Sunday, June 23, 2024

Marlon’s Mystery is a Short, Fun Visual Novel Promising More

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Without meaning to, I’ve gone down a slight rabbit hole for mystery focused visual novels with all three of the demos and reviews that I’ve recently written focusing on solving a mystery. Marlon’s Mystery: The Darkside of Crime from Spanish developers Made in Mavis and Cooking and Publishing is just that. Though short (with updates to come), Marlon’s Mystery is a lovely visual novel from a new developer and I’m really excited to see what the next update will bring!

Hired to solve the murder of Edward Taylor, the patriarch of a business family and to find his daughter, Eleanor the suspected killer, Abby Marlon and her assistant Jared Evans are challenged to solve the mystery and fast! Or they’re getting fired and blacklisted.

Gameplay is very straightforward with no save options or branching menus. Instead, Abby and Jared must investigate by traveling from room to room and location to location to speak with characters, observe and inspect the locations, and put clues together to deduce the connections and move forward. You can talk to some characters in a different order in the Taylor mansion or other locations but you cannot move forward or end the day until you’ve finished everything for that day.

In doing so, the game unfolds with side stories and mysteries. Why would Eleanor kill her father? Where did she disappear to with the inheritance money? If Eleanor didn’t kill her father, who did? Why? What larger mystery is lurking behind this violent crime?

Abby and Jared speaking. Abby says "This does not play in our favor, but it should not be a problem."
Abby and Jared in Edward’s room which was cleaned after the murder.

What I really enjoyed about playing Marlon’s Mystery is that the team gives the players a lot of clues for future updates and maybe cases? For example, we learn pretty quickly that Abby’s father was a detective who was investigating something very specific, and unfortunately died in the process. While Abby (and frankly anyone with sense) suspects he was murdered, the cops she spoke to were no help. We also meet another important character from Abby’s past, Marah who is also obviously her love interest which I love!

The cast itself is also pretty diverse considering a large chunk are the Taylor family themselves, and I look forward to the game’s universe expanding.

Flipping the usual male PI with his lady assistant by making Jared her assistant is also really deftly done. Jared has his own personality and actually serves as her voice of reason which I found hilarious. No Abby, you can’t just break into places for your investigations if you want things to end well!

Jared also writes down everything important which functions as the player’s case book.

The casebook open showing items with a portrait of a young woman in Marlon's Mystery

Once you get through the introduction in the game, you’ll find the deduction board, map, and backpack icons. Within the backpack are the items collected, important pieces of information from characters, and the deductions as you finish them.

Deductions are only possible once you’ve collected the items needed and finished talking to various characters so pay attention to what everyone says! As you look for items, sometimes the areas will sparkle and when you find out something important, there is an audible chime.

The deductions board with red string connecting items, clues, and notes.

The deduction board is also a lot of fun. There is actually enough space to put everything you collect throughout the game, but for ease of actually using it, I usually erased items once I was done using them. Still it’s a lot of fun to create a literal murder board in the game!

I really enjoyed playing Marlon’s Mystery. The mystery that starts the game has some wild twists and turns even if they might be expected by anyone who has read or watched anything with mysteries. I am also super intrigued by Abby and Marah’s relationship and want to know what happened to her dad! Plus the music and art are both so lovely. I really hope the developers get to make more in the game.

You can grab Marlon’s Mystery today on Steam and Switch!

Images and review copy courtesy of Made in Mavis

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