I love detective games, but they rarely make me feel like a detective.
Whether its Ace Attorney or LA Noire, the actual crime-solving is mostly done for me and I'm just there to drive around town, tap the screen, and answer the odd question to make sure I've been paying attention.
Cartoon whodunit Detective Grimoire, however, forces you to think like a flatfoot PI and lets you consider the facts, figure out the truth, and drive the investigation. Because it won't go without you.
That investigation involves a murder. Richard Remington, the owner of a tourist trap in the middle of a swamp, has been killed and all the clues seem to point towards a mythological creature called Boggy as the culprit.
At first glance, the game looks and acts like a point-and-click adventure. You move between scenes, tapping on interesting objects to stuff into your trenchcoat pockets and getting into conversations with various suspects and witnesses.
But instead of solving loopy puzzles, you progress in the case by showing the right clue, or talking about the right subject, to the right person.
Uncover some new facts and you'll be tested on what you just learned. Grimoire will ask himself a question and you must answer it by snapping together places, people, objects, and statements by dragging them around the screen like jigsaw pieces.
Sure, the answers can be simple or obvious and there's only one right answer, but this clever system goes a long way towards making you feel like you're involved with proceedings and allows you to get inside Grimoire's head.
In this game, you get to do the sort of deduction that LA Noire's Cole and Ace Attorney's Phoenix do without you.
If you get stuck, you can find yourself asking everybody about everything in some clumsy war of attrition to advance the game. And there's even some pixel-hunting thrown in. But the game does, I should note, nudge you in the right direction if you review your case notes carefully.
Plus, there are other things to help out. For each suspect in your investigation, you can tag facts about them with "suspicious" or "not suspicious" - though it doesn't do anything and it probably won't help you figure out who the killer is.
And above all that, there's the fact that this is quite a simple crime, in truth. There are lots of facts to juggle (Poisoned hot dogs! Suspicious flowers! Sinister protestors!) but the actual crime is about one step up from the tutorial mission in another detective game.
But it's definitely one of the better crime games I've played and it's a treat to experience. The dialogue - fully voiced by some great actors - can be genuinely funny, and the oddball cast of characters all bounce about with terrific over-the-top animations.
So if you're up for a detective game where you do more than sit back and watch the real investigators do all the work, Detective Grimoire is a case worth solving. And it's ripe for a longer (deeper) sequel, too.