Gaming is a diverse medium, but most video games seem obligated to involve murder in one form or another. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see games that focus on something other than violent gameplay, such as story, puzzles, and whatever else this interactive medium can provide to players. Nowadays, there are several episodic games take advantage of the medium very well by placing emphasis on the interactive aspects rather than the combative ones. Do you know what game is pretty good without being combat-focused? Not Peter Moorhead’s Murder.
Peter Moorhead’s Murder, brought to us by Curve Digital and, more importantly, Peter Moorhead, is an Android adventure game with point-and-click elements and not much going for it. You play as Motomeru Minori, a member of Tokyo’s police force who investigates a homicide. You then find out that it was an android who committed the crime because it thinks that humans are not worthy enough to be the dominant life forms on earth. Sounds like an interesting premise, right? You’re right! Apologies are in order, though. That was actually a synopsis of the entire plot. If you’re wondering whether that’s a joke or not, it isn’t.
From what I had read beforehand, I knew that Murder was short, but I was not prepared for a game that took as long to finish as an episode of Seinfeld, and that’s without commercials. It’s arguable that Murder’s low price excuses its brevity, but it lacks too much substance for this to be the case. Gameplay consists of tapping markers and watching cutscenes over and over for twenty minutes. The last third of the game is even repeated in an unsuccessful attempt to pad out the story. Calling this a point-and-click Android adventure game gives Murder too much credit as the experience would be no different if every interactive object were replaced with a “Play Next Cutscene” button.
From a gameplay perspective, Murder will disappoint those with even the lowest of expectations, but it’s not a complete failure. Aesthetically, it’s a masterpiece. The atmospheric soundtrack fits the cyberpunk world perfectly, which seems to be inspired by Blade Runner. The absolute best part of this game is its visual presentation. The game portrays a grimy, technologically advanced Tokyo in a retro style, and the results are just marvelous. It’s simultaneously sleek and gritty, which aids the barebones story. As you can see, nearly every single frame would be an incredible wallpaper. It’s a shame that the artists were wasted on this game.
Peter Moorhead’s Murder is essentially a half-hour television episode that has you tapping the screen every so often. The story is almost intriguing, but players will be bogged down by the awkward voice acting and overly simplistic gameplay. The visuals are fantastic and will make you yearn for them to be used for a better game. Murder feels more like the prologue to an actual game than an entire game on its own. As it stands, you’re better off searching for screenshots and enjoying those instead.
Is it Hardcore?
No, it's not.
Incredible aesthetics cannot save Peter Moorhead’s Murder from being a shallow experience that won’t even last half an hour.