Lovecraftian mysteries are one of the most popular genres in any medium, and when they are done right, they create some of the most memorable experiences for any audience. The interactivity of video games provides an even greater opportunity for immersion in the horrifying Lovecraftian worlds.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox, developed by Plot Twist and published by Rogue Games, Inc, is a Lovecraftian Metroidvania full of mysteries, puzzles, challenging combat, and stunning artwork. The game’s story explores topics such as loss, abandonment, and interdimensional entities, as well as some more sensitive topics such as depression and suicide.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox tells the story of Benedict Fox, a detective who is investigating a mysterious case about himself and his own family. In the opening sections of the game, we are introduced to a voice in our head, an entity that occasionally has physical manifestations that help us navigate the world and defeat our foes. We learn that this “companion” has been with Benedict for his entire life, and by investigating his parents he wishes to learn more about himself and his companion.
Once we reach our parents’ mansion, we find the homestead empty and discover their corpses. They have died before Benedict gets the chance to meet them. But this doesn’t stop the investigation, as with the help of the companion, we can explore the memories of our father for answers. The memories are manifested in the form of vast and strange dimensions, and we have to search among the Lovecraftian horrors to find bits and pieces of tangible clues.
Through our investigations, we meet various NPCs either in the memories or in the real world. We even meet historical figures such as Harry Houdini who helps us in our adventures, and learn about our father’s meetings with a psychiatrist named Sigmund, who is likely the famous Freud. I don’t want to talk about the story of The Last Case of Benedict Fox in more detail to avoid spoilers, but it’s an intriguing and engaging experience full of fascinating twists. While Lovecraftian stories often focus on cosmic horror and secret organizations, The Last Case of Benedict Fox spends more time exploring the personal stories and emotions amidst these events.
The amazing artwork and the music elevate the experience even further. The cinematic scenes, the environments, and the animations have a unique and gorgeous style, and the music plays an important role in various situations such as the mysterious tunes during exploration and the more exciting ones during combat and chase scenes. The voice acting is mostly good, especially the deep and mystical voice of the companion finishing every sentence with a long and stretched “Benedict!”. It all fits the overall tone of The Last Case of Benedict Fox and creates a unified experience.
The gameplay of The Last Case of Benedict Fox offers a wonderful detective experience. There’s a great balance between combat, platforming, puzzles, and mysteries that we get to experience over tens of hours of gameplay, without getting repetitive and boring. We are constantly introduced to new mechanics, upgrades, and abilities that let us overcome obstacles and enemies that we previously couldn’t get pass. The Metroidvania aspect of the game isn’t just time-keeping certain areas, it’s a delicately designed exploration experience. The map leaves a question mark on areas we haven’t explored or haven’t found a way to progress, and whenever we gain a new ability, we can easily travel around and see where these new abilities can become useful and discover new clues.
The combat in The Last Case of Benedict Fox is challenging, and it becomes apparent very early on. Less than an hour into the game, we have to fight a difficult boss. We have to learn the mechanics and use everything in our arsenal to defeat him, and it’s gonna take a few tries to get past this boss. While this is a great moment to set the tone for the difficulty of the game, it can also be a point of frustration. The Last Case of Benedict Fox prioritizes visuals over controls; the movement, turns, and jump animations look amazing, but they don’t feel as responsive as one would hope, and unless you are willing to put the practice in and learn the timings, you might give up on the game during this boss fight.
After this fight, we get to see more platforming sections throughout The Last Case of Benedict Fox. There are various elements to spice the gameplay up such as chase scenes, dark areas where you have to navigate with a flashlight, or unlocking double and triple jumps to get past certain platforming sections. While not the focus of the gameplay, these sections provide a fun challenge throughout the game.
But the most important aspect of the gameplay of The Last Case of Benedict Fox, is the puzzles and mysteries. And I actually do mean to separate these two categories as they play very differently within the game. Puzzles are separate instances of solving or decoding a passcode to go through certain obstacles. The puzzles are challenging, but not impossible. Once I had the necessary tools and hints, I could solve them eventually, and I felt really smart for doing them.
This is what a detective game should make the player feel. Give them challenging puzzles that are hard enough to get some time to figure out, but not impossible, or rely on illogical connections like some adventure games. This is done even better throughout the mysteries. Mysteries in The Last Case of Benedict Fox are major plot points and quest lines. As we find clues about the fate of our parents and our situation, we get quests to investigate them further. Unlike some modern games where quests are linear and directed, there is no quest pointer or detailed explanation of what we need to do. We are a detective after all. We have to explore and discover clues that move the plot forward and have to solve the mysteries presented.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox is a handcrafted, deep, and gorgeous experience. Except for some non-optimal controls, every aspect of the game work together and elevate each other. For fans of Lovecraftian mysteries, this is a game that they will remember for a long time.
Nima played The Last Case of Benedict Fox on Steam with a review code provided by the publisher.