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by Robin Johnson profile


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(based on 43 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


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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Review in Spanish
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"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

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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:
Great fun, January 6, 2017
by Ruber Eaglenest
Related reviews: IF Comp 2016
Disclaimer: Hi, this are the reviews I did in the the IFComp 2016. Iím Ruber Eaglenest. Co-author of The skyscraper and the scar, and entry of that year. The review is posted without edition, and need some context about how I reviewed and rated the games. So, apart of my bad English I hope to be constructive. I will point to the things I don't like of the game, but I hope to be helpful. The structure I follow is this: Title, one line review, two to five word; Mobile friendliness, overall, score phrased based on IF comp guidelines. I had back ache and so thatís why I played most games in Android mobile, I looked closely at how games behave on mobile and review and vote based on that.

Mobile friendly: almost there, it just needs autosave, some optimisations on intelligent focus when hitting a button (that it gets you the proper section by context), and some bug fixes. The sounds breaks in android mobile. I miss a more large buttons, or an option to size them up. However it was pleasant to play and very funny.

Overall: I love the world model. I LOVE UI design. I love the style. I love the implementation. I know Robin is very proud of his landscape design for the game, but It works better for me in portrait, in mobile. It just need a further iteration in the UI to be just a perfect responsive IF system. And in landscape my eye jump too much from the left panel to the right panel, so I prefer to resize the window on desktop. Again, for me, portrait with this IF system, is perfect.

The game, as Draculaland, falls on the humor pastiche sub-genre genre (sic). Iím not very fond on detective stories, and definitively Iím not into pastiche humor pieces, but Robin is soooooo fun, he is so smart doing it, that I laugh out loud several times. Just take attention to the office of the Player Character (PC) and later read the Detective book 1001Ö so funny.

I like that the just plain silliness of Draculaland goes here to another level, and that it works so well. It seems as if Draculaland were the first draft of what is coming, because the pastiche silliness is there, the UI is there, both games has the same CSS visual design, but in Detectiveland it simply all makes click! together. Thanks to the improvements in multimedia, the music, the portraits, and of course the magnificent cover, everything works towards the goal, that is to have great fun with a solid modelled puzzle game.

The better of it is that the model system works. This system remembers us why modelled worlds are so funny to play, and in a world that goes towards hypertext and CYOA domination, this feels as fresh air: the old made new again.

Returning to the use of multimedia, however, the music felt repetitive. It seems the author is not comfortable yet with the silence, and the space around it. I think the game would benefit a lot from a more discrete use of the music, doing only a 2 or three times loop, and then stopping until another change in the ambience of the scenery. With that, short bursts of music, would serve as a perfect cue to the new ambience instead of fill every space with an eternal repetition.

On to the structure, it is somewhat open: you have three cases to work, but you have to choose one. The world organises itself for the case at hand. Once the player has solved the three first cases, the games gift us with a fourth case. The initial puzzles for each case are very easy and straightforward, but I found some of the final ones too difficult without learning curve or a progressive difficult curve in the middle. Probably thatís because the nature of the comp, but for a future releases of this kind of games could benefit a lot of a more expanded play time, and a smooth difficult curve.

In one of the final puzzles for one case, the solution was Ö almost "read the mind of the author", but I think it was very well implemented, with an exemplary design on trial and error. But as I'm not accustomed to this nowadays I made the decision to go to the police station; I had the motivation to do that, but, of course the location was not prepared for me for that concrete case finale, so I got stuck. I think for those occasions the game could benefit of a little more railroading or adding dynamic clues when the player has the motivation to look for in other places when he has failed the puzzle and failed to notice that he has to return to the problem at hand in the same place. ButÖ this is nick picking. We donít need perfectly round games to enjoy them, isnít it? Because this is a game of 9. Ooops, I said that... agh, forget it.

Score: Excellent.

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Recommended Lists

Detectiveland appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Doug's Top Ten of IF Comp 2016 by Doug Orleans
I played all but one of the 58 entries in IF Comp 2016 (I couldn't play Labyrinth of Loci because I don't have access to Windows or Mac OS). These were the top ten games on my ballot. Note that I rate games on slightly different criteria...

Nontraditional Parser, Gamebook, IF and Systems by thecanvasrose
This list is based on a poll you can add votes to. I will update the list from time to time to reflect what's on the poll as I play the elected games and can write snippets about them. See here:...

Unusual input schemes by Felix Pleșoianu
Nowadays most IF is either parser-based or else choice-based. But a few games occupy a space between the lines, so to speak. These are some examples.

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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...

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

Games with a city setting by JonathanCR
I'm interested in games that are set in cities - historical, modern, fantasy, or science-fiction. In particular, games that make you feel that you are in a real, functioning, busy city where life is being lived all around you. Which...

See all polls with votes for this game


This is version 14 of this page, edited by Robin Johnson on 7 December 2019 at 5:01pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item