App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of FMV games, although I like the idea of them. Stitching together video clips to create an interactive experience where you drive the action has such promise, but it's so difficult to pull off without a lot of repetition and trial and error. Even some of the more experimental efforts in this genre are guilty of this. Death Come True is a rare game in that it manages to tell a small story that justifies the minimal amount of repetition it forces you through over the course of play. In short, it's worth playing.
Before diving in, I just want to note that the developers atIzanagiGames have underscored multiple times their desire for Death Come True not to be spoiled. In keeping with this request, I'll avoid talking about any specifics of the narrative outside of the initial setup laid out in the first scene of the game. This setup involves a male protagonist waking up suddendly in a hotel room with no past memories, and viewing a disturbing news report that indicates he is a notorius serial killer.
As with most FMV games, you experience the entirety of Death Come True via video clips that make it seem as if you're watching a movie up until the point where you have some control over what happens next. In the case of this game, your influence over the story comes as direct control over the decision-making of the protagonist, and most of these decisions revolve around trying to recover your memories and figure out why you're in this mysterious hotel.
When you make decisions in Death Come True, your story branches out and reveals more information about what exactly is going on. Some of these story paths are dead ends, but the game cleverly justifies backtracking and thankfully avoids making you do too much of it. After going down particularly long rabbit holes, the game even rewinds and/or recuts scenes so you can fast-track your way back to where you were so you can make a different choice quickly and keep your momentum.
The other aspect that aids in this is the game's overall scope and pacing, which is intentionally small and dense. You're almost never overwhelmed with too many different story possibilities, and the game goes out of its way to justify its small and repetitive story structure through some specific story reveals that aren't exactly revolutionary, but are still fun in their own way.
Skip to the end
The innovative aspect of Death Come True is less in the content of its story (which is extremely conventional) and more in its execution. Every scene drops subtle clues and hints as to what's going on such that a careful observer can solve the mystery at the core of the game before the big reveal. It also manages to do this without having any gaping plot holes or narrative branches that conflict or bypass essential information, which happens all too often in games like these.
I will say though that I wasn't entirely satisfied with Death Come True's ending. In keeping with its small scale, the final decision comes up on you quickly and it seems pretty clear which choice the game wants you to make. It's also a bummer that this final choice is the only one you can't go back and change quickly. After making your final decision, you view the ending it gives you and erases your progress, forcing you to start all over again if you want to see how things could be different. Luckily, Death Come True lets you speed through scenes with a fast-forward button. Between that and the game's relatively short playtime, it's not a huge deal to replay Death Come True, but having to slog back through it doesn't feel like it adds much to the experience, either.
The bottom line
Death Come True is easily the best conventional FMV game I've played. It shows enough restraint and attention to detail that every scene (even the ones you sit through more than once) enhances the story. While its overall revelations aren't entirely original, it's refreshing to play a game like this that isn't constantly derailing or undermining its own narrative.