It’s the perfect time to don your deerstalker, recruit a witty sidekick, and delve into the world of crime (from the safety of your sofa, of course). Between gritty detective noirs, government conspiracies, and sci-fi cyberpunk mysteries, 2019 holds a handful of unique detective games created by indie devs for you to explore.
At first glance, Disco Elysium seems like a classic detective noir, following the story of a disgraced detective. Take a closer look, and you’ll find that this isometric RPG adds a hefty dose of ridiculousness to its gritty undertones. Set in urban Revachol – a town brimming with crime and corruption – the developers ZA/UM have utilised traditional RPG levelling and skill systems, giving you greater freedom over your character.
I had the chance to play a demo at EGX Rezzed earlier this year, and began my adventure with a truly testing objective: find my trousers. Disco Elysium will make you chuckle, regardless of whether you serve justice in the end.
As a journalist in 1987 England, The Occupation begins with you investigating a suspicious explosion, as game events unfold in real-time. A government conspiracy is seemingly driving oppressive new legislation, and time is against you – potential clues and sources of information will disappear if you fail to manage your time, with limited opportunities to uncover the truth.
The art style is reminiscent of 2018’s action adventure We Happy Few. With a similar first-person perspective, you can snoop around restricted areas to find clues, or persuade NPCs to give up information. The Occupation has been delayed to release on March 5th 2019, and will be available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Subverting the mystery genre, you’re just a driver working in the cyberpunk streets of Los Ojos. When your friend goes missing, it’s your job to find her, using your cab to talk to passengers and discover new clues. In a world drenched in neon, Neo Cab is bolstered by diverse character arcs and a procedurally-generated urban environment.
What’s truly unique about Neo Cab are its emotion-driven mechanics – alongside your income, your cab’s star rating, and your friend’s life, it’s equally as important to manage the human needs of protagonist Lina. It’s set to release on February 5th, and will be available on PC & Mac.
Update: Neo Cab will also be coming to the Nintendo Switch later in 2019.
In The Valley Of Gods
Campo Santo’s narrative thriller looks like a mashup of Tintin and Indiana Jones in the 1920s, brought to life by the same suspense we saw in Firewatch. Ancient ruins frame a perfect backdrop of myths and legends to heighten your paranoia, ready for those heart-dropping moments when you realise the stories could be true…
From what we’ve seen in the trailer, the game looks and sounds gorgeous; with fluid animations, great sandy vistas, and what is sure to be an incredible soundtrack. Scheduled for a release sometime in 2019 on PC and Mac, but may also be available later on consoles.
For a less gritty detective experience, fans of the Nancy Drew archetype should keep an eye out for Jenny LeClue. With a diverse cast of NPCs and a vintage handmade art style, this looks to be a unique take on life as a teen detective.
In the small town of Arthurton, Jenny’s dreams of a real adventure are somewhat twisted when her mother is accused of murder. With an ambitious level of interactivity in the cartoonish world design, its up to players to solve the mystery and connect different clues; choose wrong, and that has an effect on the world. A playable teaser is available on the game’s website.
Tick Tock: A Tale For Two
Sometimes, a mystery takes more than one mind to solve. Tick Tock: A Tale For Two is the perfect two-player adventure for you and your sidekick, inspired by escape rooms to present a formidable challenge.
Gameplay consists of solving puzzles between two players, with communication a top priority – to escape, you’ll have to work together, combining the information available to you both. Look out for Tick Tock: A Tale For Two in early 2019 on PC and mobile.
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