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Game Info:

London Detective Mysteria
Developed By: Karin Entertainment
Published By: XSEED Games
Release Date: July 31, 2019
Available On: Windows, PS Vita
Genre: Visual Novel
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: M for Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
MSRP: $29.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you XSEED Games for sending us the PC and PS Vita versions of this game for review!

London Detective Mysteria coming to English is an interesting bit of history. It's a game that XSEED considered several years back, but didn't have room for in their busy schedule. Once they lost the license for Ys VIII (NISA published it), their team had some extra time on their hands. So, one of the (now former) employees, who singlehandedly edited about 75% of this VN (visual novel) herself, suggested that they pick this title up since she had spare time. She found this game to be a much larger task than anticipated, but still did a wonderful job, with the nearly impeccable localization job that followed.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know this person through Discord and Twitter, so when the chance to review this game came up, nothing would stop me. Also, I thought it would be a great chance for me to review an Otome game, which I have not done before. Otome is a Japanese game genre where the main character is female, and often have many potential male romantic partners. These games are typically targeted towards women, but, I figured why not? Since my wife has played many romance VNs with male main characters in the past, why not see what it's like for her? Given my experience with other VNs with romantic plots, I had no trouble relating to her or the story. I do wonder how my perspective on which guys are 'best' would be different from a lady's given my natural instinct to protect women, but that has nothing to do with the game or story itself.

London Detective Mysteria
Highlights:

Strong Points: Great art; lovely music; lovable characters; interesting story that never gets boring
Weak Points: Art resolution could be higher; characters are a bit cliche’ though still interesting; good, but just short of being great; epilogue’s ending is a cliffhanger for a sequel that doesn’t exist
Moral Warnings: Intense descriptions of serial killers, and how they do their job; blood is shown; though no gore is shown, it is described;  racism and discrimination is present and dealt with, including racist slurs like 'yellow monkeys'; a fair amount of romance, though most of it is tasteful; couples shown kissing in bed; one scene where the main (female) character is shown naked, though nothing is visible but cleavage; discussion about and with prostitutes, including what they do as their job; foul language like ‘f*ck’, ‘sh*t’, ‘d*mn’, ‘h*ll’, ‘b*st*rd’, and ‘*ss’ shown in dialogue; antiquated words that have an offensive meaning in modern day, like queer, used in their original sense (aka queer = strange); God's name used as both an exclamation (Thank God) and a derision (My God, Jesus Christ); church is shown in a positive light for some characters, while others have no regard for it; occult activities are shown to be taking place, including a ritual that involves children and a pentagram; both alcohol and hard drug usage shown (and not always voluntarily)

Given that it is finally available in written English, it's somewhat ironic that it takes place in the birthplace of the language, in 19th century London. Queen Victoria is the ruling monarch, and several characters of both fact and fiction are present and part of the story. Most of it is experienced through the perspective of Emily Whiteley, a young noble, and the heiress of a massive fortune. She lost her parents both at a tender young age, and lives along with her family's remaining staff, including her far-too-capable butler, Pendleton. Her Majesty the Queen personally requests that you join the Harrington Academy, where you join the detectives program. Before long, you run into many notable characters, including the sons of Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Arsène Lupin, and the granddaughter of Agatha Christie's Marple, and other notables like Jack the Ripper. To round out the cast, we also have a couple of exchange students from Japan, Akechi and his assistant, Kobayashi. They each have clearly distinct personalities, and bring something unique to the story, even if they are somewhat stereotypical.

Emily herself (you can change her first name, but not last) is an extremely likable, and very cute young lady who brings a sense of energy and positivity to everything she does. Throughout the story, she will soften defiant hearts, charm the silent into talking, and bring out the best in everyone. She is also quite progressive and independent for a woman of her era; she is educated, she is the head of her household, and has no real concept of racism or discrimination. She is one of few who seem to think this way, given how some of these things are dealt with. She also has a tendency to think everything will work out, so is apt to sneak out or run straight into danger, which Pendleton does his best to stop. Luckily for her, she was chosen as one of the Queen's special detectives, and wears a special crown ring to prove it. This grants her access to go places she otherwise could not, as well as cooperation from the police, to solve different and dangerous crimes or other mysteries.

