good storytelling and character development.
Dialogue in The Detail is merely written out – not voiced, although this is common for indie productions. The writing is excellent though, and keeps its momentum up throughout most of the three episodes. Things start to unwind a little bit near the end when it feels like several plot lines get a rushed conclusion, but all in all it’s an enjoyable story to play through. This is largely thanks to the excellent use of perspective changes – where you take control of different characters and see more than one side to the story.
This also means that choices you make with one character affect what happens to another, and vice versa. You’re not just crafting a destiny for one main protagonist, you’re balancing the fates of several key players in the story. This takes some skilled writing, and Rival Games – for the most part – pulls it off really well.
It’s a shame that the season (and maybe series – a second season hasn’t been announced yet) came to a close so abruptly. The game world that is so carefully set up in these three episodes is worth exploring, and something we’d like to see more of. If you’re a fan of adventure games then this is well worth checking out, especially considering the fact that it can be picked up for a fraction of the cost of some its Telltale cousins. The comic book/visual novel style and quality of the writing make up for a lot of the untapped potential near the end.