Waking up on the floor of The Sexy Brutale Casino mansion, Lafcadio Boone is faced with the prospect of trying to prevent several murders that occur throughout The Marquis’ yearly masquerade ball. Bizarre, stylish and often clever, Cavalier Game Studios and Tequila Works’ murder mystery is one you’ll want to relive over and over; and you will.
Game: The Sexy Brutale
Developer: Cavalier Game Studios, Tequila Works
Publisher: Tequila Works
Reviewed on: PC (Review code provided)
There’s something a little spine-chilling about the game’s atmosphere. The care-free RnB, ragtime mashup seems sinister in its execution as you peep through a keyhole, witnessing a cold-blooded murder. For some reason, all of the mansion’s guests are in the crosshairs of the hired-help and other inexplicable forces. Only Lafcadio, with a new found ability to roll back time and relive the same day over and over, can get to the bottom of it.
It all starts when you’re given a blood-stained mask from a strange spectre, causing you to become conscious to the murders. As a result, you’re tasked with examining the schedule exploring the mansion in the hope of preventing their untimely demise. The mask you’ve inherited burns if you enter a room with another person, so you’re restricted to peeping through keyholes and eavesdropping to find useful information such as passwords and clues to progress.
Starting at 12 O’clock, you have 12 hours to prevent the murders by gathering information and carefully watching movements of guests and staff; movements of which will be recorded on your map for reference as well as any other clues you’ve stumbled across. Come midnight, you’ll reset and lose any items in your inventory and everything will go back to how it was. This time, however, you’re armed with the information of a guest who has snuck off somewhere they shouldn’t, or a passcode you’ve cleverly deciphered by using the mansion to your advantage (I won’t spoil anything). Sexy Brutale manages to make you feel empowered with information alone, and that’s pretty cool.
Thankfully, you’ll only have to tackle one murder at a time and you’ll have to get used to the fact that when time resets, the person you’ve just saved will inevitably die again – your goal is stop the murders at the root cause, rather than save everyone, every day. Solving a murder will grant your mask more powers such as being able to overhear conversations more clearly, which cleverly opens previously hidden routes. I found the revelation of new clues utterly rewarding in The Sexy Brutale and it’s one of the games strongest features.
For some reason the controls felt a little awkward at first; movement and door opening felt slightly unresponsive to the point I’d click another button without thinking and send myself into the wrong action. It’s easily adjusted to after a while though, and only hampered enjoyment initially. It’s certainly not the longest game you’ll play either, but it’s backed up with guest invitations and playing cards as collectibles to find. It would’ve also been nice to have a little more tension building in the soundtrack, as it only felt like it had a couple of gears. But, along with the excellent design and art and some highly polished-looking visuals, the soundscape is largely a winner. Especially when that bell tolls, window smashes, gunshot goes off, at the same time everyday… and you know exactly what monstrosity is going down.
The Sexy Brutale manages to feel fresh in the current climate of games. For a game that advertises a slow pace from its look and style, it really does keep you on your toes with some tricky but rewarding puzzles and a superb use of time manipulation. With some polished looks, fun soundtrack and a narrative that keeps you interested for the long haul, this murder mystery is pretty easy to recommend.