Review: The Shapeshifting Detective (PS4)

Review: The Shapeshifting Detective (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC, Mac

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: The Shapeshifting Detective
Format: PSN (6 GB)
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Wales Interactive
Developer: Wales Interactive / D’Avekki Studios Ltd
Original MSRP: $12.99 (US), €12.99 (EU), £9.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 16
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

You don’t see many Full Motion Video (FMV) games nowadays. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. The Shapeshifting Detective is one of the few FMV games released this decade and I’m here to find out if it’s worth your time and money.

Gameplay:
The Shapeshifting Detective doesn’t feature complex controls or necessitate any lightning fast reflexes, it lets you sit back and take it all in at your own pace. It has extremely simple controls to occasionally navigate a few options and make a choice of who you’ll converse with next, so anyone could play this game.

As the name of the game suggests your character isn’t an ordinary investigator. By using his unique ability, you can chat with all of the suspects and the police chief under the guise of another person.

Review: The Shapeshifting Detective (PS4)

The developers at D’Avekki Studios did a nice job of giving an illusion of choice with only a couple of key moments making any real difference to the narrative. The story itself is okay but only alludes to a larger backstory. From your second time through the game onwards, you have the ability to skip ahead. Because of this, I’ve played through it a few times now and I began to see the key moments, which left the story less compelling.

Purposefully altering the choices I had made in previous tries, it became clear the game forces the story down one particular route. This isn’t some butterfly effect-style of game. A better description would be a basic and plain fork, with most of the story confined to the handle and only branching off at the end.

I remember the old FMV games being quite cheesy, some by design and others because the budget meant the actors weren’t all that great. The Shapeshifting Detective definitely has some weak moments and half of the actors don’t sell their parts. It isn’t completely their fault as the way in which it was written and filmed meant the lines were stilted and occasionally, uncomfortable.

I broke the game a few times as it sometimes locked-up if I skipped too quickly. This forced me to restart the game and let the troublesome scene play out. This wasn’t a problem during my first playthrough as I couldn’t skip anything. It also meant sitting through the awkward, but thankfully brief, dead silences when I accidentally revisited a suspect who had said all they were going to say.

Review: The Shapeshifting Detective (PS4) Review: The Shapeshifting Detective (PS4)

The story doesn’t move on until certain characters have given important pieces of information. This sometimes means you have to get one person to reveal something and then go back and open a new line of questioning with another. What makes it worse is the shapeshifting as the game often needs certain people to converse.

On a few occasions I found myself systematically trawling through as each person and working my way down the list. Then going back and repeating the process until the game had exhausted everything it wanted to get out before moving on.

Visuals:
The Shapeshifting Detective isn’t your typical game as it’s just a series of video scenes. The on-screen interface is simple and easy to read. The quality of the video and camera work is mediocre given that it cannot stray away from staring at the suspects. This does confine the scope and the game tends to become stale after the first playthrough.

Audio:
Considering that the majority of The Shapeshifting Detective is spent listening to the suspects, it would have been horrific if this section was bad. The speech is nice and clear, apart from the radio, which is only audible when choosing who to visit. It isn’t so much as bad, just really annoying and repetitive. At least there is an option to turn it off.

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

Review: The Shapeshifting Detective (PS4)

Conclusion:
I welcome the return of the FMV genre but The Shapeshifting Detective falters and fails to rekindle the fun and enjoyment that this unique perspective brings. This game’s biggest feature ends up being its biggest detriment because by the end of it, I loathed the prospect of repeatedly trudging through the pool of suspects.

Sadly, I was bored by the mediocre and shallow story involving a police chief who makes Inspector Clouseau seem like a genius, and a bunch of suspects who never lock their doors and let potential murderers stroll into their rooms.

Score:
6.5

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

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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