The Sexy Brutale Reviews

AuthorReview
Titanium Dragon
101,393
Titanium Dragon
TSA Score for this game: 275
Posted on 16 December 17 at 10:11
This review has 3 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
The Sexy Brutale isn’t sexy, but there’s certainly some brutality in it.

The Sexy Brutale is a puzzle game in which the player place the role of Lafcario, a guest at the titular Sexy Brutale casino and mansion who is trying to prevent the guests from dying gruesome deaths. The major mechanic of the game is time travel – the player is trapped in a 12 hour long time loop, at the end of which all items that the player has picked up during the loop will be reset to their starting locations, and all of the characters will return to their starting locations, in order to run through the loop yet another time. Played from a third-person perspective, the player navigates the mansion, spying on the guests and staff, with the intent of preventing the murders of ten guests by the staff and various other hazards within the mansion. The player must avoid being seen by the guests and staff, and as such, ends up watching people and listening to a lot of conversations by leaning against doors or looking through one-way glass.

Time travel is key to solving the puzzles; events in the game happen at the rate of 1 hour of in game time equals 1 minute of real life time, and very few events don’t occur in real time. The player walks around the mansion, watching the various staff and guests move around, then makes use of the knowledge they gain by doing so in the next loop to try and solve the various puzzles. Oftentimes, the player will end up having to stalk the guests for a loop, the staff for a loop, and explore the environment for a loop in order to solve the various puzzles. The various characters will often drop clues as to what the player is supposed to be doing, resulting in a lot of characters having a tendency to talk to themselves in order to drop plot information and puzzle hints.

The mansion contains a large number of examinable objects, each of which pop up flavor text when examined. There are also a number of items found lying around the mansion, all of which are used to solve various puzzles.

The last major game mechanic is the mask abilities. As the player saves each guest, they gain some ability related to that character, such as keen hearing that allows the player to overhear whispered conversations or the ability to pick locks. These allow the player to gain access to new areas of the mansion.

While there are ten guests that the player saves, the story is strictly linear; the player must save each guest or pair of guests in turn before moving on to the next. And while the player saves ten guests in total, three of those are actually pairs of people, so there are ultimately seven murder mysteries that the player must solve, though there are a couple other mysteries that the player must go through.

The mysteries are, on the whole, pretty straightforward, though the game is not always terribly explicit about the solutions; in some of the puzzles, the player is essentially outright told the solution to the puzzle by some character, while in others, the player must piece together a way to stop the death based on various environmental objects that they might find or manipulate in their favor, or defusing potential hazards. The puzzles don’t get particularly more difficult over the course of the game; indeed, a few of the later puzzles feel a lot more straightforward than some of the earlier ones, as the solutions to them are outright told to the player if they listen to the right character. On the other hand, many of the puzzles simply cannot be solved unless you take the time to stalk the right people for essentially the whole loop, which can in some cases lead to following three characters around – and you might not be able to find where said characters start out without resetting the loop several times and hustling around trying to find them.

However, despite the relative ease of the puzzles, there is somehow a sense of satisfaction in preventing most of the various murders. I certainly wanted to solve the various puzzles in the game, and wanted to unravel the mystery of why the staff were so intent on murdering the guests.

Unfortunately, while I appreciated many of the individual mysteries and characters as units, it also felt very compartmentalized. The biggest problem was the lack of real interconnection between the various murders; they are all stand-alone events. Of the guests, only two guests who aren’t murdered at the same time (and thus, saved together) ever interact, and while solving one of those murders leads to the tools you need to solve the other one, the two murders are otherwise completely disconnected from each other. As a result, despite you solving the various murders in turn, there’s little sense that they are all part of a greater organic whole. And while you might expect that, at some point, you might need to go through and save all of the guests in a single loop, this never actually happens, and indeed, would be impossible to do due to the timing restrictions, as well as the fact that saving anyone resets the loop – even if you’ve saved them on a previous loop.

All of this is rather disappointing, as it decreases the sense of the mansion being a greater organic whole. The fact that you can see various events taking place in the background from both past and future murders, such as the lights dimming when someone is electrocuted to death, and hearing the gunshot from the very first murder you solve in the game every day at 4 pm, is a nice touch, and the various characters reacting to these events is fun. But the lack of any actual connection between the murders diminishes this context.

The story’s ending also leaves something to be desired. While I guessed two of the central plot twists before the end (though I didn’t guess the particulars of the second one), the “biggest” plot twist the game has is also the lamest, as it is Standard Plot Twist #3, and worse, is a plot twist I’ve seen in several recent games. While the ending changing everything can be fun, it can also lead to the rest of the story feeling pointless at times as well, and this one strays towards the latter.

If I was going to complain about something else, it would be the characters’ appearances. The characters in the game all have very large heads, intended to emphasize their masks. While this makes all of the characters readily recognizable, it also gives them all a rather bobble-headed look, which ends up feeling rather inconsistent with the brutal deaths they suffer. While the actual visuals on-screen aren’t too gruesome, some of the in-game flavor text while examining the bodies is quite nasty, describing a character’s face having been dissolved by poison they ingested or their charred corpse being barely recognizable, and all of this feels rather incongruous with the cutesy bobble-headed art style. One of the central heroic characters – the Bloody Lady – also simply doesn’t look very good from a graphical perspective, with the “blood” looking not very much like blood at all, and looking very artificial.

On the other hand, the cutesy art style does work reasonably well for the villains, who are amusingly expressive despite wearing World War I era gas masks.

While I’ve mentioned a lot of caveats here, this is not to say that I thought that the game was bad; on the contrary, on the whole I enjoyed the time I spent with the game, though some issues (like the inability to jump forward in time in less than four hour increments) did niggle. This is not the best game ever, but it is something that is worth playing if you can get it on sale. Clocking in at about 7 or so hours long, I felt like the game was about as long as it wanted to be, and to have a reasonable amount of content for its length.

If you’re hoping for an in-depth murder mystery or terribly complicated puzzles, you will be disappointed. But if you’re okay with a fairly lightweight puzzle game with some fun time mechanics, this might be up your alley.
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