Methods: Detective Competition review
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Methods: Detective Competition review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on March 19th, 2024
Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SILLY START
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This quirky detective visual novel is the charming start to a lengthy adventure.

Developer: Erabit Studios

Price: $2.99
Version: 1.0.9
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

Something I had an epiphany about last year was why so many visual novels go out of their way to lose focus or just get a bit goofy with their storytelling thanks to PARANORMASIGHT's deficiencies in that department. Methods: Detective Competition has no problem doing this while being strange from the jump, and it makes for a jarring entry into what ulimately becomes a charming adventure, at least for being the opening chapter in a larger series.

Mysterious mystery competition

As its name implies, Methods: Detective Competition, is a story about super sleuths who have been gathered together to try and decide who is the greatest detective of them all. This creates a structure where you are regularly investigating staged crime scenes and using deductive reasoning, but as you go you also start to peel back layers about the competition, the people in it, and why it's being organized to begin with, which ends up serving as a larger mystery and driving force for the game.

If you've played any visual novel games before, the gameplay should be entirely familiar. For the most part, you are simply tapping to advance dialog between characters, though for investigation segments you may need to tap on points of interest or make dialog choices to lock in your deductions. There is a fail state for arriving at the wrong conclusions, but this game makes it very easy to reverse course and change your choices to keep the story flowing.

Curious characters

The plot setup is not the only aspect of Methods: Detective Competition that feels odd. Every character in this game is full of quirks and mannerisms in a way that is borderline offputting at first, but--by the time I finished this first game's twenty chapters--they turn into endearing qualities that also lead to some legitimately funny moments.

To match these strange personality traits, all of the game art is similarly cartoonish, with many characters often seeming misshapen or even warped. I wouldn't say this style really suits my tastes, but it does a great job of meshing with the writing style and solidifying the overall tone of the game, while also making it visually distinct from any number of other visual novel mysteries with more conventional character art.

Playing the long game

Methods: Detective Competition is a port of a PC game that came out 2020, and it's more or less the same game with one important distinction: This release on iOS is just the first part of a much larger game. As noted in the App Store description, buying this app version for $2.99 grants access to the first 20 chapters of a game that spans 100 chapters total.

For the price, this is definitely worth it, but it is important to note that there isn't a satisfying close to playing this game as a standalone experience. By the end of Methods: Detective Competition, I have more questions than answers about the mystery competition. Luckily for Erabit Studios, I am interested in seeing where things go from there.

The bottom line

Methods: Detective Competition is an enjoyable and intriguing opening to a much larger narrative that will come to iOS in the future. If this game is any indication, though, I can expect more zany reveals, clever mini-mysteries, and some pretty funny jokes and bits that are all broken down into manageably-sized chapters.

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