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The Surprising Case of Brian Timmons

by Marshal Tenner Winter profile

mystery, horror, humor
2013

(based on 18 ratings)
10 member reviews

About the Story

You listen to the old broad on the other end of the phone as she finishes her plight. "Brian has gone insane. I've had to have him committed.", she tells you. You haven't seen Brian Timmons in several years and now his distraught mother has called you to ask for help. Luckily, you're a private eye, so this kind of sh*t is right up your alley.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: January 14, 2013
Current Version: 1
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 7
Forgiveness Rating: Polite
IFID: 2A56F9E6-FAE2-40AD-9236-A88812A02000
TUID: qnctd1t1exifgwsi

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(2)
4 star:
(5)
3 star:
(7)
2 star:
(3)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 10
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Hardboiled meets Lovecraft with entertaining consequences., April 12, 2013
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: horror, Lovecraft, Inform
The Surprising Case of Brian Timmons is a Lovecraftian adventure based on a scenario for the Call of Cthulhu tabletop RPG, a scenario in turn based on H.P. Lovecraft's short story 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward'. In spite of its convoluted sounding provenance, this game is actually one of the most accessible Lovecraft IF games out there. A player doesn't need any prior knowledge of the source material or of Lovecraft's work to be able to get into it, and while it's of moderate size, it's more about linear action than the kind of painstaking puzzling folks often associate with Lovecraftian games ala Anchorhead. A word of caution; it's also a game which gets shootier and bloodier as it goes on.

While Lovecraft's protagonists usually have some kind of personal involvement in the supernatural goings-on they face, the PC in Brian Timmons doesn't. He's a detective from the hardboiled school who gets mixed up in a stranger's supernatural goings-on only because they stand between him and his next paycheck. The novelty of adopting an outsider's viewpoint is a welcome one in this busy IF subgenre, and the detective brings humour, attitude and action to the table three things you normally don't much associate with Lovecraft. The resulting game is straightforward, episodic in a good way and becomes quite gripping as you move towards its climax, though some elements of the delivery could be improved.

Brian Timmons is divided up into scenes set in different locations. Each car trip you take from one location to the next acts like a chapter break, and you don't have to worry about deciding where to go. The hero chooses the next relevant stop as soon as he's got enough fresh leads from the current one. While the game itself suggests you should use ASK and TELL to communicate with its characters and at times it's essential to use these methods the majority of communication actually consists of the NPCs telling you their stories one line at a time. While a lot of games use this method and it gets the job done, the game could be richer if it would allow the player to interject with some relevant ASKing and TELLing (as is, the characters only respond on the most vital of topics), though I acknowledge this is never an easy area to program. The characters do a lot of neat fidgeting of their own accord when not speaking, and the game is also generally strong in the area of random atmospheric detail, throwing in lots of little snippets about passers-by, the weather and other environmental changes.

Where the game has some trouble is in getting all of its content to live in the same place tonally, at least at once. When the hardboiled shtick and language are in evidence, they really dominate. But they vanish too easily when the detective isn't delivering his Chandler-esque wisecracks, allowing the game to be overtaken by more utilitarian descriptive text. The sexy dame character is a bit cringy in this light she triggers the "poured into her dress" remarks in extremis, but in isolation, and thus comes across more as a reminder of the game's tonal wobbling than an authentic seeming femme fatale character justified by the genre and context.

I have a few other nitpicks. The game suffers a bit from empty porch syndrome. It needs a little more proofreading. The inventory limit can aggravate, though this last point is mitigated by the coolness of having a trench coat with pockets of seemingly infinite depth. And it's just fun to wear a trench coat and Fedora in general. I enjoyed The Surprising Case of Brian Timmons a lot. It's also a game which comes without hints, and I was pleased to be made to solve it off my own back, pausing occasionally to scratch my head.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Bloody good fun, needs a little polish, January 22, 2013
by Mostly Useless (Leicester, UK)
Related reviews: funny, horror, short, lovecraftian
Marshal Tenner Winter's second IF outing places you firmly in the shoes of a private eye thrown into a mysterious case, and (without spoiling anything the game's tags won't tell you) successfully explores Lovecraftian horror themes from the tongue-in-cheek perspective of the lead character. It's nice to play a game where one moment you're laughing at the dialogue and the next squirming at a grisly description.

There's not much in the way of puzzles, this one's more about the story. My only real criticism would be that there isn't quite enough of it, and there's a few non-interactable items. A bit more work would add a lot of polish, so roll on version 2!

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Fun little mystery!, January 4, 2015
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)
I had fun with this, it was a good story. The puzzles were straightforward, no walkthrough required.

I had a nice chuckle at the ending, where he asks for his check. :P

My one complaint is the disabling of the undo feature. People like to try other actions and play around with things. Disabling that feature doesn't allow for that. I had to restart the entire game just because I wanted to see what would happen if I didn't do the obvious. Up until that point, the save feature hadn't been required. It was extremely frustrating.

Word to the wise, if you are like me and not in the habit of saving, save before you enter the sanitorium a second time.

Otherwise, great game!

See All 10 Member Reviews

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The Surprising Case of Brian Timmons appears in the following Recommended Lists:

A timeline of Lovecraftian horror by MathBrush
Lovecraftian games are oddly overrepresented in IF, both among IF in general, and among great IF games. They seem to be a good fit for the exploratory form of parser IF. Most of these games hit up all of the big-ticket Lovecraft items:...

Polls

The following polls include votes for The Surprising Case of Brian Timmons:

IF of yours you'd most recommend by blue/green
If someone were going to play one IF you've written, which one would you recommend? This can be based on any criteria you choose: personal favorite, highest rated, most representative, most accessible, whatever. (You can always change...

I'm looking for mysteries. by MCCLUTCH32
I like a game with a good story, good puzzles that aren't too difficult to understand and a good mystery. I was thinking more along the lines of horror, but murder mysteries work as well.

Looking for some easy to pick up psychological thriller games. by Xionix
Hello, Im new into IF and Im looking for some psychological thriller, mystery or something that will get you guessing till the end. Again, Im kinda new so I prefer easy one (I still can't get Galatea to talk to me so you get the idea)....

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This is version 6 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 19 June 2015 at 11:32pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item