The Case of the Golden Idol is a well-crafted adventure game with retro appeal. It’s bound to enrapture those with the patience to delve into its mysteries!
- Title: The Case of the Golden Idol
- Release Date: Oct-13 2022
- Price: $17.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Late teens or adults (Note: Game hasn’t been rated by the ESRB)
- Availability: Steam
- Recommended for fans of: Point-and-click adventure games, murder mysteries
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
The Case of the Golden Idol is a murder-mystery point-and-click adventure game. The game is comprised of 12 cases that the player must solve by examining the crime scene and reconstructing what happened.
A Tale of Murder Most Foul
The Case of the Golden Idol tells the story of rival aristocratic families in the 18th century and their struggle to gain possession of a magical artifact. Each of the game’s cases advance you along the timeline of the Golden Idol’s history, from its initial discovery, all the way to the ultimate fate of the idol and those who covet it. These cases feature thefts, political wheeling and dealing, and of course, plenty of murders.
Unlike most point-and-click adventure games, Golden Idol features very little direct storytelling. Instead, the story is something you piece together from case to case by examining the evidence and asking yourself questions about what has changed over time. Who has the idol now? How have alliances changed? Who’s still left alive since the last case?
Gathering the Evidence
Gameplay in The Case of the Golden Idol is structured around two modes: Exploring and Thinking. In exploring mode, you view a scene frozen time just after the crime has been committed. By clicking points of interest in the scene, you can read documents, examine objects, get a statement from each witness, and see what items were in their possession at the time. Doing this allows the player to gather a set of keywords needed to solve the case.
In thinking mode, you are presented with panels containing diagrams, character portraits, and text full of blank spaces. By filling in the blanks with the keywords you’ve gathered, you reconstruct the sequence of events that took place during the crime and identify the culprit and their motives. Your deduction accuracy is evaluated each time you complete a thinking mode panel. Thus, it’s always clear when you’re on the right track or if your logic is flawed. The game also features a hint system in case you get stuck.
Solving the Mystery
The way Golden Idol is structured took me some time to get used to; it’s very different from other point-and-click adventures I’ve played! However, once it clicked with me, I found the process of scrutinizing every detail of the crime scene and then mapping out the sequence of events to be quite satisfying. At first, the cases start out quite elementary (my dear, Watson) with only a few witnesses and a single scene. In the later cases, however, the complexity builds with crime scenes spread out across multiple locations and involving up to a dozen suspects.
With the exception of a few puzzles that involved leaps in logic I wasn’t quite able to make, the game’s difficulty scaled well. Generally, by re-evaluating the evidence and any assumptions I had made, I was able to figure things out when I felt stuck. Thus, I rarely, if ever, felt the need to use the hint system once I understood how the game worked. On a few occasions, I used a guess-and-check approach to fill in blanks, only to realize afterward that the evidence I needed was staring me in the face the whole time. That’s an indicator of good mystery design!
I really appreciated the way that the game trusts the player to figure things out; it shows you things but almost never tells you things. This makes both the puzzle-solving and story-telling something you can piece together at your own pace. As a result, I found myself feeling personally invested, not only in solving the mysteries but also in the arcs of characters from case to case. This hands-off approach to game design really sets this game apart from most other modern adventure games!
The Case of the Golden Idol is the kind of cerebral adventure game that we don’t often get these days. Players with patience and attention to detail will find a lot to like here. The game’s old-school PC game aesthetic is also a nice throwback for those with a fondness for the adventure games of yesteryear. Fans of classic adventure games and murder mysteries definitely should not miss out on The Case of the Golden Idol!