Nowadays, video games tend to be ridiculously big productions that cost multiple millions and usually do not push the boundaries of the medium. This is the reason why my attention has been recently grabbed by the indie games scene which contains many great, small but yet innovative titles. Since these games do not have the same budget behind them as big franchises do, some of them do not get any attention from gamers. Rorschach, an experimental investigation game developed by Jens Andersson (who also worked on The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and The Darkness), is one of these forgotten gems.
Released back in 2008, Rorschach tells the story of a little man who walks into an asylum and is asked to investigate a crime scene to find who killed Dr. Sanchez. To do so, you must walk around the asylum and talk to residents to find information including what really happened as well as how well each of the characters got along with the victim. Every new clue will push your investigation further and eventually lead you to the murderer.
However, what makes Rorschach special is its conversation system. When talking to any of the game’s character, topics will be discussed. Each of these topics can then be placed in your “topic inventory” (which has four slots) and used to make the other characters talk about it. This will force you to talk to everyone in the game about almost every topic you can obtain. Interestingly, some of them will help you in your investigation while others will put you on a dead trail. Just to give you an idea, I have suspected around four of the characters of being the murderer during my investigation before finding the assassin.
One of the elements that make the game special (aside from the interesting gameplay mechanic I just told you about) is its art style. The first visuals used for the game were actually “stolen” from Jens Andersson’s girlfriend website who then offered to produce original art for the game. Also, everything you see is ink-painted, which works really well with the setting and the spirit of the game. Rorschach’s look is simple, beautiful and does manage to take you into a very special universe.
The audio of the game relies only on its music. Since the game was only an experiment, the theme from the Japanese movie Oldboy was used as a placeholder. While the game’s creator intended to change it due to possible copyright issues, the music was not removed. This is a good thing since it really fits with the universe and the art style found in Rorschach.
While video games still are considered as an art form on very rare occasions, Rorschach do show why they should be. The game was also shown at the FILE festival in Sao Paolo (Brazil) and at the M.A.D.E. festival in Sweden in 2008. If you love experiencing special and innovative experiences, this game is a must. It will make you doubt, think, and be amazed at how complicated the investigation can get.
Rorschach is available on PC for free at http://www.collectingsmiles.com/rorschach/ .
Game experience at time of redaction: Murderer found and many dialogue options used (if not all of them).