I haven’t spent much time with visual novels or interactive storytelling. I always assumed the term was a misnomer for point-and-click adventures and I’ve had my fill of the genre for a long time. As such, my first foray into The Detail was hesitant and I had a lot of complaints, but they all faded over time. The graphic novel style and lack of voice-over makes this a harder shell to crack than anything by Telltale, but there is a lot of positive to find in its format.
The Detail intends to keep players moving through the story rather than hold them back through click-spamming and item hunting. Basically, you shouldn’t get stuck on a section for more than few minutes. This is refreshing and keeps the pace moving along nicely. Taking apart the mechanics is the wrong way to look at a title like The Detail, however, so the best way to sift through its contents would be to see if it delivers on storytelling. With the final chapter of The Detail‘s first season’s arrival, it’s time to talk about how it wraps. This is your (light) spoiler warning, nerds.
The first moments of The Detail open the story through the lens of aging cop, Reggie, in gangland. One murder leads them down a dark path and reveals there may be bigger forces at hand. One thing leads to another and a new division (or DETAIL) is born. Each character has a level of depth and real feelings so despite some of the archetypes at play the team at Rival Games put real effort into creating a story with real feeling, rather than a paint-by-numbers cop drama. This is where Episode 3 starts to drop the ball.
At the end of Episode 3: The Devil in the Detail, everything we know about a majority of each character is spun on its head. Given that we’re put in the driver seat of each person it’s unfitting for a story like The Detail to try for dramatic irony. We have spent time with and as everyone and made decisions based on the insight we had into their lives. To shock us with a spin on ninety-percent of the cast takes a lot of the power out of our choices and understanding of who they are. The whole game I spent time with Reggie making what I considered to be the “good” decisions, but by the end of this chapter he’s so far removed from my attitude toward him I felt like I played the game differently than the writers intended.
This isn’t to say The Detail doesn’t try and it’s necessary to say that I was engaged throughout each moment despite the minimal interaction with a title like this. The game ends on a note that doesn’t wrap up anything we’ve started. The cliffhanger feels forced and while I’m interested to know where it goes, The Detail undervalued its own strengths with the way it handled the wrap-up. It all happens to quickly and leaves the player wondering what our purpose was involving ourselves in The Detail.
While it’s hard to recommend The Detail, there is a lot it does right in a genre that has a tendency to wear out its welcome. The visuals are fantastic comic book style and the interaction keeps you engaged with the story. A lot of people have complained about how short the chapters are, but this is a strength considering how boring adventure titles can become. At the very least, I am interested in where The Detail goes and I’d probably play season 2, but The Detail Chapter 3: The Devil in the Detail is a disappointing direction compared to the subtle surprise of the first two episodes.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed), iOS ; Publisher: Rival Games LTD ; Developer: Rival Games LTD ; Players: 1; Released: April 28, 2016; Genre: Adventure ; MSRP: $5.99
Full disclosure: This review was written based on review code supplied by the game’s publisher.