The Shapeshifting Detective is an FMV game. This is from the same studio as The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker and is the followup title.
An FMV game is mostly about having a live actor talk directly to the camera and player and act out their role, then the player has some level of interactivity. In The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, it was a complex language system where it tries to parse questions from the viewer and respond, though that system didn’t work exactly as promised. The Shapeshifting Detective took a step back from that and created a better framework, and it’s a huge improvement.
I’m Kinglink and it’s time to look at the Humble Choice for September 2020.
Simple rules, I played each game for at least an hour, and now I’m ready to tell you what I think. However, this month I made a small change. I randomized the order that I played the games. I often preferred games that I played earlier, so I wasn’t sure if it’s just because they were the headliners or just preferable. Either way, I’ll leave the play order in the description, but the results seem to say it didn’t change my opinions, however, I’ll probably continue to do that because I like the mixture.
And once again premium and classic subscribers get 12 games instead of ten. I’m a huge fan of that. I don’t prefer the choice, and getting all the games is a better deal. With the two bonus games we are talking about 14 games this month, so let’s get started.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is an FMV game where players take on the role of a psychiatrist and sees several patients.
Oddly on the first day, the player finds out that the previous psychiatrist was brutally murdered potentially by one of his patients, strange because that seems to be something that probably should have come up during the interview process.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker focuses on the player having sessions with multiple patients and through them learning about the patient’s lives and previous doctor, the titular Doctor Dekker. The core of the experience is to try to solve who murdered Doctor Dekker and try to steer the lives of the patients.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is an FMV game and what that means is everything is a video, so similar to Her Story or Telling Lies, every response to a question will be a video. There are several actors in The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, and they all do a very good job with the material. Their acting and the presentation of the responses are what drew me into the game and the story keeps me interested in finding out what would happen next.
Doctor Dekker’s patients are not typical of psychiatrists, in fact of the five initial patients, each has a unique and interesting story claiming some supernatural ability. These abilities are quite reasonable, one character claims he gets an extra hour each day, and another claims she can charm people. There’s nothing outlandish as a typical comic book superpower, but instead realistic powers that could also be forms of mental illness.
What’s interesting though is that Doctor Dekker starts this process by playing it very ambiguous with characters just presenting their problems and their initial thoughts of Doctor Dekker. Over time though the story continued and I saw more and more of .. well the madness promised by the game. The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker has some clever scenes that will make players wonder what they just saw. I’m quite impressed with the experience and fell in love with the game as I played.
There are a few issues with the experience. While the game pushes the idea of natural discussion between you and patients, it’s very clear that the game has very specific ideas about what you would be asking. If the patent says “I hope you’re not a psycho” You could respond “Psycho” “I’m not a psycho” “you are a Psycho” or more, and the game will take each response as if you said the keyword “Psycho”.
Your spelling will also matter and there are a few words that are a bit particular even to someone who loves the written word. The game also has a decent amount of Britishisms, such as the word lorry for a truck that comes up early in one character’s story. It’s not a huge problem, but American players will feel this game is clearly from another country from some of the phrases the characters use.
What’s interesting is that players can make a few choices along the way in their responses to players, perhaps suggesting patients push their powers to the limits or avoid using their powers. These choices appear to mostly focus on minor changes during the next day’s session, which is a bit of a shame because the actual results are underwhelming. The game uses these choices to summarize the entire story at the end, but sadly, I found these to be lacking.
At the end of the game you’re expected to have found the killer, while this is random in each game, the choice in my game was a bit obvious. She was the only killer who made sense. The experience of the randomized killer is acceptable if a bit gimmicky. From there though, the player gets follow-up videos on each character.
Much of The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker hinges on the ambiguous nature of the story. While all the characters may have powers beyond what we consider normal, it’s also possible some of them may have other issues masquerading as these powers, and that’s what made the story interesting for me.
The issue I have with the ending is rather than leave the story open, it tries to strip the ambiguous nature of the story away, so players feel they have a definitive ending. There are two endings per character, but neither improves the story. There’s also a generic ending for the character you’re playing and those don’t make a lot of sense.
The fact is if I was to consider the game before the finale, I’d probably give this game a 9 or even higher because the experience was so well handled and delivered, and at the end of the game I wanted more.
The problem is these finales end the experience and leaves the player with too much closer. Your story is done, there are no questions to ask. Time to go play something else.
It’s a game that probably could have been 10 minutes shorter and been a whole lot more enjoyable.
Because of the endings, I give The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker a
I still recommend this for fans of Visual Novels or anyone who enjoyed Her Story or Telling Lies, but I would recommend both of those games over this.
If you want more of my opinions on The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, you can find that on a video I recently did comparing this game to Her Story that is available here:
Telling Lies is from Sam Barlow who previously made Her Story, a very popular indie game that is worthy of quite a bit of praise. Telling Lies is promised to be bigger, better, and more in-depth and it has succeeded at that.
Telling Lies focuses on David Smith, as he has moved across the country for work… ok that’s not exactly it, the problem with Telling Lies is similar to Her Story’s issue. The entire game is driven by the narrative and ultimately the discovery of that narrative is crucial to the game. There’s not a huge gameplay system or a separate puzzle, it’s about how the player discovers and learns about the story and the slow reveal of it, and thus much of the story is a spoiler.
I’m Kinglink and this week we’re talking about Her Story as well as some other FMV games including Late Shift, The Infectious Madness of Dr. Dekker, and Telling Lies.
Long time fans of the channel may realize I have a fondness for stories in video games and have enjoyed many visual novels, including Eliza, the first two Danganronpa, and more due to their stories. Yet I often feel that stories and narratives are poorly done in the video game industry, usually relying on how movies and books tell stories without considering the interactive nature of the medium.