Review | Women’s Murder Club: Death in Scarlet
Format: PC | Genre: Puzzle | Publisher: Avanquest | Developer: ValuSoft | Out now: £19.99
By J.D. Richardson
I think we’ve all had one of those days where you sit on the couch in your pants watching Diagnosis Murder because you can’t be bothered doing anything else. That’s what playing Women’s Murder Club: Death in Scarlet, the new hidden-object mystery game based on the short-lived TV series of the same name, is like.
The franchise was created by best-selling writer James Patterson, author of Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls, which some of you may remember being turned into films with Morgan Freeman. They were okay.
//Led by the hand
Women’s Murder Club is okay. It’s not brilliant, but it’s not terrible either. It’s just far too easy, and the story is so generic that it really is like an episode of Diagnosis Murder. There’s been a series of murders, and you have to solve puzzles to find out whodunnit. The problem is that you don’t really do anything of an investigative nature yourself, because the game just tells you what to do, all the time. Everything that’s important in a crime scene is pointed out for you. Say, for instance, you need to collect a blood sample. The game shows you where the blood is, and all you have to do is select a swab and then click on the blood.
Each crime scene has a number of different objectives to achieve, some of which make sense. Most don’t. First off, there’s a big list of hidden objects that you need to find in each location that, in most cases, don’t relate to the investigation in any way. Then you have to perform certain procedures to advance the story. These would work much better if your choices actually mattered, but they don’t. The game just says “do this, and now do that,” and you have to do it, otherwise the game doesn’t progress. Some of the puzzles can be quite fun to complete – like putting back together torn up photographs, or solving a Chinese picture puzzle – but it’s all very simple.
//Your mum joke
It’s not all bad, though. There’s a lot of quality here in the production values. Locations are well-drawn and hi-res, with lots of detail. The music is good too, sounding like the sort you get in 80s/90s cop movies, and it really does set the scene. And it’s actually quite relaxing – just like sitting in your pants watching daytime mystery soaps.
It’s not for the jaded lifelong gamer, and hardcore puzzle fans will be disappointed by the lack of challenge on offer here. The only thing that takes any real time and concentration is searching for the hidden objects. It could possibly be a good introduction to videogames for the older generation, though, which can’t be a bad thing. Your mum will love it.