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Death off the Cuff

by Simon Christiansen profile

Mystery
2010

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(8)
4 star:
(25)
3 star:
(14)
2 star:
(3)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Ratings: 51
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- RichCheng (London, UK), August 17, 2018

- play_all_day, June 21, 2018

- Stas, April 14, 2018

- nosferatu, January 29, 2018

- Wanderlust, August 3, 2017

- EngineerWolf (India), December 24, 2016

- hoopla, November 9, 2016

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Charming, campy fun, October 9, 2016
by TLeather (London, UK)
This is a campy Poirot spoof with a delightful premise: the player takes on the role of the detective who has gathered his suspects together for the final reveal. Unfortunately, he has no idea who the killer is, and must ad lib his way through his speech instead, gathering clues as he goes. Once the player thinks they know who the killer is, they can ACCUSE their suspect to end the game. This conceit works perfectly to turn the Poirot-style reveal into a piece of IF, neatly sidestepping the player/character dissonance that would be created if the detective already knew the killerís identity while the player did not.

The game is well paced: everything takes place in a single room, the small number of objects and characters keeps the player on track, and the plot develops quickly as new clues are uncovered. That said, it was occasionally frustrating to comb through each suspect in turn to find one small detail I had missed, and I spent a lot of time examining characters Iíd already exhausted.

The spoof is down to a tee, and this is where the real fun lies. The Poirot parody plays on all the right tropes, featuring a cast of ludicrously suspect characters whose dramatic revelations kept me thoroughly entertained (Spoiler - click to show)(at one point, the detective yanks a fake beard off one of the suspects). If youíre looking for a sophisticated murder mystery requiring Sherlock levels of deduction, look elsewhere: this game is a puzzle-light whodunit full of charmingly hokey reveals.

Unfortunately, the ending leaves a little to be desired, and feels at odds with the rest of the game. (Spoiler - click to show)The murderer reveals himself towards the end, and itís impossible to accuse him beforehand. This throws the whole mechanic of making accusations out of the window, and I felt cheated of the opportunity to point the finger at the murderer myself. At the same time as the ending feels true to the gameís tone, it also feels a little anticlimactic: all of my sleuthing and clue-gathering eventually came to nothing.

In spite of its flaws, I had a lot of fun playing Death off the Cuff: its clever premise and charming style see it through.

- verityvirtue (London), May 26, 2016

- itsdnoftheworld, May 8, 2016

A mid-length conversation parser game that Agatha Christie fans can love, February 3, 2016

I played the Android app of this game, which is the first parser app I've tried on a smartphone. I had some trouble at first getting used to the interface, but I worked it out eventually. It was nice that the author made the necessary commands quite short.

This game is perfect for Agatha Christie fans. You are a famous French detective, wrapping up your concluding speech after figuring out who the murderer is. Except you have no clue!

This is a conversation game with emphasis on details, much like Toby's Nose, Lime Ergot, or Out of the Study. You look at people, pick out details, and talk about it. This prompts people to spontaneously confess. The details that come out are classic Christie, slightly exaggerated.

The version I played had cartoon illustrations. There are about 6 or 7 NPCs, each with a unique personality.

I enjoyed this game as a Christie fan, right up until the end, when the real murderer confessed out of nowhere. I think it's because I had pressed them before, and forgotten about it, later completing the rest of the tasks. Even though I felt the last challenge was too easy, the steps leading up to it were marvellous.

- Deeborm (Virginia), January 10, 2016

- Sobol (Russia), November 10, 2014

- Katrisa (Houston), March 3, 2014

- Otto (France), January 18, 2014

- IxPrefect, November 8, 2013

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting, but ultimately frustrating, September 30, 2013
Death off the Cuff has a very original and interesting concept: you are a Poirot-style detective, and all the suspects are in the room, waiting for the final reveal; you must observe and evoke relevants topics to move the case forward and ultimately discover who did it.

The mechanics of the game are quite simple, since it's about focusing on the case and the suspects and find out what is not quite right with the facts. However I found several problems with this in the game. First of all, there are a few topics that weren't implemented, and others that quickly run dry, so when you're stuck you end up trying a lot of different things that get rejected by the parser. Second of all there were a lot of reveals, and maybe a bit too many: every character has several things to hide, but they may not all be relevant to the case, in which case they feel a bit futile. Lastly, some clues were very subtle and involved looking around to detect a very small change in the situation, which was a bit frustrating for me because I didn't always think of it and instead tried to talk about different topics that seemed logical but didn't work. (But I guess you can't expect the case to solve itself either, eh?)

On the other hand, the game's writing is very good, since I found it managed to stay in the style of Agatha Christie but with a touch more humor, which made it a refreshing and genuinely funny exercice in style. All the responses to action furthermore fit very well the setting, in that they all seem like parts of the exposition that the detective is attempting to create, and seam together very well. The responses to the observations you make to stall are almost guaranteed to make you chuckle.

On the implementation side, there was a few typos (missing " for instance), the hints were linear (when you can find the reveals in any order, meaning you can find a few of them and get stuck and the hints will hint at the things you've already discovered, which isn't very good), and, unfortunately, a pretty big bug that meant I had to restart and follow the walkthrough to see the end of the game (Spoiler - click to show)(I think I had looked at the constable a bit too much before getting all the other reveals done, and right after I focused on Jonathan's wounds, there was a picture of someone with a gun, and I barely had time to see that the constable had turned into a German murderer without explanation without dying. I imagine that's the trouble with having several reveals you can find in any order, is that if you didn't think of a particular order it produces a bug.) However, the rest of it was well implemented and well made.

To sum up, I wish I could have liked the game more, for its very nice writing and concept, but there was a few issues that made playing it frustrating.
Note: this review is based on older version of the game.

- Zeofar, September 1, 2013

- DAzebras, April 29, 2013

- Ann R. J., April 19, 2013

More than meets the eye, April 14, 2013

(This review is based on the original IF Comp release.)

We begin the game with a exceedingly clever and original premise (at least, not a premise that I've ever seen before). The writing is witty and fun... a few typographical errors here and there to distract, but the prose manages to do what it needs to do without being repetitive, which is a trap it could easily have fallen into given the premise.

This game is interesting in that it's almost entirely conversation driven, but you can only talk about objects in plain sight. This at first makes it seem as if the game will be pretty short, as you're in a room with six people and limited objects, but there is a lovely layering of detail that is not at first apparent, and it turns out there's more to the conversation than it would at first appear. The game looks as though it'll be a banana, but turns out to be a bit more of an onion, and this is a dreaful metaphor, so I'm going to move on and give this game a score.

It wasn't perfect, there were a variety of ways it could have been better. It probably deserves four stars, but I had a lot of fun, so I gave it five.

- DJ (Olalla, Washington), February 6, 2013

- E.K., August 13, 2012

- Molly (USA), July 24, 2012

- Ben Treat (Maine, USA), July 7, 2012


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