Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View Review: Next Level Rear Window
A horrible crime has been committed at Dahlia View — a little girl has been violently kidnapped from her home. A former private investigator and father to a daughter himself, Robert Conway couldn’t just wait around and twiddle his thumbs while a poor child was in danger; instead, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Using his sleuthing skills and his camera, Conway carefully observes, then interrogates his neighbors to uncover the truth about not only the missing girl, but Dahlia View at large.
Such is the premise of Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View, a stellar detective story with a unique perspective and relatable characters. Developed by White Paper Games and published by Sold Out, Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View is available on PC now with a promise to come to consoles in 2022. Touted on its Steam page as a “tense and emotional detective thriller,” this 1950s detective title is sure to please fans of the genre and newcomers alike.
Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View has players taking on the role of retiree Robert Conway, who was awoken from a peaceful nap one evening by a commotion coming from his complex’s courtyard. Seeing the police lights concerned him, so he made his way downstairs to speak with his neighbors who had gathered outside. Horrifically, his neighbor’s daughter, 8-year-old Charlotte May, has been kidnapped, items like chloroform and broken pots indicating a violent encounter. A father himself (his daughter Catherine on the police force, in fact), Conway felt his paternal heartstrings tugged hard and promised the distraught dad he would stop at nothing to find the missing child. Little did he know just how much he’d uncover during his unofficial investigation…
Controls in Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View are pretty straightforward with a few catches — first, it’s worth noting that Conway uses a wheelchair, so maneuvering his character will be similar to driving a vehicle (backing up, turning, etc.). Second, this means that what’s difficult isn’t the controls but the camera angles, which, I’m happy to report, can be changed to follow Conway or be in fixed positions. In fact, all controls are remappable, and there are a slew of other accessibility features like subtitle colors or arrows pointing at who is speaking at the moment. It’s always important to see accessibility options, but in a game with a wheelchair-using protagonist, it would have been weird to not see them, so kudos to the devs for doing their due diligence.
Gameplay is broken up into a few different segments, which can be loosely categorized as observation, investigation, and interrogation. Initially, Conway will perch at his window with his camera, snapping away at anything that seems suspicious; as it would turn out, Dahlia View is home to a LOT of suspicious activity. One neighbor appears to be hiding children’s toys underneath the floorboards, while another rushes a lumpy carpet into their car. Conway’s photos become springboards for interrogation or investigation, the retiree making his way to each neighbor’s home to uncover clues about Charlotte May’s whereabouts.
This is coming from a person who can’t play scary games so take this for what you will, but Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View is certainly intense — not necessarily because of the topic matter, but more because of the immersion factor. It’s clear early on that you’re a retiree poking your nose in your neighbors’ business, and some of the activities you’re getting up to run the gamut from nosy to straight up illegal. You can (and will) get caught doing some shady stuff, leading to some potential heart palpitations while snooping around. Additionally, you really get a sense for Conway’s frail state, as he’s constantly in a position where his age and physical ability are taken advantage of by bad people and inaccessible areas. It’s really easy to get invested into the story and characters, which definitely makes the game all the more thrilling.
Speaking of characters — Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View was made using Unreal and everyone is fully voiced, so this is a game that looks and sounds great. The music is atmospheric, the voice acting is convincing and emotive, and the lighting is perfectly eerie while keeping necessary items and environments visible. While I credit the aesthetics for being a great jumping point for newcomers to the genre, I think the production value is something long-time fans will find captivating, both sets of players finding plenty to love here.
I don’t have many complaints for Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View; I loved that you got to intimately know each Dahlia View resident while trying to find Charlotte May, the themes of parenthood resonating throughout the game. Unfortunately, I ran into an issue where the game failed to load after the first camera snapping session and had to switch to my more powerful laptop to complete the game. Looking at a few Steam reviews indicates that this title does have a tendency to crash or trap players in odd places at times, so if your PC is a bit old, consider waiting until it hits consoles (or upgrading your machine) before picking up Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View.
Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View is a scintillating sleuthing story that just about anyone will find absolutely riveting. A 10 – 20 hour investigation that will keep players on the edge of their seat until the very end, Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View is definitely worthy of any detective game fan’s time. If you’re looking to get lost in a mystery game that will keep your heart rate up, Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View won’t let you down.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Sold Out; Developer: White Paper Games; Players: 1; Released: November 2, 2021; MSRP: $29.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View provided by the publisher.