(In case you weren’t aware, I rate my games on a Curry ScaleTM)
Like a lot of games, Nobodies (Blyts, 2019) sat patiently on my wishlist for a while. I’m glad I finally got round to it – it’s right up my street, if overnight someone dug up my street and re-routed it somewhere unexpected. Yes, another point-and-click. Yes, more dark comedy. Yes, another murder theme. Except, in this game, the objective is to cover up the murders. You’re Mr Cleanup Job, sent in to bury the evidence, sweep up the entrails and dispose of the body so that nothing remains of your peer’s grisly assassination.
Clean-up on aisle four!
Each assignment begins with the murder scene, prompting you to collect, use and combine objects in order to hide the body and cover tracks. Sometimes this is achieved through dialogue with other characters, but there’s not too much chatting. Make a careless move or reveal yourself, and it’s a restart – though a lot of the things you did will still be in place, so it’s not too frustrating.
You can pass levels by doing the bare minimum, or be an absolute perfectionist and earn a full marks medal. No surprise which was me. According to the Belbin behavioural test I did at work once, I’m a completer-finisher. As such, the tidying nature of Nobodies really appealed to me. Even in games that don’t necessitate it, I cannot leave a room without closing cupboards, turning off taps and switching off lights. So I’ve spent a lot of time in this game making sure I put everything back in place.
If you don’t manage the medal, you’re given a list of your indiscretions and the chance to correct them. Again – I spent a lot of time on this game. Usually you can rectify your mistakes by picking up where you left off, but one particular level had me redoing the whole thing from start to finish because there was no other way. That’s dedication, but now I can sleep at night.
Story ain’t everything
The overarching narrative and individual cases aren’t that interesting, but that didn’t matter to me. I liked that it’s a fairly straightforward game. It’s a pick up/put down affair, as opposed to a big investment. The settings for each case are nice and varied (a hospital, science lab, museum, train, among others) and the puzzle chains inventive. Some ‘obvious’ solutions aren’t quite what they seem (vending machine!), which is a good thing, but there are no monkey wrenches either.
If you do get stuck, there’s an in-game hint system, but I admit to consulting a walkthrough a couple of times as the hints weren’t always that helpful, and there’s no way to get a different hint until you solve that particular bit. Incrementally useful hints would work better. I also experienced one confusing moment where the game referred to a puzzle before I’d got there – but that happens in most adventure games I’ve played and isn’t a huge deal as a one-off.
While the gameplay is grounded on classic point-and-click mechanics, the overall style is quite modern. The scenery and subtle backdrops are really nicely illustrated and conjure an ominous (think Soviet) atmosphere. The music that accompanies your missions is perfectly suited, with a nice bit of sinister synth – it reminded me of the video game CounterSpy – and some of the sound effects are reminiscent of The X-Files.
It’s a fairly short game, and I remember being a bit surprised to suddenly arrive at the end – perhaps because there’s little narrative stringing it all together. But while I wasn’t gripped by the story, with everything that’s going on at the moment I found the closing scenes to be particularly, eerily, apt.
Nobodies is available on Steam, Android and iOS.