I’ve been playing more Tales of the Neon Sea by Palm Pioneer and am completely charmed by it. I wrote about my initial hesitations, but I’m all in. Why? Because of the cats, bay-beeeee! Also, murder mystery that is being handled well so far. I’m only two hours in, but I’m loving every second of it. Well, not every second, but most of them. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Let’s start with the murder mystery part. i have tried for years to find a murder mystery video game that I liked to no avail. I’ve played almost all of the critically-acclaimed Sherlock Holmes games, and not to put too fine a point on it, I hate them. I know this is a me-thing and probably because I had specific expectations for the game which were not in any way fulfilled. I wanted to be able to deduce and figure out murder mysteries. Instead, I had to do a bunch of typical point-n-click games like how to cross planks atop a building in order to get to the other side but some are crumbling. Plus, the trope of seeing a thing that you KNOW you’ll need at some point, but you can’t pick up yet. Everything I did took away from the mystery aspect and I never finished one of those games.
I also tried the Poirot game because I am a HUGE Poirot fan. But, it was a crashing disappointment and I didn’t finish that one, either. I loved Paradise Killer, but it made me constantly nauseous and had to finally, reluctantly, quit. I played several point-n-clicks and fell off all of them sooner or later. The one that hurt the most was Kathy Rain. It was so great for the first two-thirds of it (as long as I ignored the usual point-n-click bullshit like endless backtracking and esoteric puzzles that only make sense if you’re high as a kite when you try to solve them) as a retro ’80s feel to it with a strong female protagonist. Badass who smoked cigarettes and drove a motorbike. There was an interesting story about her mother going crazy and her searching for answers. Her father disappeared and it was really building up to be something special.
Then it was aliens and I was crushed by the copout. All that build up and great background for naught. The interesting story? Aliens. It was all fucking aliens. And I hated it so much. I felt betrayed, which, again, is a me-thing. There was supposed to be a sequel, but the game bombed and the sequel was cancelled. I probably would have played it if there had been one, but I would have been bitter about it, too.
Side note: Elden Ring is Schrodinger’s game right now. We know it exists, but we do not know when it will com out (if?). I would be fine with that if FromSoft told us anything at all. All this time, people have speculated whether there will be another Dark Souls and people are begging for another Bloodborne. I am in a distinct minority in that I don’t think there will be another BB (and never did) unless dictated by Sony and I don’t want another Dark Souls.
How can that be, Minna? I hear you cry. You love Dark Souls! I do, indeed. I’m watching a n00b try it out for the first time and I still get chills at a certain part of the intro sequence. Dark Souls III is my favorite game of all time. I think DS II is a much better game than most in the community do. You would think I of all people would want another Dark Souls game. Most in the community do.
Here’s the thing. Dark Souls III was the perfect ending to the trilogy. It was a love letter to the fans and like a band playing all their favorite hits.
Anyway! Back to Neon Sea. The murder mystery is handled in a simple way, which is the best. I get to investigate the scene for clues using both my regular senses and my investigator’s eye. Then, I can combine the clues with an easy press of Y and see what happened. There are a few other mechanics, but that’s pretty much it. I’m enjoying it so fun along with the schlocky cop tropes that are sprinkled throughout.
I used to be on the force until my body got broken and I couldn’t take it any longer. I’m a legend, but an old one so the cocky young bro cop ain’t got time for that. My grizzled ex-partner is still on the force and he’s seen and done it all, man. Yes, it’s bullshit, but it’s fun bullshit.
The murder is where it gets interesting. It’s of an old woman, Mrs. Perry, who hates robots and loves cats. The tension between humans and robots is a main theme of the game, and it’s not one that usually interests me. In this case, however, I can dig it for whatever reason. She feeds a bunch of the stray alley cats of which William, my beloved street-smart black cat friend, is one. Turns out his girlfriend, the posh white cat, Elizabeth lived with Mrs. Perry and is now on her own.
Here’s where things get really interesting. The game has me to play as William to find the murder weapon, and I have to talk to the street cats family, the Bourbons, in order to figure things out. Each of the cats have different personalities and I adore them all.
It’s early days, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this hidden gem. Hopefully, it’ll just continue to surprise and delight me as I play.