MMM Review: A Visual Novel About A Murder Most Misfortunate
MMM: Murder Most Misfortunate is a visual novel adventure created by Foolish Mortals, a small independent game studio based out of Canada. The game takes place in an old, secluded mansion where an evening party is happening. The party is brought to a halt when a murder occurs, and you are the prime suspect! It’s up to you to search for clues, interrogate the other guests, and unmask the real killer before you take all the blame.
Spoiled Before It Began
Before I even got into the game, some of the story was already spoiled -- not from reading a review or looking at a guide, but from the very store page for the game on Steam. It flat out tells you you’re the prime suspect for the murder in the description, which the feature list reinforced by saying you can blame someone else for the murder so you can get off the hook. That little fact is something I’ll discuss later in the review.
Overall, I think the developer should have left out this piece of information from the description; it would have had a greater impact on you as a player if suddenly the story had taken a terrible turn against you without you knowing it beforehand.
Can You Make It In Time?
One of the featured mechanics in this visual novel is the timer. You have about an hour and fifteen minutes to solve the murder. If you don’t find the killer in time or are unable to prove someone else killed the victim, you are carted off to jail instead. This gives you a nice challenge and keeps you on your toes so you don't just loll around the game at an easy pace.
But in case you don’t like feeling rushed to complete the game, you can uncheck the box that appears when starting a new game. This option turns off the time and allows you to have all the time in the world to find the killer.
Were You Looking For This?
There is a search mechanic in the game. It’s nothing pivotal -- you simply hover your mouse cursor over various objects looking for the red spot that tells you can interact with it. Some dialogue will play and you’ll either continue on with your search, or with the story if you’ve found the object you were looking for. They explain this mechanic fairly well in the game, so it's an engaging way to interact with the world as you try and solve its mystery.
The story isn’t half bad -- if a little too short for my tastes. It’ll take you about an hour or two to complete, depending on how fast you’re you’re going through the dialogue and if you’re trying to beat the timer. With the timer off, you’ll have the chance to explore every nook and cranny, which will likely lengthen the time it takes to complete the game. Despite the diminutive length of the story, though, it was still engaging, well-written, and rather humorous at times.
The characters were rather intriguing, but I can’t tell if that’s the writing or the voice acting -- maybe it’s a bit of both. The game has fully voiced dialogue with talented voice actors for each of the characters. The VA’s did a phenomenal job bringing out the personalities and quirks of their characters. I think my favorite by far is Prince Titanico.
A Pictures Worth a Thousand Words
Admittedly the hand drawn art wasn’t entirely to my tastes; there were only a few characters I liked the design of, while the rest were kind of ‘Meh.' The different backgrounds were good, and you could tell just by looking at them that the developer took their time to create each room or area. However, having 3D backgrounds made the characters feel a bit out of place. I think 2D environments would have served better here. Granted, I know other visual novel games have had a mixture of both, but it just didn’t seem to work for MMM.
Play Us a Song
There’s not much to say here. The music was good and fit the theme of the game well.
Finding the True Killer...
...seems pointless. As I mentioned earlier, you can blame the murder on someone else so you can get off the hook -- even if they are innocent. And before you say “OMG where’s the spoiler warning!?”, this information is also something that the description mentions on the Steam store page.
“Multiple Endings: Finding the true killer is ideal, of course, but maybe building a plausible case against one of the other characters is good enough to get you off the hook!”
Personally, I would have preferred that they kept this quiet, because knowing that I could just blame someone else made everything feel too easy. With the kind of anti-heroine that Miss Fortune is, it would seem more likely that she’d find the easiest way to keep from going to jail -- which would be to blame anyone she had enough evidence to convict of the murder, whether they be innocent or not.
The story is decent, but the motive for the player to find the real killer isn’t there when a loophole like that is so obvious. It would have been much more fun if that option only revealed itself as the timer started to run down with no good clues to peg the real killer with.
If I Could Change Anything...
If there was one thing I could change about the game, it would be that there's only one real killer, with no chance of there ever being another in different play throughs. I would have liked for the real killer to be random each time I played. Perhaps the first playthrough it’s the valet, next time it’s the victim's love interest, the third the Comtesse.
I’m seriously drawing on some inspiration from the Clue movie, based on the board game of the same name. The movie has three different endings, and when released in theaters the ending you got was random. It paid homage to the board game and how random the killer, scene of the crime, and murder weapon could be. I think adding something similar to this it would make MMM a little more enjoyable and replayable.
Overall, MMM: Murder Most Misfortunate is not a bad game. Visual novels are not for everyone, but this one did a rather decent job at keeping my interest. The story’s sound, the characters, and their voice actors are entertaining, and the timer mechanic keeps you on your toes. My only gripes revolve around what I considered spoilers in the game description and there being a lack of motive to find the real killer -- especially if you’re trying to beat the clock.