Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound: Rating:
Game Controls: Rating:
Replay Value: Rating:
Murder in the Hotel Lisbon follows the adventures of an unlikely duo, Detective Case and Clown Bot, as they try to solve a murder mystery. As a throwback point-and-click adventure, it contains quirky dialogue, item hunting, and puzzle solving. However, much of its logic doesn't seem to be as obscure or bizarre as older titles like The Secret of Monkey Island, making it both easier and more enjoyable, but it still has its fair share of problems.
As a point-and-click adventure, Murder in the Hotel Lisbon has players poking and touching around the screen to interact with their environment. They'll move in the direction of a click, dialogue is initiated by tapping a another character, etc. The problem with these control schemes in older games is that many players would get stuck having to "pixel hunt" to spot interactive items before having to move forward. To mitigate this issue, Murder in the Hotel Lisbon contains a magnifying glass feature that allows players to tap and hold to zoom in on sections of the environment. Once the magnifying glass moves over an object or person that can be interacted with, the person or object is highlighted so that it's clear what can and cannot be activated to help move the story along.
Decisions like this are sprinkled throughout, which overall makes it feel pretty fresh despite being a throwback. The smartest update to the puzzle-solving gameplay of older adventure games is that the developers did away with item combinations - at least in the traditional sense. Instead of having to try items on random people to see what can happen, the puzzle-solving here is almost entirely in the form of interrogations, which offer players limited answers that can be paired with items in order to reveal new information or plot points. By limiting the choices available the direction of the game is much easier for players to follow, and additional factors like character dynamics and dialogue delivery end up becoming more important than item combinations.
This new system isn't infallible, though. The interrogation mode actually creates some new frustrations. In every interrogation, players get to choose which of the two main characters does the talking, and there are times where - even when completing the interrogation completely right - players will have to replay it because they used the wrong character. Having to replay these scenes just because the wrong character was picked was more than a little frustration while playing - particularly toward the end of the game when these interrogations got longer and more complicated. If Murder in the Hotel Lisbon wasn't an adventure game, and thus had controls and mechanics that were intrinsically fun, this wouldn't necessarily a problem, but since it's mostly clicking on stuff, arbitrarily having to go back through sections of old story isn't exactly fun.
That being said, Murder in the Hotel Lisbon otherwise nails most of the things that brings players to old-school adventure games in the first place. The writing is pretty funny and charming, the art gives the whole package a nostalgic feel, and it tells an intriguing narrative to drive everything forward. It's certainly not perfect, but Murder in the Hotel Lisbon is a perfectly enjoyable adventure game.