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Detectiveland

by Robin Johnson profile

2016

Web Site

(based on 38 ratings)
6 member reviews

About the Story

New Losago, 1929 - a town full of creeps, clowns, mobsters and, if you know where to look, the occasional honest citizen. Guide private investigator Lanson Rose through a series of puzzling cases: solve the city's liquor supply problem in "Speakeasy Street", track down a missing food scientist in "The Big Pickle", and investigate strange goings-on under a dilapidated mansion in "A Study in Squid".

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2016
Current Version: Unknown
IFID: Unknown
TUID: noqmuesoxx4vb6qy

Awards

Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle; Nominee, Best Implementation; Nominee, Best Use of Innovation; Nominee, Best Use of Multimedia - 2016 XYZZY Awards

1st Place overall; 3rd Place, Miss Congeniality Award - 22nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2016)

Editorial Reviews

Rock Paper Shotgun
"Overall: silly, noir-themed goodness that never takes itself terribly seriously. The presentation captures some of the appeal of a parser, but with the accessibility of a choice-based game."
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PC Gamer
"Using one of the best interfaces I've come across in IF, you'll take on cases, explore the city, and maybe stop to assemble a tasty pizza."
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Giant Bomb
"What I love about Detectiveland is its commitment to videogameness. It revels in being a little hokey, throwing in gags about 1920s gender roles, mafia stereotypes, speakeasies, and even a reclusive horror writer who is clearly a massive racist."
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Adventure Gamers
Following Freeware - November 2016 releases
"The overall setting of Detectiveland is a noir detective thriller in plain black and white, but presentation is very much tongue-in-cheek."
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Indie-O-Rama
Review in Spanish
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Narrativium
"This is a visual and aural presentation that pops: pretty graphics, some era-appropriate tunes, a clattering typewriter font, Detectiveland has been polished to the hilt. The core story is fun too, with no cliche of the genre left un-mined. Femme fatales, dangerous gangsters, corrupt politicians, it's all here."
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Doug's World
"This is a polished, professional quality work. Definitely recommended."
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The Breakfast Review
"It recognises its tropes and it adopts a rather humorous attitude towards them without actually mocking them. We're here more to laugh with the tropes than to laugh at them. In addition, the presentation is delightful, with the typewriter font and the background music and the little snapshots showing the characters you converse with."
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Member Reviews

5 star:
(9)
4 star:
(21)
3 star:
(7)
2 star:
(0)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
It doesn't take a gumshoe to figure out this one's a gem, October 2, 2016
by Steph C
Related reviews: IF Comp 2016
A great cover tells you just what sort of noirish period piece to expect, and the gameplay presentation is absolutely top notch, with a deliciously atmospheric typewriter setup that fits the theme perfectly without being distracting. There are even vintage character portraits. This is one of the slickest and most professional looking presentations I've seen for an IFComp game so far.

Play-wise, it's a puzzle adventure, but rather than typing into a parser, you're given a few options to click on depending on context. I've seen Quest games do this sort of thing before, and it makes the game feel a little like one of the 90s' era adventures like Day of the Tentacle or the Monkey Island series. The positive of this approach is that you don't have to worry about syntax; the negative is that it's harder to come up with a surprising solution to a puzzle, since all the options are presented to you right off (the 'just try everything with everything' problem.) Detectiveland manages to pull off some neat tricks here, though--in particular, the last puzzle of the case I played, "The Big Pickle", hit right in the sweet spot for me, not too baffling but clever enough that I felt smart when I realized the solution.

Witty, stylish, and lots of fun--highly recommended!

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A little Tex Murphy, a little Sam & Max, June 30, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)
I've always been a sucker for hardboiled detective stories, especially when they are self-aware. Detectiveland is a straight send up of the genre written in a Twine-like parser that only requires navigation of hyperlinks (including an extensive inventory). Everything is here: the embittered detective, sleazy law enforcement, speakeasies, powerful dames, and cheesy dialogue. The graphics and music also fit the mood, though I turned off the music after a while due to its repetition. The fourth wall is frequently broken and I smirked a good dozen times while playing. I also appreciate that the narrator has more modern sensibilities when it comes to feminism and race issues.

The puzzles are not bad considering the format; even though it's easy, one can't just mindlessly click through the game. I especially enjoyed the one in the Italian restaurant. And while the game can't be made unwinnable, what most would consider to be the best ending (out of three) does require extra foresight and can be put out of reach if you're careless.

I wanted to like this even more than I did. Every aspect is above-average and well-polished. While it was neither funny enough nor dramatic enough to be among my favorites, I would recommend it to anyone who likes the genre.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Atmosphere: check. Subversion: check. Parser puzzles in Twine-like: uh.., November 22, 2016
by streever (America)
Detectiveland is a well-written call-back to the interactive fiction of yesteryear: the terse room descriptions and unguided exploration of a classic Scott Adams work mixed with the contemporary themes and concepts present in modern interactive fiction.

Music, sound effects, and visuals all work together to provide a compelling and tight experience. The writing voice is strong and firmly in line with the hard-boiled potboilers of detective fiction, while avoiding the blatant sexism and nihilism that pervaded noir.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the piece, and some of my favorite endings are the "bad" ones, which aren't differentiated outside of your experience. They all end the same, but the last moments, as chosen by the player, are relevant and and meaning.

The puzzles were a nice touch, and show a way for twine-like pieces to recreate classic "do what with what" puzzle design. Some of them were a bit obtuse at first, but the game aspect is very forgiving, and it's easy to attempt again. The game aspects deviate from classic IF in not being cruel; the game state can't be made unplayable.

This was a satisfying detective romp, and it's obvious why it won the 2016 IFComp. Very recommended.

See All 6 Member Reviews

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Polls

The following polls include votes for Detectiveland:

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible individual puzzle by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best individual Puzzle in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not...

Cool Murder Mystery/Detective Games by Christopher Caesar
Hey everybody. I am looking for a murder mystery text game. I finished An Act of Murder a while ago and want to play more games like that, where to get to solve the murder yourself. If you could tell me some of your recommendations that...

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Games of 2016 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best Game in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here will...

See all polls with votes for this game

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This is version 12 of this page, edited by Doug Orleans on 18 March 2017 at 3:11pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item