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Erstwhile

by Aster Fialla profile and Marijke Perry

Paranormal Murder Mystery
2018

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(6)
4 star:
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3 star:
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Number of Ratings: 23
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- Pinstripe (Chicago, Illinois), October 26, 2020

- bradleyswissman (Virginia, US), October 6, 2020

- rindy, September 23, 2020

- autumnc, September 11, 2020

- peachesncream, August 18, 2020

- Sammel, June 30, 2020

- okcockatoo, June 8, 2020

- Denk, November 23, 2019

- jaclynhyde, October 3, 2019

- badfutureliz, September 3, 2019

- nosferatu, September 2, 2019

- gildedSnail, August 27, 2019

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), August 8, 2019

- dgtziea, July 12, 2019

- IanAllenBird, March 12, 2019

- Laney Berry, February 1, 2019

- mapped, January 3, 2019

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Solid choice-based murder mystery, December 14, 2018
Erstwhile has my favorite opening line from IFComp 2018: "It was a pretty good Thanksgiving until you keeled over and died." It's funny, it immediately piques your interest, and it covers a lot of the plot: You've been murdered. Now you're a ghost, and you have to figure out who killed you.

As this ghost, you quickly discover that you have the ability to read people's minds. This is how gameplay works: After watching the detective interview the suspects, you can enter the suspects' minds. You don't have access to all of their thoughts, though - just some of them. In particular, you can access certain relevant topics that become clues. As you uncover more clues you can begin linking them together to generate new memories in the minds of the suspects and thus more clues. The game keeps track of what clues you've used and what you've been able to deduce from each successful pair of linkages, which was quite helpful for me in mentally organizing what had happened. (It's basically the same mechanic as in Color the Truth, the second-place IFComp game from 2016. Erstwhile is choice-based, though, while Color the Truth is parser.) Eventually, you can possess one of the suspects for a brief period of time and force them to confess. Unless there's enough evidence, though, the confession may not stick.

As you slowly uncover more and more of the backstory, you realize that there's more to the relationships between all these characters than appears at first - which is usually the case in murder mysteries. But I thought it was well-done how these relationships were slowly revealed as you uncovered more clues. Also, the most interesting backstories hint at part of the PC's life that he mostly refuses to admit to himself - even now that he's dead.

Gameplay went fairly well for me. I did get stuck for a while somewhere in mid-game, when I wasn't sure what other topics could be linked. I eventually started lawnmowering through the options, and that got me unstuck. However, that was the only place where I had any serious troubles.

Overall, Erstwhile is a solid murder mystery that I enjoyed playing.

- dream, December 5, 2018

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A smooth Twine murder mystery with complex puzzles, November 30, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This was one of of my favorite games of the competition. Itís a smooth Twine game that plays well both on desktop and mobile.

You play as a ghost who died, or was murdered, during Thanksgiving. You have to simultaneously learn (as a player) about the neighborhood while gathering (as a ghost) mental clues to find out what happened.

The game is divided into two chunks: exploration and linking. Exploration has you looking through the thoughts of others to gain clues, and linking has you pick two related clues to produce a new one in a complex multi-layered system. Iíve seen mysteries use this technique (and written one), but this is the best implementation of the idea Iíve seen so far, and very satisfying. I got stuck near the end, but I feel like a puzzle game is perfect difficulty if I do well until the end and need a hint then.

Great for mystery fans, and fun for everyone.

- Mario Donick, November 24, 2018

- E.K., November 20, 2018

- Sobol (Russia), November 5, 2018


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