The Sexy Brutale - It's Sexy, It's Brutal, It's Video GAEMZ

I guess this lo-fi look is something I'm going for now?

Guess that's one way to spoil a review, huh? Just right there in the headline. Why even bother reading if you already know I liked it? Interesting thought experiments aside, let's dive into this neat little indie game.

I had seen gameplay of The Sexy Brutale several months ago and I was instantly hooked on it. The only problem at the time was being dirt poor(Story of my life). So eventually I acquired some funds, and also the game went on sale so I bought it.

I actually end up missing out on some of these games due to them only being available digitally. I use gamefly for all of my gaming shit since I've been far too poor for far too long, and will probably continue being poor. So being able to rent games means I'm definitely able to get my hands on the big triple-a games, but miss out on a lot of very interesting smaller titles, like this one. More on the game below.

The game is a time-traveling murder mystery in which you play a priest who has been chosen by a woman covered entirely in blood. She says there's mystery afoot, and the house staff tonight have been infiltrated and replaced by bloodthirsty thugs and it's up to you(the player) to save them from being horribly murdered.

You have been given the power over time itself by using a cool magical pocketwatch which allows you to turn back the clock to the start of the day. And from here, you must travel through the mansion and save the guests from certain death. See, all of the guests and even the house staff, and you as well, are all wearing these interesting masks to obscure their identities. Kind of like the parties my parents used to go to when I was a kid. Except once you save a guest, you acquire a special power which allows you to enhance your abilities and even give you neat little tricks.

The game takes place in a large mansion with many intertwining and connecting passage ways which makes navigating a challenge. There's also a time mechanic, since it is a time traveling game and all. Let a guest die and you'll have to restart from the beginning of the day. You must take what you've learned from how they are killed to figure out the numerous puzzles found within the world and figuring out which items work in which ways.

Unfortunately I'm a complete fucking idiot so I ended up making the game much harder for myself by not understanding that you can choose which grandfather clock to start the day from. See, there are these big grandfather clocks spread out all over the mansion, and you find these wind-up, uh, things, which can wind up the grandfather clocks. Essentially "activating" them so you can then say "When I restart the clock, I want to start the day here". Except I did not know how to do that even after the game tells you how.

So I made things pretty needlessly hard for myself by literally running all over the goddamn mansion trying to save guests from their doom. So a large part of the frustration that this game gave me was actually just my own damn fault. Learn from my mistakes.

The thing that's so fascinating about the game is the presentation and the writing, and the music, and the story, and, well, it's all pretty great. They were going for that glitzy ballroom dance masquerade up beat jazzy swing house band approach to the visual design of the game and the soundtrack as well. It's a refreshing approach that takes you right into a good ol' time of trying to solve some murders and also get frustrated when you walk into a room and the soundtrack changes from something rad to something atmospheric.

I'm an idiot, which I'm pretty sure we've determined by now. And so I'm usually bad at puzzle games to a degree in which I just generally avoid them all together, but when it comes to The Sexy Brutale I just couldn't resist. It's so charming in the writing and the story, and, well, you don't get to spend a whole lot of time with the characters you save, but they manage to cram pack so much character and personality into them. Especially some of the evil house guests. They usually don't have a lot to say, but it comes off very effective when they do say something particularly evil.

There's actually one issue I have with the game, and it's the ending. I want everyone to play this so I'll be light on the spoilers, but it was something I struggled with after beating the game and ultimately I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending. I either hated it or I loved it. It's very divisive and polarizing so it makes me feel... feelings, I suppose.

Everything else is great though. I quite enjoyed the time-crunch when racing against the clock hoping to god I can figure out the puzzle before I have to watch some nice people be viciously murdered. Actually, that's something that I think is very effective in this game. The death dialog, and it's all text based, no voice acting to be had, is almost kind of realistic in the ways that these people often beg for their life. Or so I've heard. And by "so I've heard" I mean I've heard other people talking about, because, you know, I'm not a serial killer.

It's extremely sobering and very sad to have to see people die and beg for their lives and say goodbye to their friends(Where available). It made me feel very uncomfortable and in turn fuel my desire to help and save people from actually certain death.

There's no combat in the game. You use keyholes to peek inside of rooms and even have the ability to "listen" out to a certain range, which allows you to pick up on where people are or are moving to. Because, and this is one of the big mechanics of the game, you cannot be in the same room as one of the guests or bad guys. So you have to figure out these puzzles while also being mindful of the schedules that these entities have. They move around, talk to one another, and will even interact with certain items throughout the world. It's an interesting balancing act that comes together very tightly when you navigate around completing these puzzles. At least until you forget to pull a slot machine handle and ruin a good run like an asshole. BUT WHO WOULD MAKE THAT MISTAKE?

If you are caught in a room with another entity, their mask will float upwards into the air and then make a b-line for you which will I guess slowly kill you. So you must leave the room as soon as possible. You are also not allowed to interact with anything save for a door or exit so it's not possible to cheese anything.

Since time travel is a big emphasis on the game, anything you pick up and have not used will be reset once you travel back in time. So you have to manage your items and other such things you pick up if you plan on going back any time soon, or else you'll just have to pick them back up. It wasn't too much of a burden in my playthrough of the game so it never bothered me. It just added more layers to the strategy by forcing you to actually remember shit, which I am bad at.

All in all I quite enjoyed the game. It has a fantastic presentation and even if the ending left me a little iffy, or, rather, unsure of my feelings, I recommend this beautiful game to anyone who would have it.

I give it a score of...

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".


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