The Sexy Brutale is a murder mystery puzzle game set within a casino mansion. But this isn't just any ordinary big house: the staff are murdering the guests and you must put a stop to it. You take on the role of Lafcardio Boone, a priest who is trying to piece together the happenings of the house and save its victims from their inevitable fate.
What sets The Sexy Brutale apart from other games is its Groundhog Day-style gameplay. All the events that occur during the game take place within 12 hours, on a Saturday – we thought weekends were meant to be for relaxing. This day will repeat until you have unravelled the mysteries of the mansion and saved all of its victims. To achieve this you must follow the staff and guests, listening in to their conversations in order to piece together the goings on in the mansion. You can then interact with certain objects that will help you to solve puzzles to prevent the murders from occurring.
While you walk around the mansion and interact with objects you are not immediately visible to anyone else, but if you are to enter into a room with someone else present your presence will begin to be revealed to them. You must exit the room before you are fully revealed else the day will be reset. So how do you snoop on people? Well, there are several different ways you can stalk those that seem suspicious. Several rooms have wardrobes you can hide in so you can eavesdrop on conversations without being seen. You're also able to peek through key holes to watch or follow people through different rooms to see exactly what they're up to.
Once a victim has been saved the entire murder sequence will play but you will see the alternative outcome where the victim is saved, you're then able to retrieve their mask which grants you a new ability. This new ability can be used to backtrack to certain areas of the mansion and unlock other unexplored locations. Although you're returning to the same areas time and time again, the way in which the story unfolds and is revealed in small nuggets of information gained from eavesdropping or following people is really intriguing and kept us playing through to its conclusion, wanting to figure out the purpose of the mansion and its inhabitants.
You come equipped with a stopwatch that will keep track of time for you throughout your adventure and allow you to restart the day from the beginning at any point you so choose. You are also able to skip to key moments throughout the day so that you don't have to spend so much time waiting for a certain event to begin. This is really handy if you missed a piece of information or weren't able to solve a puzzle in the required time, you can simply just restart the day and try again.
As you explore the mansion it is instantly noticeable the amount of detail that the developers have put into each room: fancy wallpapers, highly detailed furniture, and a variety of items to interact with or observe make every location feel very different from the last. The sounds and visuals are also excellently polished with some beautifully stereotypically upbeat bar/casino style music that you'll be humming along to once you're a couple of hours in. The visual style of the game allows it to switch between a sharp, vibrant, and colourful style straight into a dark and grimy gothic setting without you taking a second glance. The music and visuals combine together beautifully and put across an outstanding atmosphere for the whole mystery to take place within.
It's a lengthy game, too, as the story will have you solving nine murders scattered throughout the grand house and the story throughout is intriguing enough to keep you progressing towards the answers you want. After a good 10 hours of solving intricate puzzles the ending is very satisfying, answering all of those questions it initially raises. There's not much more we can say about the story without spoiling the mystery of the place and its victims but it is a very interesting and different game to anything else we have experienced on the PlayStation 4 to date.
After you have finished the game there are several things for you to return to the mansion for. There are a bunch of collectibles to find: a pack of 52 cards are littered around the rooms, in fireplaces, in chests, on bookshelves, etc. Each room can also be scanned and it will unlock a short background paragraph about it. The last thing to be done after completing the story is to retrieve each one of the guests' invitations. These reveal a little bit more information on their stories and how they came to be at the mansion.
The Sexy Brutale is a very different type of game to anything on the PS4 currently, taking up a Groundhog Day-style in gameplay that is excellently executed. The game is perfectly presented with outstanding audio and visuals that are able to switch the tone of the story from being joyfully upbeat to a very dark within a matter of moments. The story does a great job of keeping you fixated on looking for answers from beginning to end and its conclusion will leave you more than satisfied with your time spent solving its interestingly intricate puzzles.