The Sexy Brutale: Groundhog Day Meets Clue | A Short Pause Review
2017 has been firing on all cylinders in the gaming world so far. Blockbuster AAA hit after blockbuster AAA hit continue to score big with gamers and critics alike, and this trend looks to continue throughout the remainder of this year. From Yakuza 0 to Halo Wars 2 to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it can be exhausting (but fun!) dropping dozens upon dozens of hours into the wealth of top notch titles that have hit store shelves (and our backlogs) throughout the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, independent releases are making just as strong a case for attention from the gaming public in 2017. One of these titles is The Sexy Brutale. This game found itself on my radar several months ago. I was intrigued by its striking art style and unique premise which looks to blend the living nightmare of Groundhog Day with exciting murder-solving elements akin to Clue. While many out there are currently singing the praises of the big dogs like Persona 5 and Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Sexy Brutale deserves to be included in that conversation, too.
Tale of the Tape
Title: The Sexy Brutale
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Developer: Tequila Works & Cavalier Game Studios
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
The Sexy Brutale Casino Mansion is hosting a masquerade ball one fine Saturday evening, when things begin to go horribly wrong. Guests are being murdered by the staff and the host, Lucas, is nowhere to be found. Amongst the guests is Lafcadio Boone, a preacher who awakens to find his mask bearing a curse from the enigmatic Bloody Lady, forcing him to relive this horrifying day again and again. It's up to Boone to figure out how to save each of the mansion’s guests from a gruesome demise, while also discovering the secrets The Sexy Brutale bears in order to free himself of this horrible situation he finds himself trapped within.
The mysterious Bloody Lady wastes no time showing Boone the ropes. After awakening in a room in the mansion’s chapel, he has a mere handful of hours to save The Sexy Brutale’s first guest - Reginald Sixpence - from being blown away with a shotgun at the altar. During this race against the clock, players will learn all of the mechanics necessary to save each of the victims Boone will encounter across the mansion. Because Boone needs to stay out of sight of both the killers and the victims, you must rely on peeking through keyholes or hiding in dressers to find clues that lead to discovering objects in the environment with which to manipulate and, ultimately, save each guest. If Boone finds himself in the same room as any other character, he'll promptly be chased out by that individual’s mask. You won’t be caught completely off guard, though; Boone's mask emits a red glow when he approaches a door to a room currently occupied by someone else.
As Boone saves each guest, they remove their mask and casually stroll away. The Bloody Lady will then appear and instruct Boone to pick up the discarded mask as it will grant him new abilities, allowing him to access new locations and interactive items throughout the mansion. In addition to being able to access new rooms and areas, these abilities will also help players pick-up the game’s collectibles, which consist of 52 playing cards scattered around the mansion and the 9 invites for each of the guests. Collectibles here are fitting and fill in much of the lore about not only the guests, but the mansion's various areas as well.
While the tutorial murder is a basic affair with a straightforward solution, many of the game’s subsequent murder puzzles are much more intricate and require more thought than simply loading a blank round into a gun. These murders provide some of the coolest puzzles in the game as you figure out how to utilize items or information picked up from the various characters you’re following around. I didn't find myself banging my head against a puzzle for too long and, while the solution isn't always obvious, exploring the different areas looking for clues never wore out its welcome over the course of my 10 hours at the party.
The various rooms and areas of the mansion are simply marvelous from an art style perspective. Tequilla Works and Cavalier have clearly crafted each location inside of The Sexy Brutale with love and care. Each room has a unique feel and is just as rich with stories to tell as the characters themselves. From a grimly lit bell tower to a lavish theater, every area is bursting with style and character for players to take in while searching for clues. Fleshing out these wonderful environments even more so is the swanky soundtrack that you may find yourself humming along to as you’re saving a guest in the bar.
While the gameplay and the excellent story are firing on all cylinders, sadly, The Sexy Brutale isn't without its faults. During my time with the Xbox One version of the game, I ran into many instances in which the game would hitch up as I went from one room to another. At first, I didn't mind it that much, but as I kept playing and experiencing the same issues, it began to hinder my enjoyment just a tad. There were even several occasions where someone would enter a room I was searching and my attempts to leave the room went ignored as I frantically pressed the A button to open a door as the other person’s mask hovered towards me. These moments are a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, but they were definitely prevalent enough to have an impact on my overall enjoyment and experience.
Lastly, with only 12 hours to work with each day, time is a precious commodity as there are several murders to solve that require players to be one step ahead of a character with little time to spare. It's during these moments that Boone's movement speed and the time spent opening doors or climbing stairs become a bit of an inconvenience. One scenario I encountered had me racing from one end of the first floor to the other by a certain time in order to interact with an item to open a door. It’s situations like these where I wish there was an option for Luffy to move just a little bit faster, or have the clock tick a little slower as he's interacting with items to move from one area to the next. This, coupled with a few frustrating moments that saw the game lock up on me when entering certain areas or having my button presses go unresponsive when trying to open a door, put a small damper on my time. But again, these minor quirks were not nearly enough to hurt my overall enjoyment of the game.
The Sexy Brutale is yet another gem in 2017’s outstanding lineup of games. The onslaught of incredible titles that this year has had to offer has been nothing short of amazing, and that looks to continue throughout the rest of 2017. From the intriguing story to the rewarding fun of exploring the mansion and discovering its many secrets, it's not hard to recommend The Sexy Brutale to everyone. It can be tough to ignore a few of the technical mishaps currently present in the game, but I felt it was even tougher to ignore the gorgeous environments players are given to explore. Solving each murder puzzle and learning more about the various guests and the mystery behind the host of the ball, Lucas, is quite possibly one of the best experiences I've had with a game this year. Given the pedigree of its current contemporaries, The Sexy Brutale possesses everything it needs to stand proudly amongst the best that gaming has had to offer so far in 2017.
- Beautiful Art Style & Visuals
- Exploration Is Rewarding
- Interesting Puzzles
- Collectibles Flesh Out The Story
- Frequent Hitching Moving From Room to Room
- Movement Speed Could Be A Little Faster