Four out of five doctors agree that it is rarely a good sign to wake up considerably deader than you went to sleep. The fifth doctor was unavailable for comment due to being stuck in a coffin, but we're sure he'd agree. The Dead Case is a point-and-click murder mystery from Zach Schaffer, where the murder you're trying to solve is your own. If only you could remember who you are.
Amnesia as a plot device isn't anything new, but is typically the domain of dainty female love interests or burly-yet-vulnerable military supersoldiers. In your case, you're a non-corporeal spirit, a rather unpleasant looking one, who wakes up in an unfinished grave. While you could spend eternity terrifying children, you ultimately decide to set out to discover who you are, and why your town has such an active ghost problem.
Unlike most point-and-click games, The Dead Case focuses more on the story than on puzzle solving. Your ghoulish counterpart isn't the only restless soul in the area, and you'll get the chance to speak to other spirits and help them figure out what happened to them. Library Ghost, for example, is your source for hints and information, while Schoolyard Ghost is too wrapped up in her own misery to be of much help. (Not featured: Public Restroom Ghost and Walmart Greeter Ghost.) Not only will you need to find out your own past, but each spirit you come across represents a different story that needs to be untangled for you to proceed.
The story is a decent length, and can probably be completed between a half hour and an hour of gameplay. Although it doesn't feature a save function, after major story developments you'll be presented with a password you can use to return to that point whenever you wish.
Analysis: My biggest gripe with the game ultimately comes down to the constant trudging back and forth. The town is fairly big, but in most cases, needlessly so. A disappointing chunk of screens have absolutely nothing to interact with on them. Peppering them with a few random, non-essential souls to speak to would go a long way towards taking the sting out of them.
The map that is featured on the options menu is often absolutely essential to figuring out where you are, but is not as useful as it could be. Especially since early on in the game you'll spend a lot of time wandering around trying to find someone to scare or talk to. The ability to click on any location you've visited and instantly be transported there would not have gone unappreciated, and might have made this game really great instead of just "Well, it's good, but... "
Which is a shame, because I really liked unraveling the mystery behind our hero's demise. The game features interesting characters, a surprisingly touching moment or two, and a story that drives you to want to see its completion. Ghosts? Murder? Ethereal eyeballs? I am so there! If you can look past the few flaws, The Dead Case is a worthy addition to the genre, and well worth an afternoon of your time. Or... *flicks flashlight on under chin* AN ETERNITY!!
... too much?