In 1920s England, sixteen year old Ellie is ready to start her new life working as a maid in the Roquiford family manor. But she’s come into the house at a time of great uncertainty. The previous head of the family has just passed away, and while the young master Irving has taken his spot as heir, it’s only temporary. The late Master left no instructions on the inheritance, instead requesting a seance to be conducted where he will reveal his last words and final wishes. If talking to the dead wasn’t enough, Ellie begins having prophetic dreams of Irving’s death. To save Irving and protect him from his greedy relatives, she must uncover the secrets of the Roquiford family. But Ellie quickly learns some secrets will do anything to stay buried.
Quick Info on Gothic Murder:
Platform: Switch, Windows, Mac, Apple and Android. I’m reviewing the Switch version
Cost: $12 USD (at the time of posting this the game is on sale on the eShop, at least the Aus one)
Number of Romance Options: The game has a ‘true’ and ‘alternate’ ending where Ellie ends up with either Irving and Ewen, but romance isn’t in the story much at all.
Total Play Time: ~ 3- 5 hours
Content Warning: There was nothing that particularly stuck out to me, and the scenes of murder are pretty tame (no gore etc.)
Gothic Murder – Adventure that Changes Destiny is a visual novel by orange inc. The game has five chapters and each chapter begins with a prophetic dream. As you progress through the chapter, you learn more about the family and manor. Characters who seemed to fade into the background, suddenly come into play, and someone who appears rather innocuous can be revealed as the next potential culprit. With each chapter, bits and pieces of information slowly build up to the attempted murder, and ultimately, that shocking final confrontation.
Just like most visual novels, the game features various dialogue choices. Some choices can lead you to automatic bad endings, some aren’t really choices as the game loops until you choose the right one and others boost your affection with one of the guys. But the crux of the gameplay comes during the investigation. As you uncover new areas of the manor, you can click around rooms and interact with objects to learn more about them.
The game has more than its fair share of puzzles that the previous lord left behind, and you need to refer to clues you’ve gathered to solve these. I have to admit, I am not super patient with puzzle solving in games, and usually tend to just rely on a guide. But I had a lot of fun working through these puzzles, nothing was too impossible and were challenging enough that they were quite satisfying to work out.
Of course, once you have all your evidence the next thing to do is to confront the culprit! As you confront the culprit you have to present certain evidence / choose dialogue options to wear down their arguments. One flaw I found within the game was actually during these ‘argument sections’, and it’s a flaw that I find comes up a lot during these investigation type games.
Essentially, when I was putting together evidence, the dialogue that Ellie was saying often felt like completely new information. The clues felt somewhat flimsy for some really dramatic leaps of judgement, and I was sometimes scratching my head how she put 2 and 2 together to make 53. But regardless, I was along for the ride and excitedly clicked through to see what twist would happen next.
Of course a mystery game such as this is only really as good as its story and while I did enjoy the story, I did feel there were aspects holding it back. For how short the game was, I felt like the game had way too many elements – there’s a seance, identity swaps, a bunch of murder attempts, a potential love child – and when the game finished not everything was really wrapped up.
More to the point was that some reveals were just truly hard to suspend belief for. Especially with the game’s ending and the reveal of what really happened in the manor 10 years ago, I just thought it was really pushing the bounds of what was reasonable. And usually I’m ok giving leeway to games to be a little absurd but this one really just seemed to unravel at the end.
Perhaps if they had focused on maybe one or two points to streamline the story or extended the game’s length to provide more ample time to explore each plot point / red herring, it would have made for a more immersive experience. For example, the whole seance aspect of the game could have been cut out and a scene or two reworked and the game would have been the better for it. As it is, I sometimes felt like I was being swept away by a whirlpool of information, and some reveals felt jarring.
With each chapter, the game does do a great way of incorporating each character into the mystery. I suppose my only real complaint is with the character of Louisa, who is another maid at the manor. Early on in the story (I’m talking five minutes in), Louisa frames Ellie for breaking a valuable ceramic and almost gets her fired. From then on the character is needlessly antagonistic towards Ellie and just a pain in the ass to see on screen. I often just wanted to shake her and be like “I’M TRYING TO KEEP OUR BOSS ALIVE SO WE ALL HAVE A JOB!”. But on the other hand, I can’t be too hard on her character, she is that perfect gossipy maid caricature that shows like Downton Abbey showcase so well.
As I mentioned above, the game does have two romantic ending with Irving and Ewen. From Ewen’s alternate ending, players also have the choice to select a non-romantic ending. I will forewarn that the game really puts the romance aspect on the back-burner, and Irving really gets the bulk of the scenes and cute CGs. I really enjoyed seeing the subtle development between Iriving and Ellie and only wish that Ewen had a bit more screen time. But with the time he did get he was quite an interesting and likeable character. But just as I said before, rather than throwing in a random plot point, developing Ewen or Irving would have been a better use of time.
On top of these endings the game also has a multitude of bad endings you can get from wrong choices or failing interrogations. I had a lot of fun going back uncovering all these bad endings. As the game has an autosave function, if you do end up getting a bad ending, it’s no big loss and you can quickly reload.
Finally, I absolutely loved the art in this game! The character designs were really lovely and gosh Ellie is just such a cute MC. But I really wish the game had more CGs. As it is, most of the CGs were, unfortunately, pictures of Irving dying and while important to the story there were some other scenes I would have loved to have CGs for. For example, in a later chapter Irving/ Ewen catching Ellie when she falls or just in general more Ewen/Ellie pictures.
I also have to give major props to the game for its music. There’s this one particular track that plays whenever they talk about the seance or ghosts and it always gives me goosebumps! In terms of translations, the game was pretty good in general. I did find some repeated words, and awkward phrasing but definitely nothing that would make it difficult to follow the story or ‘game breaking’.
Final Thoughts on Gothic Murder
I played this game in one go over a rainy weekend, and it was the perfect short mystery story to get sucked into. However, as much as I enjoyed all the twists and turns the game supplied, I do think it could have been extended to flesh out characters and focus on one or two really riveting red herrings or tangents rather than spreading itself so thin. At times I felt like the game was going all over the place, and it needed a bit more careful control of the story, so spacing out reveals and delving into characters could have helped immensely. Overall, Gothic Murder was a suspenseful mystery but it never hit the heights that it could have gone to.