In the recent resurgence of popularity with point-and-click games, Rival Games’ The Detail emerges as a noir styled, episodic crime drama. The game officially concluded its three-chapter debut season on Thursday, wrapping up the first arc of the hard-boiled thriller on Steam.
Story: Cue the Law and Order theme song!
To say the very least, The Detail appears to be heavily inspired by police dramas of all kinds; almost to the point of taking you out of the experience entirely. The main character Reggie exudes a likeness to Detective Sipowicz from NYPD Blue, all the way to the fighting paunch and burnt-out attitude of a cop who’s spent far too long on the force.
The story revolves around Reggie and his partner Tyrone as they investigate a dead drug dealer and unravel a web of corruption. They eventually enlist the help of reformed gang member Joe and rookie cop Kate to investigate warring gang activity. The game follows the “pull the thread” mentality with each case, but unfortunately ditches some elements as the narrative progresses. By the end of episode three, the opening murder of the drug dealer feels hardly relevant with everything else that’s being discussed at that point.
The interactions between Reggie, Tyrone, and others read (there is no voice over in this game) terribly cliché at times. For every handful of decent conversations, there’s a dozen lines that can be found in any cop drama. The story thankfully kicks up in chapter three with Reggie discovering a conspiracy surrounding the murder of his former partner, which leads to a surprisingly satisfying end sequence. While the final chapter allows for the narrative to truly shine, the first two of The Detail are pretty rough to get through.
Gameplay: Point-and-click with a dash of comic book.
The narrative opens up on a fantastic black and white, panel-by-panel sequence detailing two officers apprehending a pedophile. The introduction feels reminiscent of a motion comic book and gives players a few interesting quick time decisions. This aspect of the game is easily its shining point. These progressions definitely create the tension-filled noir aspect of the story and actually lend real suspense to the narrative.
True to its point-and-click inspirations of TellTale Games and LucasArts, The Detail allows players to traverse crime scenes as Reggie. Investigating an area is simply done, with different items of interest highlighted as you hover over them. None of these sequences contain particularly tough puzzles, and serve almost entirely to push the narrative forward with different dialogue selections.
Most minor dialogue choices play out with varying outcomes, making them fun to see through. For example, having Joe tell his wife the truth of his police involvement or lying about it resulted in slightly different circumstances for the third chapter. While not uncommon in the genre, they made for nice touches as the plot eventually fed into the compelling narrative panel-by-panel scenes midway.
The Detail is a title that has a hard time emerging from its own inspirations. The characters and much of the dialogue are far too reminiscent of popular police dramas and sometimes over the top. However, it starts to find its own rhythm in the third chapter and the finale itself hit all the right notes of its crime drama theme. The motion comic sequences are satisfying points where the true identity of The Detail begins to emerge, and hopefully Rival Games will let that shine through in season 2.
The Detail season one is available for purchase on Steam.
Overall score:[usr 3]