Reviews

Review: A Salem Witch Trial - Murder Mystery

Digital Bento
A digital painting of a hand holding a human eye
Digital Bento: A Salem Witch Trial

Having always been a stickler for text adventures, I took a shot at A Salem Witch Trial - Murder Mystery and had some fun playing around. So, was it worth it? Well, depends on what you're looking for, doesn't it?

Digital Bento is a one man artist turned studio, so A Salem Witch Trial is a lone effort, lending the game an subtle personal touch. Well, lone if you don't count the music, which was perfectly matched to the tone of the game. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

Digital BentoA digital painting of a hand holding a human eyeDigital Bento: A Salem Witch Trial

It just so turns out that the market for text adventures is actually booming. People are looking for something shorter and simpler than a novel, but longer and more engaging than a simple story.

It seems text adventures fill this niche nicely and we've got to say - we've thoroughly enjoyed our time in A Salem Witch Trial. Strangely enough, even though the game launched yesterday - it still managed to take us down memory lane.

Digital BentoA game menu with a painting of a woman on the rightDigital Bento: A Salem Witch Trial

A Salem Witch Trial's story is set in 1629 in Salem, Oregon, at the time of infamous Salem Witch trials. Player wakes up to cries of murder, in a village already struck by a terrible plague, with its citizens blaming everyone and everything.

Murder of a prominent farmer Henry and his wife Mary Jacob alerts the village to a presence of a which among them. In fact, Mary's last words seemed to have been exactly that, driving most villagers to picking up them pitchforks and start finding people to burn in somewhat of a we'll-eventually-burn-the-right-person hunt. 

Digital BentoA pencil drawing depicting a graveyard Digital Bento: A Salem Witch Trial

This is where the real story of Salem Witch Trial - Murder Mystery starts. Players are left to themselves in sifting through evidence and testimonies of locals trying to piece together what exactly happened and who exactly is at fault.

Seeing as how Salem Witch Trial is still a novel of sorts, think along the lines of Agatha Christie, only much shorter of course. However, the elaborate web of information waiting for you to dissect and deduce your way through the game is no less complex than you may find in your average crime novel. Except of course, this time it's you who makes choices, not some douche with a moustache. I'm kidding you guys, chill.

Digital BentoA digital painting of a hand holding a human eyeDigital Bento: A Salem Witch Trial

Using the game's main map, you'll find yourself running around, talking to people and piecing together information on the murder, as well as other actors in the story.

Digital BentoA digital painting of a hand holding a human eyeDigital Bento: A Salem Witch Trial

Actors/suspects are aplenty, from the shady, ethically questionable merchant, who's come to Salem with potions and ailments that don't really heal, to disgruntled competing farmer John Miller and Jacobs family daughter slash witch suspect - the game will have you pointing fingers left and right unless you get down to reading and thinking. Yeah, now you see why text adventures aren't everybody's cup of coffee.

Digital BentoA pencil drawing depicting a village with gallows in the middleDigital Bento: A Salem Witch Trial

A Salem Witch Trial's story can be replayed several times with several outcomes, depending on players' choices, which is a nice touch. This means that £/$/€3.99, which is what the game goes for, buys you a few shots at the game, with yours truly only unlocking 50 per cent of achievements during the few hours I spent on the game.

Digital BentoA digital painting of a hand holding a human eyeDigital Bento: A Salem Witch Trial

As you can see, the visuals may be static but are simply beautiful - backdrops and characters are painted digitally yet in the traditional oil technique, which lends itself well to the calming, soothing tone of the game. We're serious, don't mind the witch hunting theme - there's something about it that's incredibly relaxing.

Music is perfect for the job - not a radio tune to dance to, it's a sombre, slow paced tune that we could, and did, listen for hours on end. The simple seemingly two chord structure makes it a subtle companion on your quest.

In conclusion, if you're looking for an AAA title - you know where those are. If you're looking for a nice way to spend your commutes, you may want to give Salem Witch Trial a chance - you'll be pleasantly surprised. I know I was. Now burn the witch, buuuurn her.

Digital BentoPencil drawing of crowd in front of empty gallows Digital Bento: A Salem Witch Trial