This case is outside Ferdielance's usual norms, and for multiple reasons. For one, there are no pigeon references that I can find. For those who don't know, when I collaborated with Ferdielance on Phantasmagoria of Betrayal
, the prologue, which was originally supposed to be one of four randomly generated episodes, ballooned into a single path with a pigeon surgery minigame.
The setting is unusually down-to-earth as well: Winfred Kitaki has been shot at his bakery, Wocky is accused of the murder, and Apollo and Trucy need to defend him. A summary like that sells the game short, but I have to highlight that this game is unorthodoxly orthodox. As for why, well...Self-AssessmentMy first weakness is trial segments, and my strength is investigations.
My second weakness is traditional CEs, and my strength is gimmick puzzles.
My third weaknesss is writing stories where there is someone who deliberately kills, and my strength is coming up with accidental deaths that look like murder, or cases where nobody even really dies. This gets predictable.
My fourth weakness is maintaining a single plot thread within a single genre with reasonably consistent tone. My strength is genre-breaking.
I don't need to add much here. I've collaborated with Ferdielance on Phantasmagoria of Betrayal
, helped him test All the Brooks and Soldiers
, played through one of his Endless Nights
games, and played through an Escape the Room game or two. This pattern fits perfectly well, and there was definitely some self-reflection in here. Check!Directness of Practice
Again, all the marks are checked. It's a trial-only case, most of the time is traditional CEs, there is a single plot thread that sticks to the AA genre... It's difficult to evaluate whether this is a case where someone deliberately kills, as the case isn't finished, but all signs point to an actual murder.Degree of Improvement
The overall structure resembles a traditional cross-examination based case. All the big ideas are more or less there and work together. That in itself is huge progress from where Ferdie was before the competition! That said, there is still some progress to be made.
As I've talked about at length
, the normal Takumi structure has blocks of eyewitnesses. What we have is something different. The first three cross-examinations form a block of a different sort altogether. Saying more on this would spoil what I think is one of the best moments of the case. You only see the structure on hindsight, but when the realization hits, (and hit it will) it offers a sudden burst of clarity, much like the canonical cross-examinations at their best. Truly well done, here!
Ferdie is still fighting his tendency towards gimmicks, but seems to be doing quite a lot better! One "cross-examination" is actually a counter cross examination. For those who aren't familiar, a counter cross examination has you object to the cross-examination performed by the prosecution, usually of a defense witness. See Turnabout Executioner
for an example. After clarifying the rules, the counter cross examination is rather simple, which made it feel gimmicky as gameplay. Yes, the counter-CE is justified in-universe, but the gimmick feel remains here. Might I suggest having a more substantial conflict between Klavier and Apollo here, perhaps with some evidence presents? My intuition says that would raise the tension and engage the player just enough to break the gimmick effect.
My instinct says that the feeling Ferdie had that he didn't quite nail the cross-examinations (mentioned when he submitted the entry) is due to not having the reliance on eyewitnesses that characterizes Takumi cases or the reliance on possibility battles that characterize Yamazaki cases. When I ask what characterizes this case, I don't have as clear of an answer. The first three CEs are their own block, as the fourth CE is a block of its own. That said, I think CE structure and organization are good things to experiment with.
I also have to commend Ferdie for realizing
that he overdid the physical evidence, and for the beautiful segue from the last CE that was in the version he gave me to Apollo unraveling the case. This unravel-the-case segment, due to being so late in the game, could have used more testing, but when it's polished, I think this segment has the potential to carry the feel of the "evidence clusters" from the canon games.Miscellaneous
Although I understand why this entry got the level of testing it did before I received it, testing would definitely have benefited the case. There were multiple minor errors that were easy to make, but also unnecessarily obscured some of the puzzles. This ranged from misleading cross-examination hints, a diagram that was difficult to interpret, and a contradictory statement being misworded in a way that made it hard to even interpret. I enjoyed the case, but these mistakes put a damper on it. I've pointed them out to Ferdielance, and I'm hoping this will be fixed in the main release.
Ferdie's comedy remains top notch. The introduction was hilarious, and what seemed like a joke in the early parts of the case became plot-relevant towards the end in a way that made it much funnier than it was the first time! (Hint: He's kind of oblivious.)
Also, Wocky is most definitely telling the truth about seeing the killer.