Chinatown Detective Agency PC Review

While the plot and characters are entertaining and engaging, there is nothing else in Chinatown Detective Agency that seems quite as captivating.

By RON, Posted 14 Apr 2022

If 'genre' is considered as a racing competition, then the 'point-and-click' games may not be the ones leading this race. Any successful game in this genre requires a captivating narrative, an adventure, quality audio, and, most importantly, a plot that keeps you digging to its depth. Indie developers prefer this genre because it doesn't require them to rely on heavy graphics as long as they can blend the above criteria. Things get better when a mystery adventure is thrown into this genre with challenging riddles and divergences in its course.

With a cyber-noir adventure in the heart of Singapore, Chinatown Detective Agency tries to clasp all of these features while letting you embrace your inner private investigator. A point-and-click mystery adventure by nature, the game sets in 2037 when you witness a world on the verge of collapse. Indie studio General Interactive attempted to deliver something new in the genre and perhaps produced a future classic. The game has stunning imagery, fascinating characters, and a gripping tale. However, glitches that cause players to become trapped in the game and language inaccuracies detract from the game's intensity.


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You play as Amira Darma, who previously worked as a police officer for eight years but desired a change, and this is her opportunity to earn a career researching cases on her own. She is an owner of the titular detective service, which is tucked away above a strip of eateries in a leased, run-down facility full of dusty books and metal file cabinets. Clients and Amira's former police colleagues employ her to do their dirty work by exploring leads, gathering evidence, and profiling individuals of interest while also completing puzzles such as tile-matching and decoding numeric-alpha codes.

Each work Amira completes earns her money, with incentives for jobs completed correctly. These funds help you keep the lights on at your workplace and cover other expenditures, such as travel or acquiring clues from your library contact. While certain missions contain goals that you may fail, the game will always save automatically after each mission, and you can save manually at any point between them. Your interactions and encounters along the road are accompanied by some fantastic voice acting that immerses you in the story. This distinguishes the majority of the characters and lends the game the flavor of an episodic crime drama that incorporates light life simulation aspects to immerse you in operating a detective business.

Speaking of characters, while the mystery surrounding the Chinatown Detective Agency gains momentum, the writing of the characters is where the game shines the brightest. While the delivery might have been a little more polished, the script enables each character to stay engaging while also establishing their own unique personality on screen. Whether it's Amira's impetuous resolve in her mission or the mature, diplomatic demeanor of a character like Keenan Iyer, it's simple to discern and get attracted by the motives and aspirations of each character in the series. This is especially true with the game's nemesis, but I'll refrain from revealing too much about him because of his significance to the tale.


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Chinatown Detective Agency is a puzzle game in the vein of classic point-and-click adventures and educational classics such as Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. You're deciphering logic problems, solving ciphers, and answering geographical questions. However, the investigative portion of the game is not what one would anticipate from other detective games such as The Blackwell series. Rather than interviewing witnesses and analyzing falsehoods of truth, pertinent clues are simply supplied to you. The research component is based on real-world search engines to contextualize the clues. A significant amount of the puzzles during the gameplay require you to do your own detective work, using the few clues supplied by the game and conducting research on real-life papers. Thus the game conveniently puts a Web button in the bottom bar that launches a search browser.

The game's graphical interface is visible while you are engaged in the game's activities, such as your phone on the screen indicating who is calling, a box that displays text messages, and a news alert box on the left side. The money in your bank account, the case you're handling, mission logs containing all of the information you have gathered for a particular case, and several other buttons are located at the bottom of the screen. A map showing the locations of places you can visit in town; Hours where you book flights; and finally, the web, which opens up a browser on your computer.

If you can make a significant amount of money from your inquiry, you may be able to expand your office or recruit other employees to help you. Even though it will cost you extra money each month, the deep character development experience that it gives will be well worth it. Many different storylines are available to explore, but you must select one. This will have an impact on the overall tone of your journey. Each mission provides you with two objectives to accomplish before you are forced to choose the assignment. You'll have a strong desire to discover all the game has in store.


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Sadly, other essential features might seem inadequate beyond the game's distinctive characteristics. For example, the money system enables you to buy flights to other nations for quest reasons or to hire your own helper, which may be convenient, especially when the expenses are so negligible that you have no danger of becoming penniless or experiencing a game over. For me, the most frustrating gameplay element is undoubtedly the hacking parts. The hacking minigame is simply a tile-matching game in which you must match six pairs of tiles to get access. It is always a pure guessing game because you can only make a limited number of guesses, and there is no way to get tips.

Chinatown Detective Agency has a limited amount of autosave spots and does not allow saving during cases, just in between, and only auto-saving after the conclusion of cases. This prevents you from returning to a particular savepoint or altering a conversation decision, some of which affect the game's outcome. This goes beyond annoyance when the game breaks due to a common glitch, which happened several times during the play.

As frustrating as the controls might be, they can also seem unsteady. Amira may go to any spot you click, but she walks slowly, even in the face of danger. This makes it difficult to schedule Amira's events or be at a particular location at a specific moment. For the majority of activities, you must arrive on time or early. This may result in more delay. At times, the game might seem like homework. Specific topics, such as determining the nation of origin and where a stamp was printed, are laborious and time-consuming. Occasionally, the game will be picky about the questions it wants you to answer. This might make you feel like you're still playing trial and error even after figuring things out. If the written dialogue lacks quality, it may also pull you out of the action. The pixel images are not as detailed as vector drawings, making it more challenging to locate interactive parts.


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Chinatown Detective Agency has a unique approach to pixel visuals, accompanied by an ever-present UI reminiscent of classic point-and-click adventure games, including Amira's phone, notepad, and travel choices. Despite its pixelation, the game delivers visually stunning images, including outstanding renditions of great works of art and non-pixelated character portraits representing each character's individuality.

While the pixel art approach has grown pretty popular in games, Chinatown Detective Agency elevates it to new heights with its attention to detail and beautiful lighting effects. A delightfully futuristic story with occasional bursts of sci-fi utopian vision moved on in a game that celebrated its vintage backward-looking design and embraced it. One of the most impressive aspects of this game is its core narrative and supported by solid voice acting.

The game filmed characters using a local cast, and they delivered brilliantly. They contributed well in setting a futuristic environment, and even if you go to other continents throughout the game, its local feel will follow you regardless.   The game's sound design is good and creates a likable atmosphere for most of the game, except for a few situations when music distorts the voice acting.


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Chinatown Detective Agency exceeded expectations in terms of ambition. While it falls short on some of the concepts, it portrays. The game provides a decent detective storyline but suffers from poor design choices and polish. The idea of real-life searching felt welcoming, but the amount of research could turn off players seeking a more conventional approach to solving mysteries. Because doing research online is a requirement of the game, it's easy to feel like you're spending more time gazing at a browser than playing it when everything goes too slowly.

Although the game's second half takes a philosophical and somewhat gloomy turn, I found it to be pretty intriguing, even after replaying it three times. While the plot and characters are entertaining and engaging, there is nothing else in Chinatown Detective Agency that seems quite as captivating. Amira Darma's exploits and relatability carry the story to its conclusion, but the way is obstructed needlessly by deleted or bugged voiceovers, confusing puzzle solutions, and an unnecessary money system. Individuals with barely a casual interest in point-and-click detective adventures should probably avoid Chinatown Detective Agency, while someone like me would want to delve deeper.
 

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
@SarwarRon | GamesCreed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Humble Games, Humble Bundle, WhisperGames
Developer(s): General Interactive Co.
Genres: Point And Click
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2022-04-07

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