Uncover The Smoking Gun Impression – HalWorld

ReLU Games’ Uncover the Smoking Gun caught my eye because not only is it a detective game, but it also uses an AI dialogue system to allow players to ask suspects and witnesses any question to uncover evidence. This potentially could open up endless possibilities in terms of the player’s skill in knowing what questions are the right ones to ask, rather than relying on multiple choice dialogue options which may not always reflect the questions that the player has on their mind. Of course, with AI use in creative works being particuarly controversial at this current time, my biggest question when approaching Uncover the Smoking Gun was “is it worth it?” I’ve just finished Case 1, which took roughly an hour, and here are my thoughts and hopes for the rest of the game so far. 

Uncover the Smoking Gun starts off in our office. We are a detective tasked with solving crimes and each one of the cases we are assigned to has a robot on the scene that needs to be questioned. But there’s another mystery that needs to be solved: Who are we? In my quick exploration of the office before starting the first case, I discovered that we have a wife who has gone missing, and is potentially linked to some of the cases we will be investigating. 

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Each case has a robot that needs to be questioned.

Case 1 involves solving the murder of Stanley Mason, who is thought to have been given an overdose of Atrophine by his wife, Linda. To solve the case, we search the crime scene for evidence, which can be sorted on our crime board which reminded me a lot of the crime board used in Shadows of Doubt, which I loved but it does feel less refined here. Our AI office assistant will also give us tips and further clarity on the evidence we pick up, but unfortunately we can’t go back on these so I ended up having to take physical notes anyway. 

I like the simplified, comic book-style graphics and chill soundtrack. But on the AI Generated Content Disclosure of the game’s Steam page, the developers have admitted to using AI to generate some of the evidence such as photos and book covers, which I feel less enthusiastic about than the dialogue, considering the procedurally generated dialogue could be beneficial to this style of detective game whereas using it in in-game artworks feels less necessary. 

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This sentence feels clumsy. 

Unfortunately the biggest flaw I’ve found with Uncover the Smoking Gun so far is in fact the dialogue and writing. Even from the introduction text of Case 1, a lot of the sentences are oddly phrased, and this trend continues when interviewing the robot witnesses and suspects, who produce a lot of sentences that don’t make an awful lot of sense most of the time. I’m hoping this improves as I progress in the game, especially as each robot dialogue is supposed to still use a unique tone of voice despite being produced by AI. I’m also wondering whether this has been purposely done because the dialogue is coming from a robot, but I will be able to clarify this if we encounter human NPCs. 

I’m also hoping that the cases grow more complex as the game progresses, as I found Case 1 to feel very much like a tutorial rather than an actual case. I also find the grading system to be unsatisfying; I was graded B for Case 1 but wasn’t given any information as to how I achieved this grade or what I could have done to achieve higher. But one finishing touch that I did like was the use of newspaper clippings to show the case summary, giving the player the full picture of the case they just solved. 

Jess is playing Uncover the Smoking Gun on PC with a review code.

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