Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders – Review
17 Aug, 2019
Murder is afoot in ancient China, and it’s up to Detective Di to figure out who did it. Here’s what we think about the historical adventure.
If you’ve watched a movie about the legendary detective Di Renjie, you’ll know that his adventures are anything but mundane. While Sherlock Holmes may content himself with a tussle in the family business, Detective Di hobnobs with people like Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor. His adventures frequently deal with conspiracies, state secrets, and other grand plans, all of which are uncovered with scalpel-sharp logic.
Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders is a point-and-click adventure that puts you in the shoes of the 7th century detective as he attempts to track down an elusive killer. He must navigate a complex web of allies, suspects, bystanders and everyone in-between, if he is to find the killer leaving behind silk roses at murder scenes.
It’s common for point-and-click adventures to easily fall into the trap of nonsensical puzzling, which is then disguised as humour. The Silk Rose Murders, however, is committed to its serious tone, and furthermore, to its very uncommon setting.
Even if some of your tasks are a little extra, there’s always something new to learn about the society of Zhou Dynasty China. Be it the game of weiqi, or the lady setting memorial lanterns on a river, or the brothel on a boat, or the imperial library—The Silk Rose Murders takes you on a whirlwind tour of the sights and splendours of ancient China.
The gameplay, like the visuals, is modelled after the LucasArts adventure game template. You talk to characters, pick up objects, and use objects while other objects. As you make progress in a case, you build up a ‘deduction board’, which is really just an evidence journal. Once you fill it up with evidence, Di will have everything he needs to demonstrate how the crime took place. You’d better not have been slacking, because you will also have to answer questions during these demonstrations.
The murder mysteries of Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders have been put together with care and attention. They’re neither too complicated, nor too simple, and they fit very well into the adventure game mould.
I especially appreciated that when it came to unravelling information, Di was neither slow to pick up on clues, nor was he leaving me in the dust. A sync between the player and the player character is crucial to mystery games, and it is something that The Silk Rose Murders has mastered.
Di himself eschews the gruff and jaded detective stereotype in favour of an affable and dutiful character. You’re also offered dialogue choice, so you can make your version of Di be kind, rude, subordinate, or insolent, all as you see fit. It doesn’t really affect the narrative very much, but it’s a nice touch.
The Silk Rose Murders has a really cosy quality to its presentation that I cannot overlook. Pixely-yet-fluid visuals evoke a distinct nostalgic sensation, without looking too crude. The grey walls and quiet environs may seem plain, but they offer a liminal mood that would’ve been lost with any more bombast. Developer Nupixo Games has certainly mastered the art of letting simple scenes build up in your imagination.
The Silk Rose Murders offers an enchanting and intriguing adventure that is worthy of the Detective Di name. If there is justice in the world, we’ll be seeing more adventures from Nupixo Games starring this intrepid investigator.
Developer: Nupixo Games
Country of Origin: Canada
Publisher: Nupixo Games, WhisperGames
Release Date: 2 May 2019
Platforms: PC, Mac
This review of Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders is based on a copy provided by the developer. The PC version of the game was played for this review.
For more on Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders, have a look at our previous coverage of the game.
WHAT DID Into Indie Games THINK?
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS
Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders is a skilfully-crafted detective adventure made all the better by its fresh, uncommon setting.