STAFF REVIEW of Sexy Brutale, The (Xbox One)

Friday, May 5, 2017.
by Brent Roberts

Sexy Brutale, The Box art With puzzle games having been around for generations, murder mysteries have been a solid foundation since the classic board game Clue. Trying to piece together a psychological puzzle full of traps, methodology, and that hint of psychosis. Recently, developer Tequila Works released The Sexy Brutale and priced it at 1/3 of a standard retail game ($19.99 USD). To support that hefty price tag for an indie game, The Sexy Brutale is like the Masquerade ball from Phantom with a dash of Rocky Horror Picture Show and Groundhog Day all rolled into one. So without further ado let us don our masks and dive right in.

Before we begin you should have a little foundation as to what makes this game what it is. You play the role of a guest at a mansion hosting s special event for a night. There is mask wearing, excessive gambling, high stakes gaming, and all other sorts of decadent entertainment. Every wish you could want, every desire fulfilled, but not all is right.

There is a catastrophe and you are saved by a red colored lava woman with glasses (yes, I said that right). You then find out that there are other guests who need saving, and not only will you have to be their saviour, but you will also have to figure out who or what is behind all the murder and mayhem within the mansion. Now, normally this would require you to search for clues, and in order to do that you'll have to manage the puzzle genre's most recent manipulative trait, time.

Puzzle games have tried to become complex to the point of mind numbing agony, that is until an innovation from years ago comes waltzing into the party, and that is time manipulation. In this game you will have to navigate throughout the mansion and use time manipulation to save the rest of the party guests by getting them to remove their masks. Such an example would be found right from the start where you have to search the nearby rooms for a blank bullet to load into a gun which is going to be used at a certain time to kill a patron of the party. Once you save a fellow guest you claim their mask, and with it a new power that will aid you in the subsequent future by granting you some new abilities which you will need to save the other guests.

Now, the reason I mention time is that you will find yourself rewinding many, and I mean many times. This sort of repetitive action can become incredibly mundane, but that isn't the only problem. See when you develop a game that doesn't have much in terms of developmental content, you really have to make sure that the content you do provide is sound and solid and that isn't the case here.

I cannot begin to tell you how frustrated I got with such a simple act as opening a door. First off the input is incredibly laggy, so there were times when I would stand in front of said door, press the A button multiple times and after the 4th or 5th time, the door would finally open. This is a huge setback for The Sexy Brutale given that gameplay issues like this are something you'll be contending with throughout the game.

That's not to say though that this game doesn't have some very bright points. First, the plot is fantastic in a dark humorous way. The graphics and sound help deliver a very Tim Burton feel to the execution by tying it into more of a 1920's presentation. The lighting effects are very well done and the character models seem to fit the nuances of The Sexy Brutale.

Normally in a puzzle game when you get something wrong it's game over; however, thanks to the manipulation of time, should your guest expire, just rewind time and try a different path. This is what really got to me because it became less of a puzzle game and more of an explore rooms, reset clock, explore scenes that can be activated, reset clock, and so on, and in doing so without negative impact on you or your settings. You literally can be like Cher and turn back time as much as you want which made solving the puzzles less academic and more trial and error.

Now when I say you'll be exploring I hope you're ready to wander a lot because this multi-level mansion is enormous and filled with numerous rooms and people that will try to attack you should they spot you. What I did enjoy in this area was how there were unique qualities of certain rooms that gave them their own personal feel.

After my stint in the mansion I can say, without hesitation, that Tequila Works has developed a classy indie game that is full of sophistication, charm, witty plot lines and a dark side that would make Edgar Allen Poe happy. While the drawbacks cause the game to suffer somewhat, the overall experience will bring a smile to your face. If you're a fan of puzzle games The Sexy Brutale should be on your radar.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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