Review: The Sexy Brutale (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: The Sexy Brutale
Format: PSN (1.2 GB)
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Tequila Works
Developer: Cavalier Game Studios / Tequila Works
Original MSRP: $19.99 (US), €19.99 (EU), £15.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

When I received The Sexy Brutale I intended to just have a quick go as I still had a few other reviews on the go, things did not go to plan.

Editor's Note
A physical edition of the game is now available in select territories. The Sexy Brutale: Full House Edition retails at €24.99 / £19.99 / NZ $49.99

Please see this post for full details.

Gameplay:
You replay the same day over and over again in a groundhog-esque way. When the clock strikes midnight you return to the start of the day. Your aim is to save the lives of the guests in a bizarre mansion.

You must not be seen by the guests or devilish murderous staff. Extravagant masks are being worn by everyone and these inanimate objects have the ability to freeze time and give chase if you end up in the same room. If they reach you then your life will slowly drain away eventually resulting in the death of your character.

So how do you save the unfortunate guests if you cannot talk to anyone or get close to them? It turns out you can spy through keyholes and safely hide in cupboards. In doing this you can follow the perpetrators and victims around, eventually finding some way of keeping the murder from happening.

It might not be obvious at first but you will need to think about the relationships and mannerisms of all parties involved in order to figure out how to stop the slaughter. Enough investigation leads to clues and helpful hints.

Believe me, the deaths are brutal, or should that be “Brutale”, and uncomfortable to watch. The killers can be heard saying such frightful and uncompassionate things. It’s little surprise that they resort to such horrific deeds without any remorse or compassion.

Because of the way in which these people die and the things you overhear, you feel such sorrow for them. Knowing what’s going to happen to them and seeing it repeat as you wind back the clock makes it agonizing. It’s such a relief when you figure out how to save each person.

Once their fate has been avoided, they seem to snap out of an unearthly trance and discard their mask, which you can take for yourself, including the power it holds. Only at this time can you approach the person, who is generally oblivious to the fate that cost them their life.

… wonderful hours of pure gaming bliss …
The more people you save the further you can travel in the mansion and discover its many secrets and oddities like strange paintings, large chests, and numerous books and notes. Some will help to propel the story along while others just make you smile.

There are even playing cards to find. Most are easy to acquire and can be found just lying on the floor but there are a few that are very tricky. I am close to a full deck and I really want to see what happens when I get them all. It also pays to explore every room too as you might be surprised by what you’ll find.

Some might find the narrative a little strange but it all makes sense in the end and it was such fun completing the story that I did it all in one complete sitting. I started playing late at night and finished as the sun started to rise.

With just under seven wonderful hours of pure gaming bliss to finish but plenty of things to find afterward, I’m currently at the twelve hour mark. I have been struggling to find the last invitation and playing card.

Visuals:
The Sexy Brutale features a lovely isometric view of a detailed and fantastical masked ball, or at least the remnants of one. You will have to explore the many varied rooms of the sprawling mansion, complete with an extravagant casino, immense library, guest rooms, art studio, and much more.

Every inch of the building, including its inhabitants, has been expertly crafted in an almost timeless splendor. Each character moves and acts in a believable way with all the eccentricities you would expect from such a peculiar group of people.

I also adore the little things like the dust motes floating in the air and the ever-changing glide of sunlight as the day passes by the gothic windows eventually leaving an eerie purple and gray moonlight behind. Painstaking details have been put into every little thing and I would love to get my hands on the beautiful artwork.

… a fine accomplishment of design and spectacle …
Audio:
You need to hear the full majesty of the music and sound effects as they help to convey all of the emotions and turmoil of each person’s plight. There is some delightful singing but the rest of the voices are just text on the screen. This is not a bad thing, quite the opposite in fact.

Reading the conversations and murmurings of the guests does away with any chance of cheesy voice work and imprecise inflections. It lets your own mind conjure the voices instead. It also allows you to fully appreciate the tension inducing music that’s different with each part of the mansion.

You will eventually learn the routine of each crash, rattle, and ding as the day wears on and if it were not for the map, complete with a time slider to see the paths of each known person throughout the day, you could tell what is going on just by the sounds around you.

This is one game that I have enjoyed listening to as it blasts out of my speakers. In fact, the entire family loves the music and didn’t mind hearing it as they went about their business. The game has such distinctive melodies that fit so perfectly with the fun and anxious gameplay.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The Sexy Brutale is a fine accomplishment of design and spectacle and a perfect example of why I love gaming. I became invested in the characters and each time I witnessed their demise it was painfully difficult.

Changing their fate by manipulating time and tweaking their destiny is such a satisfying gameplay mechanic and it works so well. The story might not win many awards but the emotional journey and the conclusion you reach are absolutely brilliant.

This is not just a game that I heartily recommend but an experience that I utterly adore.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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