A masquerade ball, a series of murders, and a single night. These are the ingredients for The Sexy Brutale, a new horror/mystery game for the PS4. In this game, you play as Lafcadio Boone, an attendee at The Sexy Brutale casino's masked ball.
You are trapped in a loop of the same day, forced to try and alter the fate of the other guests as they are all mysterious killed in some form. Does this intriguing premise take a gamble and win big, or does the house take all and leave us with nothing? Let's find out!
One Day, Many Mysteries
The Sexy Brutale places you in the stately shoes of Lafcadio Boone. Having been chosen by the mysterious Bloody Girl, he soon finds a pocket watch that gives him the ability to rewind the day and relive it as many times as he wants.
With this power, you're task is to save the other attendees of the ball, and find out who or what is behind it all. From the beginning, the game's story sets a dark tone. The Bloody Girl herself is in fact drenched in blood and sinks into a pool of it when she's finished talking to you.
The various murders in the game happens in all kinds of different ways. As you explore the areas of the mansion open to you, you'll find out more about the characters that you're trying to save. Whether it's overhearing a conversation, or communing with the spirits that live in the building, the game is always intriguing.
As you save more people, the game opens up at a steady pace. More and more of the mansion is available to you, and your knowledge continues to grow. Thankfully, rewinding time does not take away knowledge, only physical objects you collected throughout the day.
While not constant, the story of The Sexy Brutale is very interesting. The victims manage to feel like real people, despite the little time you spend with each of them. Part of this comes from the exposition, but another part comes from their names, their nicknames, and their iconic masks.
Each time you save someone, another piece of the puzzle is revealed to you. It manages to make one single day feel fresh over and over again, while also keeping your interest high throughout. You're constantly wondering who is the mastermind of the murders, why you're repeating this day, and what the ultimate purpose is behind it all.
The Sexy Brutale manages to tackle murder, the supernatural, and time travel without flinching. It's incredibly unique and very well thought out in this regard. How does the gameplay compare? Read on, dear reader.
A Familiar Day Filled With New Events
While The Sexy Brutale does technically take place over the course of a single day, its design brilliantly counteracts the inherent repetition that this could easily cause.
The game cleverly locks away parts of the mansion until you progress, offering new sights and puzzles as the game goes on. These blockages are organic, limited only by the abilities your posses.
For example, say you can't get to a new area because there are locks on the doors. Well, when you save one of the people, you get their mask. These masks bestow new abilities on you based on the personality and skills of the people you saved.
So, you may get the ability to undo those locks further on, which opens up more of the mansion to explore. In the meantime, you're able to explore the mansion that's available to you and find out more about the person or people you're trying to save. Sometimes it's one, and sometimes two people are both at stake.
You can peek through doors to watch the fate of your target, and avoid hostile enemies, or you can hide in wardrobes to spy on the events that happen in a room.
Sometimes you'll also need items to save your target or targets. These items can be found scattered through the various rooms of the mansion. While the items disappear when you rewind, the knowledge you gain during your travels never leaves.
This can be viewed on your map at any time, which helps you piece together the events. Being able to watch the act, rewind, and look for ways to change the outcome is what makes The Sexy Brutale so engaging to play.
Some of the solutions may seem simple, but often you'll have to navigate a series of small tasks to get there. You may simply need to pull a switch to save a life, but finding out when to pull it, why, and where the switch even is, is all part of the fun.
Thankfully, The Sexy Brutale encourages trial and error by giving you unlimited uses of your time traveling pocket watch. Spending your time hunting collectible playing cards, or hunting for clues, will never be used against you, because you can always reset the day.
You can also use the game's save points (grandfather clocks) to change where you spawn, thus making it easier to quickly get into investigating as the day resets.
While it seems complicated, the controls of The Sexy Brutale make all of this simple. You can wander around at a decent pace and interact with objects, doors, and items. You're also able to cycle through items and use them when needed.
Beyond this, your abilities from the masks you acquire are passive or triggered based on their use. That's about it. It's a tight and simple control scheme that lets you use your brain more than your reflexes.
The concept of replaying the same day over and over seems like something that would be a slog. The Sexy Brutale is the farthest thing from that. Through its simple controls, clever mysteries, and well thought out design, it keeps things fresh.
I can't overstate how difficult it is to make something inherently repetitive exciting, but it's a credit to the developers at Cavalier Game Studios that they were able to take this premise and create something amazing and wholly unique.
If there's anything I would knock about the gameplay, it's just some nitpicks. For example, sometimes when I'm running from enemies, the doors don't open with the first button press.
Other times, I just wish I could walk a little bit faster. Still other times, I wish I could get a hint when I'm stuck and completely lost. All of these things pale in comparison to the flow of the gameplay though. It's one day, with many mysteries, and trust me, you'll be eager to solve them all.
Stylish Presentation Oozes Atmosphere
The Sexy Brutale has a semi-isometric camera that gives you a raised view of the events happening in the game. The characters all have a kind of miniature look to them, but that doesn't stop the game from showing some disturbing imagery.
The environments are detailed as well, with various areas all getting their own unique look. This is paired with some excellent music that sets the perfect tone for each situation. Whether it's haunting piano, or something more upbeat, the soundtrack does wonders for the atmosphere.
Another aspect of the game that I really enjoyed, was the fact that you could hear other murders taking place as you explored and monitored your current target. Remember, even though you've saved them, the day rewinds.
Sometimes it's a gunshot, other times it's the shattering of glass as someone goes out a window, but the level of detail on display here is simply stunning. It feels like one day, polished to perfection.
I can't think of many days I would want to relive over and over, but The Sexy Brutale is one day that you should repeat.
Final Score: 9.0/10
A copy of The Sexy Brutale was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 4/22/17