Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Chinatown Detective Agency – Be The Google Detective you Were Born To Be > NAG

If there is something that probably gives me more joy than it should, it’s having constant access to the entire world of knowledge pretty much 24/7, thanks to Google. There is nothing I enjoy more than fact checking and learning little slithers of knowledge I can use to enthral friends and family for days to come. I’m not sure if those around me feel the same level of elation as I do, but they can’t say I don’t help them constantly improve their general knowledge.

Knowing this, it was an absolute no brainer that I would love a detective game that didn’t just encourage my Google addition but required it. Chinatown Detective Agency is that game.

I’ve been a lifelong lover of pixel art, point-and-click games and detective stories – everything Chinatown Detective Agency is. Although with Chinatown Detective Agency, you’re getting a game that you’ll walk away from sightly smarter than when you first sat down with it.

Chinatown Detective Agency takes place in the not-too-distant future in 2037 and is set in Singapore. Before we get into the story or the game itself, I’d be remiss not to talk about the game’s solid and unapologetic roots. Chinatown Detective Agency isn’t just a game set in Singapore but rather a cultural artifact that offers needed diversity and cultural recognition.

At its core, Chinatown Detective Agency is a hard-boiled detective story that asks the players to put in the work to solve the cases. You play as an ex-cop starting up her private investigation firm, Amira Darma. Through the game, you will choose which cases to take on, choose your clients and travel around the globe tying together tiny threads. All this will eventually see you putting together the pieces of a dangerous mystery far more significant than you ever could have imagined.

One thing about Chinatown Detective Agency is that there will be no hiding from the consequences of your actions. Play a certain way, and some clients will no longer be willing to work with you and take too long and find yourself in a situation where you can’t solve the case. There is a fine line that constantly needs to be toed in this game, all while you’re racing against the ever ticking clock, trying to put everything together,

The biggest thing that Chinatown Detective Agency brings to the table and what sets it apart from other point-and-click detective games is the structure of the puzzle-solving. A UI button will tab you out of the game and into your browser to solve the in-game puzzles, allowing you to Google the clues you’ve found and come to the answer yourself.

If you enjoy searching for information and note-taking, this is your game. Chinatown Detective Agency is not a game you’re going to float through mindlessly, but if you’re willing to embrace the DIY approach to puzzle-solving, the result will feel really satisfying.

Another core part of Chinatown Detective Agency is money management. Because your character is starting from the ground up, she doesn’t have unlimited finances, and everything in the game costs money. For example, if you think you have a lead to pursue in another part of the world, you need to consider your actions before taking them. Each flight costs a certain amount of money, and as time passes in the game, you will need to have enough cash to pay your office rent and your utilities each month. While this system is often something I would forget about until money becomes a crisis (much like my approach to my actual finances), it changes how many would play point-and-click games. Knowing that I can’t just afford to visit locations whenever I want made every trip feel vitally important.

Chinatown Detective Agency

BOTTOM LINE

As someone with a deep love for point-and-click games, I can say without a doubt that Chinatown Detective Agency is worth the play. Yes, there is still room for improvement and fine-tuning, but what they’ve delivered is something new and fresh, precisely what this beloved genre needs.

PROS

No hand holding

Incorporates real world research into puzzle solving

Adds some much needed cultural diversity

CONS

No hand holding

It’s not going to be a game for everyone – even die hard fans of the genre

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