One of these days someone’s just going to go ahead and make a Groundhog Day game starring Bill Murray. That film’s concept, where a man relives the same day over and over again for hundreds or even thousands of years, has been hugely popular both for other films and in video games. Hell, even Nintendo got into the act at one point with The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask!
Not to be outdone, we’ve got another glitzy take on the idea on tap today with the time-rewinding casino thriller The Sexy Brutale.
You’ve been invited to spend some time at the Sexy Brutale, a luxurious casino mansion! Hobnob with the other guests, gamble, have a drink if you’d like, just party like it’s your last day on Earth…because it probably will be. The staff of the Brutale is out to make sure of that. We follow priest Lafcadio Boone as he goes through a 12-hour period during the Brutale’s annual party; things aren’t going to go so well for the other guests if Boone doesn’t intervene.
That means it’s up to our holy hero to do something about the awful events that will take place in the Brutale. If you’ve ever played the classic 3DS adventure game Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective you’ve got an idea of how this works; a guest is going to die in a certain way, but by rewinding time and manipulating events, Boone can save them before they bite the dust.
You’re not exactly a regular guest here; the others can’t see you, though the supernatural and hostile masks everyone wears sure can, so you’ll need to be stealthy regardless. As mentioned, you can control time to some degree, ensuring that you’re in the right place at the right moment to avert disaster. What’s more, you’ll earn more abilities as you play, including more refined time control, stealth, hearing and so on. Careful planning and repeatedly experiencing the guests’ deaths is integral to success, since you’ll need to understand all sides of a given situation before you can successfully work to change it.
It’s a cute idea that works well, and the Brutale isn’t so big that you’ll get lost exploring its rooms and working to understand what’s going on. The Sexy Brutale is also a visually impressive game. There’s a sort of super-deformed style going on that lends a touch of the absurd to the horrific goings-on in the mansion; it’s charming, despite the fact that people are getting murdered over and over again before your eyes.
To go along with this, the game’s writing also includes plenty of dark humor. There’s a lot of flavor to stumble across as you relive each scenario (I loved how Boone would visibly cross himself before hiding in a closet or wardrobe, for instance), as well as a collection of blurbs on guests, game mechanics and the Brutale itself that unlocks as you play.
Make no mistake, this is a game about problem-solving and experimentation rather than action. There’s no combat and the necessity of dodging dangerous masks isn’t exactly a pressing issue if you’re careful with stealth. With that in mind, The Sexy Brutale is best experienced by those who are after a more cerebral experience. Fans of the aforementioned Ghost Trick are almost guaranteed to love this one, but it’s a great choice for adventure game aficionados as a whole.