By – Sophie Jones

The Detail Review He

The dead body of a Ukrainian mob boss, Arkany, is found in a back alley with a briefcase full of drugs at his side. From the beginning, this neo-noir graphic adventure tells you that this isn’t going to be like any other homicide. Instead, expect to be thrown headfirst into a gritty crime scene where you chase child molesters, visit traffickers’ houses and try not to get your face burnt in a deep fat-fryer. This isn’t a story for the faint hearted, but if you’re a fan of Miller’s comics and Telltale’s emotional choices then The Detail will disturb and enthral you, as it borrows heavily from both.

The narrative follows the lives of three people who become tied up in the murder case: an aggressive, cynical detective Moore; a rookie beat cop Hayes; and an ex gangster Joe. All the cast are notably stereotypes that you would find in any crime fiction but don’t let that deter you from the game. Through these overlapping dialogues you reveal different sides of the case and experience the world’s depth, from interrogating to casing an apartment to then fetching protection money from a Chinese restaurant (who also deals in torture). By splitting the tale Rival Games are able to enrich their detective drama and make us physically live out some of the consequences as detective Moore’s actions later endanger Joe.

So far, The Detail has two episodes. Like a show you might watch on television, each is about an hour long. Furthermore, the first chapter sets the scene for the story arc whereas the second focuses on another felony which later ties back into the homicide investigation. These entanglements makes for a perfectly gritty drama which will forever keep you on your toes as you try to establish the wider picture. I suspect this concept will persist through the five part series. The only issue with this framework is that each purchased part is exceptionally short and if they aren’t in a bundle the content doesn’t reflect the price tag you’ll end up paying.

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Despite, the rich script and setting, the storytelling can seem a little flat as there are no voice overs present in the game. The soundtrack does a steady job of setting each scene with a slightly out of tune piano but after a while it doesn’t do enough to keep you engaged. The absence of speech leaves a vacuum, so, the cast soon become cut outs and you forget to care about each of their situations or choices as they lack charisma. Likewise, certain acts in the game could have had a poignant impact, if only sound effects had been added, like bullets firing or crying. The deprivation of sound can therefore greatly affect how enjoyable you will find the venture. As I found the style pleasing it was enough to keep me hooked like a good comic would, but for those who want a more immersive, interactive and emotional experience The Detail will miss the spot.

The artistic style was definitely captivating as it imitated some of the great comics like Sin City. As an avid reader I was delighted as the plot unfolded in various strips and new panels were introduced as I clicked to continue. Even when not in a cut scene the game maintained the theme as each location was hand drawn. The soundtrack also helped build an atmosphere as the instruments were rarely played in a way that was “nice on the ears”. Most of the tunes made you feel like you were in a horrible place dealing with horrible people. That being said, not all of them aided in creating tension as some tracks were just aggravating or too intrusive. Alas, even though I was satisfied with many aspects of the design there were a few areas that could do with further work, the bizarre perspectives and clunky animations are examples of elements that need fine tuning. Some of the melodies could also be less jarring.

Even though a lot of clicking is involved in the gameplay I would categorise this game as a graphic adventure as it emphasises the options you choose rather than burdening you with complex puzzles or riddles. In fact, for a murder investigation, the amount of case solving is minimal and effortless. You are guided to each location where all you have to do is click on objects to assess what happened. In Hayes’s sections gameplay does become a bit more exciting as you have timed events but these have so far just amounted to timing your clicks so an arrow slots into its appropriate niche on screen. The play style is therefore focused on your choices and the weight you feel behind them.

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Luckily, the developers have created enough suspense that each choice does feel important. However, after playing through both episodes the decisions I made appear to have no rolling or lasting effect. Apart from a different newspaper article, a new trophy pop, and maybe an extra scene, my judgements got little recognition. Instead, every option always leads back to the same ending result. Due to the lack of cascading consequences throughout the game thus far, I was left slightly disappointed as the only weight they seemed to carry was whether or not I was happy with my character being like that. I am hoping in episode 3 that outcomes from earlier on will be acknowledged but as this didn’t happen in episode 2 I fear this complexity of storytelling won’t be approached.

One aspect of the moral system in the game I enjoyed was present in the end credits. Here you got a list of decisions you made and underneath each one was an actual world statistic about how your actions related. So, in my first play through I roughed up an inmate in interrogation and this was then shown on the final screen with a statistic. Funnily enough, I was told that the number of criminals that endure abuse in the USA has risen but the punishment of officers for their misconduct has stayed the same, it would appear that in this case I had performed an action quite close to reality. I thought this idea was a nice touch.

However, in my second play through some of the choices I had made were not recognised and instead something I hadn’t done was listed. Graphically the settings are simple. You are given a five point gradient scale which runs from minimum to maximum quality, the same scale is also present for lighting. I played the game on the highest setting and faced no framerate dips or issues whilst in game. Nevertheless, upon opting for this setting I did suffer a crash but after reloading the options had been saved and everything worked as normal. The controls were exceptionally easy to master with only the mouse being used to click. A controller can also be used but due to its reactional lag I stuck to KB/M as I could complete Hayes’s timed sections efficiently.

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Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

The Detail is a captivating crime drama that is off to an intriguing start thanks to its writing. However, the game suffers from many drawbacks. Its lack of voices overs and sound effects can cause the atmosphere to plummet and the oddities in the artistic design such as animation and perspectives hinder immersion. The focus on choice is also at fault as the player’s decisions don’t seem to have any impeding consequences. As the going price for each episode is around £4/$5 I wouldn’t advise you to purchase as you only get about 1.30 hours of content, even after replaying. All of its flaws would suggest I pass on this game, but I can’t stop revisiting The Detail.

The Detail Technical Summary:

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  • Time Played – 3 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Game crashed switching to Max settings
  • DRM – Steamworks
  • System Specs – i7-4790K @4 GHz, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 770
  • Control Scheme – KB/M and Controller
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam
  • Demo – No  
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