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The Inquisitor


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Rating: 3.8/5 (21 votes)
Comments (7) | Views (5,922)

The Inquisitor

DoraIt's murder most foul and random in Malcolm Brown's The Inquisitor, a procedurally generated murder mystery logic puzzle game made for Procedural Generation Jam 2014 in just nine days. Each time you play, your job is to find out whodunnit, with what, and why by investigating the murder scene, hunting for clues, and interrogating people... eventually you'll be able to accuse someone, but make sure you're right as you only get one chance! Move with [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, interact and confirm with [E] or [Z], and cancel with [Q] or [X]. [I] brings up your inventory, while [J] starts the accusation process, but you'll need at least one weapon to do so. As you explore and talk to people, you'll use the clues you glean from your investigations, such as time of death, to poke holes in alibis or get more information that could help you nail someone else. While you can explore and take as much time as you want, something to consider is that movement within the game takes time, which can help you figure out who's lying as to someone's whereabouts. Going from one room to another is considered to take five minutes, so if someone tells you they were in a particular room at a certain time, figuring it out how long it would take them to get from one place to another can help you catch them in a lie. You can search people for incriminating evidence a maximum of three times before everyone stops cooperating with you. The game won't keep track of the things people say, so if you're having trouble remembering everyone's statements, or even just need a map, you might want to jot things down. I mean, actually physically jot things down, like with a pen and paper. That's right. We're kicking it old school.

The InquisitorThe Inquisitor is harder than it sounds, largely because you need to keep track of everything yourself (what is this, the stone age?), which comes down to a glut of information. Everyone has information to give, largely coming down to seeing someone in a specific place, noticing that someone else moved something in a location, and giving your their own whereabouts, which can be a long string of locations that can require a lot of cross-referencing with a map you need to make yourself to plot out movements and time. It makes the gameplay a little tedious, but also pretty satisfying in a way because it all comes down to attention to detail as you plot people's motives, whereabouts, and so forth. While The Inquisitor isn't as user friendly as it could be, there's something to be said for games that come down to pure brain power and deduction, and the whole "endless murder generator" is a great idea... though maybe don't tell anybody I ever said that because people already think I'm weird enough. Though it could do with some fleshing out and a little smoothing around the edges, its simple but smart gameplay and core concept offer a great interpretation of the Jam theme and one we hope gets revisited somewhere down the road.

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7 Comments

Is the entire map re-made every play through?

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Why have you labelled it an HTML5 and JavaScript game when it is made entirely in Unity?

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This game's surprisingly fun. I've played through it a few times, and the killer is not always obvious. There are a lot of different methods you need to use to identify them.

One time, no-one identified the killer's motive. The only clue was a note without names referring to a love triangle, and there was already another love triangle that everyone was talking about. I only caught them by identifying a lie in their alabi.

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This game is completely broken and thus unplayable. In every game I've played so far, there has either been insufficient information or incorrect information.

On the website it says that the one who is standing next to the body, can't be the murderer, so I ruled out Quentin. It also says that the murderer will never admit to having entered the murder scene room, so I ruled out Frances too. Left with only Barton and Derek, I guessed Derek, but lo and behold, against the rules of the game it turned out to be Frances.

In another game, I only got a total of 3 people with motives. There was no fourth motive mentioned whatsoever. And of course, the murderer turns out to not be one of those three. What's even worse is that it was someone (Vicky or something) who nobody had suspicions about or a motive for. And since all 4 people have different motives, and the game only mentioned a total of 3 people with motives, it was impossible to deduce the killer.

In a third game, all the times for when people had been in a room and taken or put something down was long after the time slot in which the murder had taken place, so absolutely useless.

This game also has a lot of other problems. It's much harder to guess the murderer when you can't ever know where he/she may have gone first to put down the murder weapon. In one game the murderer went two other places where there turned out to be people, and there was no indication of that whatsoever in the game. So you can't possibly know how long it took the murderer to hide the evidence.

Also, there's a lot of useless information. In one game, I was told five times that Barton was being blackmailed by the deceased, both through incriminating letters and people telling me, the people even told me that in details, both names mentioned which there was no need for, one of them telling me would've sufficed.

And then there's the partially blank messages, about someone blackmailing/loving/etc someone else. There's no need for two blanks, obviously one of the names is the name of the deceased, otherwise there would be no need for that message at all.

And in one game, I was told that the deceased had picked something up from one of the rooms. Completely useless information, since the deceased is just that, and can't be a suspect.

So all in all, there are way too many bugs and problems with this game for it to be playable. If I could, I'd give it zero mushrooms, but one will have to do then.

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Hey, this game was made in nine days. Of course there will be situations where the murder will be unsolvable, because filtering ALL of those out takes some tough algorithms. Also, that wasn't useless information in the third game. The info states that the killer will usually not be randomly moving vests and cloths around chests. If you see that someone did that a whole lot, you can rule them out as a suspect.

I can't really explain the first game, but maybe it's because the game has exceptions to when the room would be considered a crime scene, and thus the killer would enter it? Like, they entered it, but then left without murdering it, but then entered again, actually murdering them that time, and then lying about the one time?

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clay.sweetser November 21, 2014 2:49 AM

This is a really neat mini game, and I feel it's one of those unique concepts that could really be expanded upon to create something fully-fledged. Perhaps some tool-using to uncover secret rooms, and a bit more guidance by the game to help track down the murderer...

Anyway, as a programmer myself, I must point out that these algorithms are not easy - a great deal of 'randomness' is involved, and usually, although the programmers does her or his best to reduce the chance that you get a bad set of conditions, it's hard to prune out all of them.

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