Detective Di: The Silk Road Murders

 

 

 

Genre:    Adventure 

Developer:   Nupixo Games

Publisher:    Nupixo Games, WhisperGames

Released:   May 1, 2019              

Requirements (minimum):

 

  • OS: Windows 7 SP1 or later 
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Storage: 500 MB available space
  • Sound Card: All DirectX-compatible sound cards

 

 

 

By flotsam

 

Detective Di: The Silk Road Murders

Nupixo Games

First things first.

The opening screen says that whilst a work of fiction, the game is based on historical characters. Some googling identified that Di Renjie (the Di in the title) was an official holding various offices during the Tang and Zhu dynasties, the latter of which was established by empress dowager Wu Zetian, a key protagonist in this offering. There may be others but I stopped and got on with things, but I always like when "real" people underpin adventures, even if the adventures themselves are imaginary.

The Tang dynasty, in which the game starts, spanned the 7th to 10th centuries in China, interrupted briefly by the short lived Zhou period (more googling after the event). Detective Di is in Panglai to investigate the murder of a Korean diplomat. While it serves as a prologue to the events that unfold about a year later, it establishes Di's credentials as an honourable and skilled investigator. It is on the back of that success that he is appointed chief magistrate and is summoned before the new Empress. Murder most grisly, perhaps politically driven, is afoot, and the Empress is keen to uncover any possible undermining of her rule. Di soon finds himself on the trail of a serial killer, and the breadcrumbs keep coming.

There is a minimalism to much of the game, which all comes together to produce a very satisfying whole. Visually it's at the more pixelly end of this retro-style of games, yet various locations can be elaborate, almost sumptuous, and little touches here and there add to the overall aesthetic (for instance, check out Di's belt depending on whether he is walking left or right). The sound palette does its bit as well, music reflective of the Chinese setting occasionally giving way to the sounds of the environment, maybe crickets or birds. Ambient sound is just as sparse but equally as integral to what confronts you.

There is no spoken word, which is probably the only thing that was a little disappointing. It would have been nice to have heard a Chinese language, playing along with English subtitles, but it was a small thing. Far more importantly, what is read is well written, meaning the tale is well told, with a twist or two to keep Di on his toes.

The game is played in the third person, driven by Detective Di's investigations and conversations. Asking questions is as important as finding the necessary items, and while some characters require a fair bit of questioning, it never seemed unnecessarily overdone. The bulk of the puzzles are inventory based, and there are four or five logic puzzles that are both thoughtful and contextual. As well, at various times you will get to re-enact the particular crime, requiring appropriate input from you at particular times. If you provide the wrong information, Detective Di says something like "that doesn't seem right, lets try again" and off you go. None of the puzzling is hard, but I always felt like I was playing rather than just clicking through dialogue.

It is straightforward point and click, and its mechanics will be familiar to most players. Sweep your mouse around the screen and hotspots will be revealed. Left click will bring up an icon to look, and possibly also one to use or take. Moving the mouse to the top of screen brings up the inventory ribbon, in which the same icons are available for each item. Examining items is important, for both clues and triggers, and is where you read notes and other scraps of information you might find. You can also combine items should that be necessary. An icon bottom right of screen brings up your deduction board, which keeps tracks of the evidence as you find it, and which when full triggers the re-enactment for that crime.

You can't highlight hotspots, which produced a shortish pixel hunt or two, but nothing too frustrating. Screens can scroll sideways and now and then in other planes, and a shoe icon will indicate an exit from the current screen. Exits can lead to a map, from which you choose your next location, with new ones popping up as you trigger them through the game. The escape key brings up the menu, from which you can tweak a few settings. Save at will.

In short, and in conclusion, appealing all around.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz

RAM: 32GB GDDR5

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB

 

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June 2019

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