Combining chibi, gothic-style characters with a “who done it” style puzzler is quite the combination. The Sexy Brutale takes these elements and with them forms one fun, enjoyable bizarre murder mystery.
You assume the role of LafCadio Boone, the lucky chosen one tasked with preventing the murders of the guests in this ever expanding mansion. The game’s use of dark humour cleverly brings a lighthearted twist to every murder you witness. Taking the time to watch how and when the murders unfold is part of the fun, as twisted as that may sound. Whether its following the steps of the villainous staff, or listening in on the nervous conversations between some of the mansion’s victims, I found myself wanting to know more as I encountered every character and situation.
Tequilla Works didn’t just craft a monotonous game of “here’s the bad guy, stop him before he kills the innocent victim”. They took the time to craft unique characters and locations that made you WANT to learn everything you could. Each character is isolated to their own part of the mansion and each area felt new and completely different from the last. From casinos to bell towers to expansive libraries, the Sexy Brutale offers variety in everything they throw at you. Not to mention the jazzy music in the background is hard to not hum along to.
LafCadio is trapped in an endless loop. A clock is constantly counting down before the day ends and starts anew. This mechanic, while intimidating at first, is one I learned to enjoy and manipulate. It added this constant sense of anxiety, that makes you think fast and on your feet. You can’t just enter a new area and expect to solve the murder within your first day so get that notion out of your head right now.
Solving and preventing each murder requires repetition, and that’s Okay. It’s meant to be a staple in this game. Whats nice is each area is isolated. I never worried about having to search the entire mansion for clues, because I knew that within this group of rooms were the answers to my questions, and the solution to my mystery. The later missions do require a bit of overlap but nothing that isn’t manageable.
Every part of the mansion has secrets that involve venturing back to at some point. Saving each character rewards you with their mask and each mask comes with a unique ability that helps you progress to new parts of the estate. You may stumble across a locked door and find now key, don’t stress it, a certain character’s mask grants you the ability to lock pick whatever the hell you want.
Another gifted me with heightened senses that allowed me to eavesdrop on conversations happening in the next room over, which in turn gave me safe codes or solutions to how to prevent the next murder. By the end I had made the mansion my bitch and nothing was there to stand in my way or prevent me from getting into whatever room I wanted.
The only real gameplay issues I encountered were minor. The controls didn’t always respond right away and there was some harsh transitions when moving between rooms at times. What I really appreciate about this game though, is the lack of hand holding that goes on.
Tequilla Works thrusts you into these situations and trusts that you’ll be smart enough to use the tools they give you to figure it out on your own. There is no situation in the game that can’t be solved as long as you listen and use what they give you. Saving the many guests and solving each puzzle is extremely gratifying. Using the abilities you receive to backtrack and find all the collectables was fulfilling as well.
Unfortunately, once you know how to save everyone and have collected everything, there isn’t much more to do in the game. Adding a procedural element to solving and preventing the murders would have greatly increased replayability value.