Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Family Fun
Mystery and mayhem await you in this classic board game styled whodunit that puts you in the detective chair. For some of you, “Guilty Party” will be a throwback to the game of Clue, mystery dinner theatre and we cannot forget your classic detective novels. Dig out your magnifying glass, your detective’s cap and be sure to invite your friends to join you as you gather clues and try to determine who the “Guilty Party” really is.
The graphics take on a cartoon style approach which really works well for this party game, helping draw in the younger crowd. The attention to detail in the backgrounds and characters will also draw in some older gamers who have come to expect more quality from graphics.
The backgrounds are quite literally bursting at the seams with the amount of items crammed in some of the rooms. A good example is a bedroom that has two portraits on the wall, along with a couple of plants, a bench, a makeup table complete with mirror, another large mirror adjacent to the makeup table and I haven’t even mentioned the large wooden bed with a blue comforter. All of the rooms including the kitchen, office and main foyer in the first level follow this extensively detailed theme and this continues on in later levels as well.
Characterization is one of the strong suits of Guilty Party with each of the playable characters having a unique face and clothing to create strong personalities. For example, Max wears a brown trench coat that matches his brown fedora, along with loosened red tie and dress shirt. These little details definitely help portray the image of an underachieving detective. Another character named Charlotte, the eldest of the bunch, reminds me of Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote with her well composed clothing along with her fashionable grey hair and her granny hat.
Overall the graphical presentation is well done keeping it child friendly, but at the same time creating details upon details to enforce an already graphically rich environment.
The voice acting in Guilty Party is quite impressive with all of the main characters having unique, although in some cases archetypal voice personalities. Commodore Dickens for example is an older man, with a hint of a British accent that most people would associate with some detective television programs often seen on the BBC. Kid Riddle takes on the typical personality of a hyper and overactive child who seems to have just drunk five cans of cola and ate about 10 pounds of candy. Surprisingly, Butch, a large and masculine appearing man that you would expect to have a rough and tough voice, actually has a very high pitched one.
The background music is instrumental, mainly composed of string, percussion and some piano. Combined with the background music are the sound effects like rumbling thunder or howling wind to create the right amount of suspense, excitement and a variety of other emotions to draw the player into the game just a bit more.
At the core Guilty Party is a Party/Mystery game that will have gamers of all ages gathering clues by playing through a board game like environment and mini-games. When the clues have been gathered they will have to be sifted through and used to determine who the “Guilty Party” ultimately is. The story is centered upon the Dickens Detective Agency headed up by Dorian “The Commodore” Dickens, and staffed by the rest of his family including a sister, his children, grandchildren and even an in-law.
The story mode is more of a tutorial mode that will run you through how to solve the mysteries and how to play each of the mini-games. The story starts off with The Commodore announcing his retirement and passing on control of the detective agency to the family member that is able to defeat Dr. Valentine, The Commodore’s arch-enemy. Choose from the cast of characters: Max, Phoebe, Kid Riddle, Charlotte, Butch and Ling Ling to being your sleuthing adventure.
Solving a mystery involves two things, gathering clues through interrogation and finding evidence by examining objects in your environment. A journal is at your disposal in which your clues will be stored and you are also able to record four facts of utmost importance: Hair Length, Gender, Height and Body Type which will aid in the investigation. Most clues will be found by interrogating the characters. When a character is interrogated it will prompt you to play a mini game that must be successfully passed before the clue is revealed. For each mystery there are some useful clues and others that you must sift through or discard as irrelevant. Once you have collected all the clues or find sufficient evidence to determine the culprit you will be able to accuse a suspect. By accusing a suspect you will need to justify your accusation by defending the reasons you think they are guilty. If you are successful in doing so you will have found the “Guilty Party.”
The game features a variety of mini-games with some being as simple as using the Wii Remote to pick up money and place it in suspects’ hands to encourage some answers out of them, staring down suspects by moving your eyes over theirs to intimidate them, or even tickling suspects with a feather to entice some answers. The mini-games are definitely not mind busters but instead focus on physical actions to complete the tasks at hand. Though the concept of some of the games may appear relatively simple they can prove to be challenging and at times frustrating. This was especially the case for the feather tickling game which took me quite a few tries to successfully complete. One unfortunate downfall regarding the mini-games are the similarities between the games which causes them to feel somewhat repetitive and takes a lot away from the overall gameplay.
As mentioned previously, the environment is set out as a sort of game board. Each mystery has a certain amount of turns in which you must solve the mystery. At the beginning of each mystery, you are able to determine your difficulty level which is either: Rookie, Detective and Super Sleuth. You are given a certain amount of tokens at the beginning of each turn that you will use to move or interrogate characters. You are also given a Savvy Card that can be used to counteract a malicious move on the part of Mr. Valentine. Mr. Valentine will attempt to slow your investigation down by locking you in a room, turning off lights etc. If you have the right savvy card you will be able to get out of the situation. Some savvy cards can be used to help you in your investigation such as a free movement card that helps you speed through the level and get a lot more done on the turn it is used compared to a normal one.
The story mode isn’t terribly long, but that isn’t too bad because there is a Party Mode available where players can play either Cooperatively or Competitively. In co-op you are working together with up to three other players to solve the mystery and in competitive mode you are racing to solve the case first. The levels available for Party Mode are directly linked to the levels you have completed in Story Mode. So take some time and complete the story to enjoy the full experience of Party Mode. The gameplay doesn’t change at all when it comes to either of the modes except for Competitive where you get to choose what traps, obstacles or sabotages Mr. Valentine will unleash on your opponents. This little bit definitely throws a wrench into the gameplay and should be considered into your strategy when going up against your friends.
The highlight of Guilty Party is Party Mode after all the mini-games and levels have been unlocked through Story Mode. This can be considered a bit of a negative having to play through the story mode fist to get to the more entertaining side of the game, but trust me it is worth the effort.
Continue to Page 2