The structure of the game is pretty similar to many VNs. As you read the (lots of) text, there are questions throughout where you choose your appropriate reaction. Depending on your choices, certain boys may find themselves more and more charmed by you, and after a certain point, you start down the chosen route. Most routes have some mystery to solve, or some secret to uncover. Sometimes it is a crime, others it is getting past a systemic injustice. It is expected that early on you will complete Holmes’ and Watson's routes; after those are complete, several more open up, including Lupin's, Jack's, and Akechi's. In order to see the eventual true route, you need to see them all, including Marple's and Kobayashi's. This ends up solving one of the main mysteries of the game: the reason for Emily's parents' death. There is also an epilogue for each potential suitor, and a final one that sets up for a sequel (that sadly has never been developed).

If you are somewhat of a slow reader like I am, you will likely enjoy the many twists and turns for around forty hours or so, which is a decent length for a visual novel. It also really helps that the art and music are both excellent; while the PC version's art resolution could be a bit better (I play games on a rather large 4K screen, and it is a PS Vita port), the music is unquestionably excellent. While I don't know if I will be listening to the soundtrack regularly or not, I can say that it fits the story extremely well, and sets the moods perfectly. I've been listening to it while writing this review, and I haven't gotten sick of it yet.

During the process of reading this entertaining story, you will run into quite a significant amount of inappropriate material. There are some issues of a sexual nature, but that's actually not the majority. During one story arc, Emily becomes cold and wet, so she is stripped and kept warm by another (male) body. She is shown unclothed, and some cleavage, part of a breast, and other skin are shown. There is a fair amount of kissing, and she wakes up in bed with the boyfriend (depending on the route) during some scenes as well. Other than some passionate kissing and what I just mentioned, the other sexual content is more explained than shown.

During some of the scenes, women are called 'wh*res' and are killed mercilessly by one of the antagonists. Some discussion of their craft is done as well, as prostitutes, with descriptions such as 'they drink their minds rotten, [and] play loose to f*ck strangers'. Violence and gore are quite present in several routes, as you are investigating the work of a serial killer called Jack the Ripper. You see red blotches and red swipes as people are described as being gutted and maimed in excruciating detail. Gunshots are also described, with red flashes and sound effects present, but no entry wounds shown, except for when Emily treats a wound on one of her potential boyfriends.

As you may have noticed, most common curse words are present. They are not actually all that common; if it is in character for one to curse, they do. Some routes use little more than 'd*mn' and 'h*ll', while others use up to and including 'f*ck'. Other examples include 'sh*t', '*ss', and 'b*st*rd'. Derogatory words like 'wh*re' are used. Interestingly, some words are used with their classic meanings - like 'queer' is used to mean strange or odd, and has nothing to do with sexuality. God's name is used, both as an exclamation (Thank God) and in derision (My God, Jesus Christ).

During some of the routes, racism and classism are dealt with as topics. Emily always seems to have an idealistic, modern, and perhaps naive perspective, but the world around her does not. Japanese people are called 'yellow monkeys' in at least one place, and a general distrust of people unlike themselves is shown, including stereotyping the poor (which was sadly shown to be sometimes warranted, but not always). The terrible conditions that the poor had to endure was shown, and it shows how classes divide people, even across continents and cultures.

London Detective Mysteria
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 44%
Violence - 2/10
Language - 4/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

During some of the routes, a secret organization is discovered, and they deal in human trafficking, and also occult rituals. Some of these rituals take place below a church, which is rather disappointing (though not impossible, sadly). The rituals involve addictive drugs, young children, and satanic symbols like a pentagram. This is clearly shown to be evil, and a real tragedy for those pulled into it. Some abuse drugs and alcohol willingly, while others are forced against their will to take a powerful hallucinogen, or are knocked unconscious.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review both the PC and PS Vita versions. I played primarily on PC. I would say that if you like larger screens, keyboard and mouse controls, and faster skipping, then go with the PC version. The PS Vita version was the original, and you can sometimes tell - the scene transitions are a bit smoother, and it has a bit more polish. The PC version uses a scalable font, so it's always crisp, even at very high resolutions. As I mentioned before, the art resolution could be higher, as it looked just a bit better than the PS Vita assets. I like how the PC version has menus that are easier to navigate, even though it does work fine with a controller. I didn't like how it was easy to accidentally activate auto or skip with a controller on PC, though.

London Detective Mysteria is a good and memorable visual novel that I certainly don't regret reading, but it is also what I would consider good but not great. I have read some of the truly great VNs out there, and I would not put this in that list. But I have also read some truly bad/forgettable ones as well; this is not that, either. This is what I would call a 'B+' VN. It's certainly worth reading, and definitely enjoyable. I was never bored with it during my time reading it, and gets a solid recommendation - as long as you are a mature adult, and find the subject matter contained herein acceptable.

About the Author

Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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