App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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I'm a fan of adventure games, but whenever one gets a little too obscure with its puzzle design, I generally just stop playing. In recent years, it seems like adventure game developers have moved to make this less of a problem in a lot of different ways. In the case of Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze, it's an adventure game that feels like the investigation portions of a Phoenix Wright game, but with a case that's pretty cut-and-dry and puzzles that are mostly very easy to solve, at least in its first episode. Although it is a very straightforward experience, there are a couple surprises in the game and some nice characters that make me interested to see what could be next in this episodic series.
Investigate down under
For those that may not be aware, Miss Fisher is actually based on an Australian book series and TV show set in the 1920s about a glamorous private detective named Phryne Fisher. As might be expected, you play Miss Fisher as Phryne, and the game begins with a murder mystery falling right into your lap.
Playing Miss Fisher largely revolves around you moving between locations, talking with people, and examining the environment, much like most traditional adventure games. This game differentiates itself a little bit by being heavily menu-based though, and it also features a “Deduction” mechanic where you can combine pieces of evidence to reach new conclusions and open up new parts of the story.
Throughout your investiagtion in Miss Fisher, you meet a whole host of characters, some of whom are suspects and some of whom help you out in some way. Through these interactions, you also end up learning quite a bit about Phryne, who–as it turns out–is a really strong and interesting character.
Perhaps this is no surprise, considering she's a character from an established series of books, but Phryne's charisma really made every interaction in the game feel worth it. I was always excited to see what she was going to say or do next, and not just looking for the next puzzle.
As remarkable as Phryne and her compatriots are, Miss Fisher's first episode involves an otherwise unremarkable murder mystery with some extremely easy puzzle solving thrown in. There are moments in the game that have implications for other plot lines in subsequent episodes that are intriguing, but the main details of the case solved in this first episode are both uninteresting and completely predictable.
Moreover, a lot of the puzzle-solving in Miss Fisher both really simple and heavily hinted at in character dialogue. This makes the whole experience move along swiftly, but I was hoping there'd be some meatier mechanics in the game somewhere. To help add some variety to the game, Miss Fisher has some hidden items that you can find to unlock new outfits for Phryne, but these are also painfully easy to find.
The bottom line
The characters and menu-based design of Miss Fisher are really special aspects of an otherwise middling adventure game. Considering this, I'm not sure I would really recommend Miss Fisher unless its subsequent episodes present some more interesting plots and puzzles.