PEGBRJE: Once Upon a Crime in the West and Mobius

Discovery and Infinity, Mind over Matter.

Seems simple enough, I think.

Once Upon a Crime in the West is a detective adventure game made by National Insecurities, an indie studio out of the UK that works on murder mysteries. Players are thrown into the cold world of an old American Wild West winter, where they return to the cabin they are staying in only to find it littered with corpses. Using their powers of perception, deduction, memory and a bit of help from the cabin owner himself players will piece together the most likely events utilizing state of the art technology; a camera. Well, and a bit of ‘time travel’.

Since Once Upon a Crime takes place at the aftermath of the crime, players are given the ability to ‘rewind’ through the 12 days of Christmas to experience pieces of the protagonist’s memory for each of the days. Each day has a scene within that introduces new characters, builds old ones and gives information on the state of the world that they are in. These scenes can be interrupted at any time by the player to rewind through, picking up where the player left off when returning to that specific day. Once completed, the day cannot be rewound as far as I’m aware, so soak up as much information as possible on what each day’s importance is.

Skipping to the twelfth day gives the ability to ‘document’ any findings thanks to the camera, where pictures of each victim can be taken and stuck to a wall or floor. In true detective fashion, attaching two photos together creates a string between them, creating the giant web board I always wanted to make as a kid. The owner will also give context clues as well upon performing certain actions, such as handing him photos of the patrons or connecting the individuals to each other in a web to create the atmosphere of collaboration. It’s also nice to have someone confirm whether or not the strings I’m creating are actually correct, as many of the scenes leave holes in the story that players must figure out themselves. There is only one correct sequence of events, the truth of who killed whom cannot be altered just because players get to see the past in ‘real time’ as it were.

If I could delve more into Once Upon A Crime In The West I would, but I fear that the more I talk about the characters or the scenario the more likely I am to spoil certain aspects of the game. It’s an intriguing murder mystery with a colourful cast of characters to glimpse into the lives of, while keeping a mild humour to its tone (the old old town skit in the mountain was so much fun). It’s not a lengthy title, but the hour or two that it takes will leave you satisfied with its solution and world building, almost to the point of pity that one must leave. If you’re up for deducing murders, this is a title that you’ll want to give a try.

Mobius is a mind-bending puzzle platformer made by papercookies, the pseudonym of solo dev adam pype who is currently undergoing a game a month creation cycle. Players will control a tiny person within a circle, needing to collect coins in order to exit a door to enter the next circle, endlessly searching for the exit. The twist, as I’m so clever, is that the endless circle can be altered into a mobius strip, shifting perspective into a terrifying display of unending power.

Players are given simple controls for movement, but when there are bends in the logic, the fundamentals change; sideways movement mean more clockwise and counterclockwise, with jumping always being towards the centre. It’s a bit disorienting at first, running in what feels like the wrong way, but this is the first ‘puzzle’ that the game introduces in order for players to be prepared for what is to come. While mastering this new orientation, players must collect all of the coins that are scattered throughout the circle and return to the door without dying, as that resets them to the beginning state of the level. It’s tricky, but I got the hang of it quite quickly as the platforming is relatively simple, but it’s at this exact moment that the world flips into itself and becomes the namesake.

Upon reaching a certain level, Mobius prompts players to click once on their mouse. That seemingly harmless action folds everything, and shows the other side of the circle that one couldn’t see prior, creating a mobius strip and the true puzzle of the game. Players must balance switching back and forth between perspectives based on their current location on the mobius strip to find all of the coins. The forced perspective has an effect on the character’s movespeed as well, slowing them in tight areas if the player doesn’t rotate the camera. I felt almost like guiding a small object through a 3D puzzle, rotating constantly to figure out the easiest path to take all while ensuring that the character doesn’t meet an untimely end. This doesn’t even begin to describe nor explain the bizarre situations as the game goes on, I’ll leave that up to the imagination.

It’s been a while since my mind felt so scrambled by something that appeared so simple —having to actually control the puzzle while also solving it felt so weird yet satisfying. It definitely is more than it first appears, folding into itself to create a puzzling platformer without relying on conventional puzzle systems. If you love a challenge and enjoy attempting to solve infinity, Mobius is definitely a game to try out.

Linklings

Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.