Lord Winklebottom Investigates is an anthropomorphic detective game that’s anything but elementary. Here’s our review…
The simpler a video game is, the more precise its individual parts need to be. This is certainly true of Lord Winklebottom Investigates, a point-and-click murder mystery that has you playing as a 1920s giraffe detective. With its locations and objects depicted with (admittedly lovely) static images, it’s left to the voice acting, plot lines, and some good old British humour to engage the player in its Agatha Christie- and Sherlock Holmes-inspired yarn.
For the most part, Lord Winklebottom delivers. One of the first notable elements is the acting, with the entirety of the animal cast fully voiced with oh-so British accents. Bizarrely, it’s Lord Winklebottom himself who lets the side down in the opening moments: an overly stiff delivery coupled with a disregard for punctuation and a penchant for wordy explanations makes it difficult to warm to him. Thankfully, he stops giraffing around after a while and joins the other cast members in delivering suitably stellar performances steeped in humour and precise comic timing.
Item interaction is also important here – especially as it’s responsible for much of the puzzle-based gameplay. There are many inventive ways for items to be used or combined to overcome challenges. Some of them miss the mark a little, but by and large, solving the puzzles is enjoyable without ever feeling too taxing. What is taxing, though, is the cursor. Within seconds of playing, I was compelled to check the settings for a sensitivity slider. With no way to change the speed at which the cursor moves around the screen, you’re left to either hope for the best or to take far longer than you would like to select an on-screen option. This is at its worst when an item has two interactable options positioned closely together. Sadly, the calibration on the Switch touchscreen doesn’t fare much better, either.
Between the acting, humour, and puzzle design, there are moments of excellence in Lord Winklebottom. Charlotte Sutherland, founder of Cave Monsters and former Sumo, Rare, and EA developer, has crafted an eclectic mix of recognisable characters who play their roles well in the first two acts. The third act is where the story seems to lose its way, and after that, the mystery’s resolved a little too quickly for comfort.
Lord Winklebottom Investigates is both memorable and charming, then, but can leave you wanting. There’s enough here to enjoy it for what it is, but it’s unlikely to convert genre sceptics to the point-and-click cause. And for true fans of the genre, there are other, more refined experiences out there to be enjoyed.
The 2D hand-painted artwork really pops, with brightly coloured and detailed backdrops creating an intriguing and inviting atmosphere. A lot of care has been taken over the way Lord Winklebottom Investigates is presented, and nothing says ‘premium feel’ quite like hand-painted artwork.