Lord Winklebottom Investigates Review: A Beastly Murder Mystery

From big budget titles like L.A. Noire through to thought-provoking indie releases like Return of the Obra Dinn, video game players are susceptible to solving this kind of mystery riddle as the rest of the general public. Lord Winklebottom Investigates, from developer Cave Monsters, delivers a classic mystery with one very obvious twist: its characters are animals.

Set in the 1920s, Lord Winklebottom Investigates is the story of an aloof giraffe detective - the titular Lord Winklebottom - and his devoted if gruff partner in crime-solving, the hippopotamus Dr. Frumple. A heinous murder has been committed, and it is up to Winklebottom and Frumple to solve the crime in a humorous story inspired by the likes of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. Taking the form of a point-and-click adventure game, it's a test of the player's puzzle-solving capabilities.

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The writing in Lord Winklebottom Investigates is one of its core strengths. Although laughs are the name of the game, the actual core mystery is lots of fun to solve, with plenty of red herrings (unfortunately not literally, given its cast of fauna) as it unravels a wider conspiracy. There is also snappy, comedic dialogue throughout, filled to the brim with animal puns, and it helps create a sense of the game's world and its period characters.

Lord Winklebottom Investigates Dialogue

Speaking of the characters, these stand-ins for the usual whodunnit selection have been expertly chosen. From the likes of a pelican stage performer passed her prime to a surly slug gardener, the list of suspects leads to plenty of strong lines of questioning and laughs alike. Meanwhile, Winklebottom and Frumple are splendid Holmes and Watson stand-ins.

Visually, Lord Winklebottom Investigates is also rather enjoyable, with every character and backdrop being hand-painted. Its setting is well-designed, with a manor house stuck on a secluded island, and every location on the island or in the house has a tone of its own. Meanwhile, its 2D characters are also very expressive, with their animation feeling similar to the cult classic BBC animated comedy series I Am Not An Animal.

That said, the game's structure in terms of locations does sometimes feel a little lop-sided. There is an awful lot of time spent within the manor house itself, and its various rooms, while there are less individual locations to be found across the rest of the island. This can lead to the odd pacing issue, or the awkward moment here and there of travelling across the island to grab an item to lug it back into the house to solve a puzzle.

Lord Winklebottom Investigates Plant Eating

This is in part down to the wider design of the title, which is very much in line with point-and-click adventure games of old. For some, this will be an absolute positive, with the same requirement to combine items together to resolve seemingly unconnected events, but for those less used to that method of gameplay it may feel a little difficult. This is far from the worst example of the traditional adventure game's inscrutability, and each puzzle does make sense in its own right, but the game's occasionally very specific progression route can feel like a bit of a hindrance.

In terms of Lord Winklebottom Investigates' Nintendo Switch release, the game runs as smooth as one could expect. The control using the console's Joy-Cons can be a little odd here and there, with movement of the cursor feeling a little slippery, but it's something that the player gets used to quickly. Meanwhile, the positive of the portability of the console more than makes up for it, as the game is a perfect choice to take on a long journey for a bit of brainpower-testing.

Overall, Lord Winklebottom Investigates is a delightful little adventure game. It may stick a little too close to gameplay genre tropes to comfort for some, but its cast of wonderful characters, strong humor, and traditional mystery story more than make up for those issues. A great choice for those who like the murder mysteries of yore.

Lord Winklebottom Investigates is out now for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Screen Rant was provided with a Switch download code for the purposes of this review.

2022-08-14T19:04:32.000Z

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