Just by reading the title of the game, you would expect some unusual weirdness going on – never would you expect it to heavily involve Time Travel, but The Sexy Brutale takes traditional 3D puzzle games and flips it on its head…time and time again.
The initial starting sequence to this title introduces you to the mechanics of the game and gives you a little ‘push’ in the right direction to the way you’re supposed to approach the puzzles, giving you a unique and interesting way to solve them, not seen in games of this genre before.
You begin by waking up in a room of The Marquis Mansion. You’re a guest in this mansion, and so are most of the other characters you encounter. However, all the guests are wearing masks who are under the control of some staff member working at the mansion a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Your mask, on the other hand, has been given to you by what seems to be a mysterious blood-like spirit that gives you the ability of being exempt from any harm from any of the other guests. This means that it’s down to you to explore the mansion and uncover this sexy murder mystery cliché of a game.
With that being said, you have another crucial item at your disposal that this bizarre spirit gives you: The pocket watch. This watch gives you the ability to rewind time back to the start of the day in this never-ending loop of murders. This adds a new layer of puzzles that might seem illogical at first, but once you start rewinding time, the puzzles gradually make sense and become more…well logical. For example, you might spy through the keyhole and see a guest scrambling for items, dropping a blank bullet on the floor at 2pm and then leaves. You see that the murderer picks up the musket in another room at 3pm and attempts and succeeds in killing his victim at 4pm. You rewind time, and wait patiently for a guest scrambling for items, dropping a blank bullet on the floor at 2pm and then leaves. You enter the room and pick up the bullet. You return to the room with the musket, replace the bullets with the harmless blank bullet and hide in the nearby wardrobe. You see that the murderer picks up the musket at 3pm and attempts and fails in killing his victim at 4pm.
This game also relies heavily on stealth, requiring you to listen through doors to see when someone is approaching the room or hiding in wardrobes. Like any good eavesdropper, you also get to make the secondary use of what you would call a keyhole – looking through them. Spying through keyholes though only allows you to see certain angles of the room, so you may witness the murder of a guest, along with any conversations they have, but you won’t see the murderer or how they are murdered. But by this time, you’re too late and thus you must rewind time and investigate the death by alternate methods. You might find another room adjacent to that of the room where the death happens, but this time you might see more of the events that happen and see the murderer and how they kill the guest. Whilst this gives you more insight to the murder, alas you are too late again, therefore more jumping back is required.
The Marquis mansion is no Punxsutawney, but the intelligent and deep puzzles keeps you on your toes. With each guest you save, you are awarded new abilities or upgrades whether it’s new eavesdropping techniques or a pocket watch upgrade, gradually gaining more control of time and the full 24 hours of the day. And the more lives you save, the harder the puzzles become and more thought-provoking, setting in plenty of frustration. By the end of it you’ll be taking a few chapters out of Phil’s book from Groundhog Day hoping to break the loop of this sexy nightmare.
The Sexy Brutale is available to download digitally from the Xbox Store, priced at £15.99.
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An excellent use of time-travel mechanics for solving puzzles, set in a lush expansive mansion full of guests that are murderous – but not actually ‘them’, turns this into an unnecessary convoluted story.