Weekly Round-Up Wednesday - 13th April 2022

Screenshot of Singapore's Civic District in Chinatown Detective Agency
Apparently this is what Singapore will look line in 2037

The following post is part of a series of posts that are published every Wednesday to update readers on what I've been playing during the week (this also includes games on my "Pile of Shame"). The games to target are picked by Choicest Games contributors Choona, Luke and myself. As I'll be talking about my progress through these games, there may be spoilers ahead, especially for games containing a narrative. Consider yourself warned.

Chinatown Detective Agency

  • Picked by Me
  • Percentage Complete = 100%

This week I ended up focusing all my efforts into just one game: the newly released Chinatown Detective Agency, a game I happened to back on Kickstarter.

There is a lot to like about this game, besides the fact I've got my name in it when you visit Singapore's National Library! Having visited Singapore several times, it feels authentic when you visit the different locations as you take on the MRT (Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit system). I love the voice acting by some of the actors, especially the one who portrays Justin Koh who has a strong Singaporean English accent. The game mechanic where you have to figure out the correct city in the world to visit or else waste precious time reminds me of the Carmen Sandiego games: I find it to be an addictive gameplay loop and as a result, it's the first time in a long time I've actually finished a game within the first week it's been released!

The game was really buggy on release though, such as the Steam achievements saying I flew on a plane 30 times and visited 12 cities when I had done neither of those things. Worse, some of the puzzles seemed to have misleading clues meaning you wouldn't be able to figure the solution out on your own (I had to use the in-game hint system in order to solve the puzzles in the end). Thankfully, a recent patch has fixed many of these issues so it's good to see the developers were quick to quash them.

There are some bigger issues though that aren't going to be resolved overnight, or ever. The developers are apparently going to investigate the ability to save your game during a mission since at the moment, the game in reality only saves after you've completed missions, even when you manually save the game. Considering some of the puzzles can be time-consuming, you may end up losing progress as a result, and have to restart the mission from the beginning.

Also, unlike the original Carmen Sandiego games where in-game geographical knowledge would help you solve mysteries, you have to rely on Google searches in order to solve many of the puzzles in the game. While this might not be too much of an issue just yet, eventually Google will just return results to walkthroughs or solutions for Chinatown Detective Agency as the top result, which is almost akin to cheating when you're talking about point 'n' click adventures, and kind of takes the fun and the challenge of working these things out for yourself. Conversely, there are puzzles in this game, such as one right at the end of the game, which seem nigh-on impossible to solve, even after searching on the Internet for clues. It's just as well the in-game hint system was there to save the day.

The game also seems to switch between having fully voiced lines and silence, often during the same conversation. Another issue I found was that sometimes the audio is too soft when certain characters talk so there's obviously a lot that can be done with respect to normalisation of the volume.

There's a lot of other things going for the game though. I like how during the middle portion of the game you have to choose one out of three clients to work for full-time. Doing this increases the replay value of the game as you can experience a slightly different story with different supporting characters depending on who you work for. Best of all, the game has an epilogue that takes into account the choices you made in the game, meaning different endings. Regular readers will know how I love a good epilogue.

Finally, I haven't come across the city of Perth yet which the developers promised would be in the game in the original Kickstarter pitch. I'm not sure if at some point it was just dropped or not but if it was, I'm a bit disappointed it didn't make the cut. I'm hoping that in my replay of the game with a different client, I will somehow come across it!

LINK: [ The Pile of Shame ]