The Detail - Review

The Detail is an episodic mature crime drama by Rival Games which has been described to be in the vein of recent Telltale video games. Most people may know Telltale for their amazing stories that revolve around the well known world of The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands just to name a few. These games are very popular in the gaming community, mostly for their strong themes and amazing story lines. To draw similarity to Telltale games in today's market would be a pretty hard feat to pull off but somehow I am happy to agree that The Detail gets a lot right when you look at it under the microscope.

The Detail doesn't have the same level of production value as the Telltale games but that's not what makes those games shine. Yeah, Telltale have spiffy 3D graphics and their own unique art style which works quite well, but The Detail relies more on what makes a good game tick. There's no voice acting at all in the game and there's not even any real sound effects either. The only audio that the game offers is the subtle but meaningful background music track which manages to set the tone for the scenes. It's quite easy to make the simile here that the musical score is much like a character within the game.

The art style in The Detail is very simple and appears to be all hand drawn by the same artist throughout. Animations are minimal which gives the game a comic book like aesthetic which makes the game make more sense that it doesn't have any dialogue. Like a good book, The Detail makes the player read out all of the dialogue in their head, giving each character their own unique attitudes. The Detail's lack of recorded dialogue and sound effects pushes the player to create the missing pieces by using that underused thing we all call an imagination.

Like a lot of narrative based games these days, The Detail is broken down into three episodes which will take on average around an hour and a half to complete each on their own. You play as a number of characters within the game but your main 'go to' character is none other than Doctor Phil. No, not really but he sure does look a hell of a lot like him. It must be the moustache that does it. Anyway, you play as Detective Moore who gets put onto a murder case where a well known criminal boss is murdered execution style. As you move through the narrative you will uncover the deep and dark underbelly of the horrible world that only criminals and those who have sworn to protect and serve will ever really know anything about. 

The Detail will take you through horrid scenes of murder, drug use, rape and the mistreatment of under aged girls. Although the actual images that the game presents to you won't send you hurling or make you physically ill, the images that the game makes your mind's eye create will be far more disturbing. This is where The Detail stands tall and shines. Episode One introduces a slew of characters which are very easily remembered for their actions and attitudes. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys but this is something that is absolutely fantastic about the game. I would even go as far as to say that The Detail does a better job at character development than a lot of first party triple A games.

Episode one ends with a cliff-hanger which will leave you wanting to come back for episode two and eventually the end of episode two will do the same for three. You've pissed off the wrong people and you have a little surprise waiting for you when you get home. What happens next is something you want to see.
Now, let's recap here. The Detail is in three parts which are all available now on Steam and at present the price is a hair under $10US which is absolutely reasonable considering the game time you will get here. However, if you're looking for game play you're very much in the wrong place. There isn't really any game play to be had besides the odd clicking on screen actions to choose whether you poke the bad guy in the eye, or you reach for a plank of wood. Although these small choices don't really seem to make much difference to the overall story direction, they do make for a little break up from just constantly reading dialogue from the characters.

There is a little bit of optional interactions that you can use to explore the world but it's very minimal. Mostly the game will continue to progress on a very linear path which is appreciated within the confines of this genre of video game. You do have some choices on how to play out scenes which can be a variation on how others may play the game such as whether you decide to play good cop or bad cop. I tend to enjoy the bad cop decisions.
Initially The Detail doesn't appear to be a promising title but it won't take long at all before you feel like you're sinking your teeth into a well written crime novel. The only bad thing is that I couldn't play through it while sitting in the bath with a glass of red wine. Wait, no. Who does that anyway?

Overall, The Detail has a solid story that should keep you interested all the way through to the end. The story delivers a great experience where the game play kind of passes by as little bit pedestrian but this didn't really bother me. I'm glad I played The Detail and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something dark and disgusting with a great story line. Kick back and enjoy the themes of the world's underbelly.

Lucas Aurelius
Aussie Gamers Express

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