Murdered by Midnight is a straightforward murder mystery game - which, ironically, isn't a trait you'd want a murder mystery to have. Cases are aplenty, but they're mainly just rearranging facts randomly to yield a different result. What exactly do I mean?
The story of Murdered by MidnightGiven that this is a murder mystery game, the story is actually pretty simple - you try to solve a murder by figuring out who's telling the truth and who's lying to protect themselves. You piece together all the info you get from witnesses and hearsays, then, if you're lucky, you might just stumble upon the murder weapon itself and confirm it by dusting for prints.
In Murdered by Midnight, you take your pick from a host of colourful characters (with stunning artwork) and play detective inside a fab 1920s Art Deco mansion. Complete with the excess of rooms and the fancy character names, the game immerses you into the story right from the very beginning, along with an appropriate background score that's easy on the ear. There's a read-aloud function you can toggle on and off, by the way, which is a nice accessibility touch.
Gameplay in Murdered by MidnightThe murder itself will vary with every playthrough, which is mainly a rotation of factors mixed and matched randomly. In particular, the victim, murder weapon, killer, and motive will always change, but it's just a matter of finding the right combination. In order to solve the case, you'll have to successfully deduce the Murderer, the Murder Weapon, the Time of Death, and the Motive to get it right; otherwise, it's game over.
To help you reach the right conclusion, you can move through different Rooms (or cards) to ask around and look for clues. A Room you step into may be empty, or in some instances, you might chance upon a housemate or two inside.
You can tap on "Witnessed" to figure out the Time of Death, or tap on "Suspicions" to confirm the "Motive". Everyone will, of course, say a bunch of stuff to protect their own interests and to confuse you, but here's the thing - you only need to find the murder weapon and you're golden.
What's the appeal?Herein lies the problem with the game mechanics. Finding the murder weapon (and confirming it by dusting for prints and asking forensics to verify it) already tells you the Murderer and the Murder Weapon. From there, it's just a matter of asking around to see who saw the Murderer and when. This creates a tedious trial-and-error cycle, which removes the intrigue and any kind of real detective work from the game.
While the visuals and the music of Murdered by Midnight are top-notch, the content ultimately lacks flavour. I do appreciate how there can be tons and tons and tons of combinations that make for great replayability, but there's really no need to put on your thinking cap here to solve any actual mystery. The murder case itself is created by a random generator, which only goes to show how just combining all those four elements in different ways creates such a simplified murder case.
As for the multiplayer element, you can play with others via the Game Center on iOS. This does create a slightly different experience than playing all by your lonesome, as I felt pretty pressured whenever my opponent would move into rooms and ask around. I'd get a sense of FOMO each time my opponent asked a witness for clues, which really makes me want to know what they found out and if they're any closer to solving the case than I am.
Because there are so many rooms and even more possible combinations, a game can take forever - or if you happen to find the murder weapon right next door, then a game can be over in ten minutes. This randomized element makes sure that no two playthroughs are the same, but the repetitive nature of the gameplay is, sadly, just not for me. Auntie Agatha is a hoot though - her commentaries are entertaining, at least.