So that trailer looks pretty cool right? Well you're probably alright stopping there. Not to jump on the negative review train; the game is a pretty harmless and innocent hour and a half with nothing egregious, but what's in the trailer is pretty much all there is to the game, albeit with a predictable detective story tacked on.
First off let me just list off why the game intrigued me enough for an impulse buy, so we can compare expectations and see if the game actually lives up to them. I bought this game because:
-it's a musical
-its themes include gender, which is particularly tender and interesting to me
-it apparently did well in IGF nominations
-it's only an hour and a half long, which for someone with a massive backlog is actually an incentive
Now that I've played it, my positives are:
-it's one continuous musical adventure, with each screen change being accompanied by new music. The vamp technology
leading into each character's singing parts isn't perfect but is cool nonetheless.
-it has a lot of trombone
...And that's about it. Let's break this down further.
The musical element is the game's most unique and as mentioned above, works well enough. I don't actually have a huge problem with the "grating" voices: to me it along with the point and click mechanics create somewhat of a nostalgic experience. It really feels like a stage show, which is neat. At the same time, there's nothing particularly complex about the compositions, and the game doesn't really embrace the "musical" idea fully, it's just kinda there.
The claymation is very crude and pretty much a gimmick. It's very low resolution assests with no graphic options to speak of.
The gender theme isn't near as prominent as I expected and rather forced, thankfully it's not offensive but it's also not trailblazing.
As far as gameplay goes there's very little to speak of, just exhausting dialogue options. This isn't inherently bad, there are great games like Attack of the Friday Monsters that use this so as to not feel gamey or proprietary in any way. But that's the thing, you'll still be navigating basic menus for most of it so the fact that this is a very shallow, simple game will always be in the forefront of your mind. That said, it is simple enough for anyone to play and you won't get frustrated or stuck.
The story is the primary focus of the game, and it's pretty disposable. For one it's indulgent; you're thrown in with little context and immediately expected to care about the characters with no concept to guide the experience. The game constantly repeats information you've just heard back to you. It's pretty humorless; there are bits of overdone social commentary here and there that are really random and don't fit in with anything else: this is unfortunately the extent of the game's themes. And in general it's all pretty incidental, with a lack of finese to the storytelling, and it's just not at all cohesive! For all its twists and turns it never does anything unseen in other point and clicks or noir. The ending at least had potential to satisfy and bowtie all the elements but it feels unfinished, like the last 15 minutes are part of a different game.
So yeah in the end it's just kinda boring, you know? It's one of those cases where you have to take a step back and realize that just because it's cool as a trailer doesn't mean it'll be cool as a game, especially since it never explores any of its enticing elements. Still, on sale for a quick runthrough you can do a lot worse.