Title: The Case Book of Arne
Developer: Vaka Game Magazine, HARUMURASAKI
Release Date: October 29, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
RPG Maker is quite a prolific tool that can be used not only for RPGs (as the name suggests) but also to create games of other genres. The Case Book of Arne is one of those games, making use of the software to create an intriguing first title in a murder mystery adventure series.
The Case Book of Arne tells the story of Lynn Reinweiß, a noble girl whose mother died two years ago. Her father continues to grieve and deny the event, acting as if she were still alive. His health has been deteriorating over time, and he’s been clearly unable to control the household, forcing Lynn to act as the composed young woman in her position as an heir would demand.
She learns of a serial murder case happening in town and, after seeing her father going out, she decides to follow him. On the way, she finds two corpses and a person in a brown coat. Afraid of what could happen to herself, she runs for her life and ends up in a dark and mysterious place. There she discovers the coffin of the vampire detective Arne Neuntöte, whom she recruits to investigate what’s going on. After some debate, the two begin investigating the bizarre incidents and how they’re related to a mysterious death.
Not spoiling the story details, the plot is quite interesting and has good twists along the way, which is what I was looking forward to. Besides the whole mystery, it offers some comic relief, especially with Lynn being a “vampire otaku” whose fascination for those dark lords can be a little overwhelming at times. It also features a compelling drama as the girl learns what’s really going on and develops a partnership with Arne and Zisye, a werewolf who exists inside mirrors.
The Case Book of Arne consists of three chapters focused on the same case. The first chapter offers a look into the world and its characters, and the second gives more details around the case as the protagonists investigate what happened more thoroughly. By the end of the second chapter, the player is guaranteed to have all the puzzle pieces. Figuring out the killer is totally possible by then, but that doesn’t resolve too easily. The third chapter is the grand finale, focusing on revealing everything and using some extra theatrics, like making a fake courtroom battle for dramatic flair.
Though most of the gameplay is composed of dialogue, the game offers more than just interacting with characters and objects. There are small stealth segments, and, at some points, it’s possible to use Arne’s powers, turning him into a bat or fog or manipulating his blood to make a puppet show and analyze the crime.
Lynn also has to point out what’s wrong with people’s testimonies and do some other investigation-related minigames. None of them are hard or complicated to deal with, but they add some good variety to the game. However, I have to point out I had issues with some small bugs.
In a specific segment, Lynn has to pick cards that represent two suspects’ situation, but instead of being spread over the screen, some cards are on top of each other. Elements of the interface in a different minigame also didn’t show up as intended, making it harder to know what to do. However, those issues are the exception rather than the rule.
By completing some of those minigames without getting anything wrong, the player will be rewarded with a small extra in chapter 2, and the same can be said for chapter 3. It’s also possible to obtain twelve books (actually just a few words, nothing big) by interacting with objects on those chapters. Those are mostly insignificant, but it’s still a nice touch to have them as the game is quite linear and simple.
Another interesting plus is the art of supernatural events. It includes effects like a vampire’s red eyes, a blood web covering the screen, and a dark area with multiple hands coming from the top. Some scenes with unique illustrations can be quite stylish, like a red-and-black depiction of the vampire detective.
The Case Book of Arne is a delightful murder mystery that successfully mixes lighthearted comedy moments with intriguing plot twists and darker narrative elements. Through a variety of minigames and some use of supernatural powers, it makes for an engaging gameplay experience as well despite being a little too simple in that aspect. Linearity makes the game feel a little hollow, without much to do besides the main plot beats during its minimal time of only about 6 hours. Still, the characters grew on me, and I’m very excited to see what the next cases in the series will be and where they’ll take Lynn and Arne.
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