Solving a murder is no easy feat, especially if it involves investigating your own demise. Created by ZacheryShaffer, The Dead Case is a point and click adventure that is set in a town full of ghosts. You are one of them. What's more, you don't remember a thing about your past so you have absolutely no idea what happened to you moments before your death. Sound like a tall order? As an incorporeal being, you have the option of scaring the towns children for all eternity if that's your wish. Of course, that won't lead you any closer to the conclusion of the game.
So, you're a ghost and one with amnesia at that. For now, it seems you've got time on your side. A good thing, considering you don't have much to go on. Where do you even start looking? In terms of in-game screens, the town is big. It's big enough, in fact, that it warrants a map just to keep you in the right track. Accessed through the options menu, the map is good enough to help you find new routes for someone new to talk to or scare the living daylights out of. However, it's not really as handy as we hoped. For starters, it's made up of color blobs and is a bit confusing. It also doesn't indicate new points of interest to help you progress through the game. Last but not the least, it doesn't allow you to fast travel to places you've already been to. This means that if you're not making use of a strategy guide, you'll be forced to wander around aimlessly until you find someone or something new.
The needless backtracking is really a shame, considering that with a bit more content, even this could have been enjoyable. More NPCs to interact with could have made going around the town less tedious. Collectibles and Easter eggs could have also made the effort worthwhile. The confusing map doesn't make The Dead Case a terrible game but it doesn't make for smoother game play either.
On the bright side, The Dead Case does shine when it comes to the mystery aspect of the game, which is definitely where it counts. Although your main goal is to find out what has happened to the protagonist, you will also be able to follow the stories of the rest of the town's ghosts. There are a trio of them too. There's one inside the hospital, one in the school and one found at the church. Just like you, they're all suffering from a major case of memory loss so you will need to get creative and find a way to kickstart their brains. In turn, you will also find out more about your mysterious past. It's a win-win situation, really.
While there can be more of it, we do like the character interaction in this title. Knowing more about the ghosts around you, being able to scare some teens and even being able to befriend a human makes the in-game world come to life. It's great to see a casual game expanding its world and making it more interesting to explore. Again, there could be more but the content that's already there is enough to keep you playing.
The Dead Case isn't a perfect game by any means but it is an enjoyable one. Not only is the premise an interesting one, it's also rarely used. We say rarely because like Murdered: Soul Suspect, there are a few like it out there. We liked how you could choose to interact with the NPCs, scaring off bullies and triggering events to gain key items. We also liked the fact that there are multiple endings. Unlike most straightforward point-and-click adventures, you don't just get the usual game over screen ushering you towards the best outcome in The Dead Case. Instead, your actions determine whether or not you'll be able to get a somewhat satisfying end or are cursed to roam the earth with regrets.
The art here isn't exactly what we would call polished, although considering how the game was made, this is already pretty impressive. The writing and dialogue is pretty decent. We enjoyed interacting with the town's ghosts and following the storyline. As we've mentioned, the map could use a facelift to make it more useful in general. While the game does not allow you to save, it does give you access to Passwords so you could take a break and get back to gaming whenever you're ready.
So, should you check The Dead Case out? Play it if you love a good mystery and aren't annoyed too easily by needless backtracking. We recommend reserving an hour or so for completion if you're not planning to rush through the exploration parts of the game.