Monday, October 18, 2010

Guilty Party (Wii)

Guilty Party was almost a stealth release in late August, and reviews have been somewhat mixed (average Metacritic score of 78).

We've been playing it (thanks Gamefly) for the last week, though, and there's a lot to like.

I've seen the game described as Disney meets Clue, and that's a fair description. In story mode, players are cooperatively solving a mystery, and each chapter takes place in a different location (for instance, a train). There are a number of locations, each of which may have a suspect to interrogate or a clue to investigate. Players gather clues, then fit those clues into different categories (height of suspect, build, sex, etc.),eventually accusing a suspect and hopefully solving the crime.

That's standard stuff, obviously, but there are some nice wrinkles. For one, the villain pops in randomly to screw things up--he might turn off the lights, or lock certain doors, causing mayhem in general. Plus, each player draws an action card at the beginning of the turn, which lets him bypass standard procedure in the game. For instance, it might enable him to bring a suspect in for interrogation, instead of having to find the suspect himself. Other cards enable you to counter what the villain has done, extend your turn, etc.

Each turn, whether you're investigating a clue or talking to a suspect, includes a mini-game. This is the weakest part of the game, because the mini-games are generally forgettable.  However, it doesn't really distract from the flow, as most of the games are simple enough to complete.

The writing is top-notch. It's very funny, and very stylish. Visually, it's just right--cartoony and colorful. Voice-acting is excellent. It's a very slick package, and very fun to play.

I didn't expect Eli 9.2 to like this game, but he does. It's fun to work together, he enjoys the comedy, and he is totally into solving the mysteries. It's not quite Monster Lab (which is really a kid classic), but he's asking me every day if we can play for a while.

So if you have kids in the 7-10 range, this is an excellent game for hanging out and playing together. For adults only, I'd say it's a rental first. Overall, though, it's a very strong effort.

One note. The game starts off the tutorial case, and it's slow. The "real" cases are much more entertaining, so just survive the tutorial and move along.

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