Wales Interactive and Good Gate Media are continuing to push the boundaries on FMV games. Their most recent game, Bloodshore, turned a popular FPS genre into a gameshow worthy of appearing on the Hunger Games. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus is the next FMV game to come from the pair, mixing a murder mystery with a video call, and for what its worth, it’s quite enjoyable.
“Every person you talk to requires a different approach.”
The beginning of the game is incredibly abrupt. You’re thrown into the situation of your uncle, Marcus, telling you that he is dying in about the first minute or two of the game. Dragging this out might have sold the narrative a little better. However, on the other hand, the choose-a-path decisions begin almost instantly before you even get a chance to diagnose the situation, which definitely gets the heart pumping. The premise is simple. Marcus, your favourite and only uncle, has been poisoned by someone in the family. Now, as the only person he can trust, you must find out who in the family poisoned him. Conveniently, its quiz night, so you can interrogate people while hiding it inconspicuously in trivia questions.
The whole game is done via a video call, which after the past two years, seems quite realistic. You will talk to multiple people, with vastly different personalities. This means every person you talk to requires a different approach. Lottie is the self-obsessed younger sister, so her quiz questions are centred around herself. Toby and Bradley are your cousins, with one being really into the climate and helping, and the other into, well, murder — seems a little too obvious. Your condescending Mum and drunk Auntie constantly clash and are equally as difficult to talk to in one-on-one situations. Fortunately, the last character, Nan, is as sweet as can be, acting exactly how you’d expect a Nan to act.
“Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus feels a lot like a video game variant of Cluedo (or Clue)”
Furthermore, all these varying personalities do make for more thought-provoking than previous FMV games. In Bloodshore, I could almost guess the correct answers by just deciding on what the chances of my survival were in any given circumstance. However, in Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus, I almost always failed to gain any decent evidence that helped my cause. To make matters worse, you’re on a constant deadline as Marcus has a health bar that shows up occasionally, signalling that he is dying.
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus feels a lot like a video game variant of Cluedo (or Clue). It also feels as brutal as when you make a mistake in Cluedo (or Clue), and get the final Accusation incorrect — not that I have ever done that. Unfortunately, I did that a lot here. It feels incredibly difficult to try and find all the information in one playthrough, and I’d probably go as far to say it’s impossible. There are no make-up decisions and if you choose the wrong one, you immediately miss out on hearing the information. Therefore, with the game being time-sensitive, it feels like it ends as abruptly as it starts, especially if you don’t have enough evidence to accuse anyone. In this circumstance, I think a longer game would have been beneficial, rather than forcing you to start a new game.
“Marcus seems too calm for a person who is going to die.”
Luckily, every bit of evidence you obtain is saved permanently. This means your next playthrough will be made easier as you can see the pieces of evidence your previously obtained unless you choose to wipe it. After each round, you can also see what pieces of evidence you missed. Although, this only applies to the previous conversation with the specific character. It would have been nice to see an overall option of all the choices you were missing, so you could pinpoint who to chat with next; I suppose detectives don’t get answers handed to them.
So far, FMV games usually don’t quite have the level of acting you’d expect from a typical movie. Thankfully, in Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus, the acting is surprisingly good. There are some grey areas like Marcus who seems way too calm for a person who is going to die. Although, while this seems a little unrealistic, it might be a bit extreme if the game begins with him anxiously yelling at you. Fortunately, apart from this, most of the characters play their roles particularly well, and some of them really sell the toxic family dynamic that the game is trying to portray.
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus is a short game, with a 30-60 minute runtime, and for the low price of AU$18.50, the game is absolutely worth checking out. There are plenty of dialogue options and as previously mentioned its impossible to exhaust all the options in just one playthrough. Therefore, you’re going to definitely get some bang for your buck.