The Sexy Brutale Xbox One Review

May 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher: Tequila Works  Developer: Tequila Works, Cavalier Game Studios  

Genre: Puzzle, Stealth  Players: 1  Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4

The Sexy Brutale has a clever premise for a game and can be commended for putting it to such excellent use; simplistic but effective is The Sexy Brutale in a nutshell. Played from an isometric viewpoint, you take control of Lafcadio Boone, whose mission it is to save other characters located around a large mansion who are all stuck in a time loop, doomed to be murdered over and over again unless you can stop it.

The game boasts some eerie visuals, though it gives the setting a sense of history.

What is unique about The Sexy Brutale is that, to accomplish your mission, you use clocks and a special pocket watch to manipulate time, and time is of the essence as you stealthily watch other characters going about their business, watching their routines and working out what needs to be done before they are brutally murdered by the mansions staff. Using the pocket watch, you can reverse time to intervene with events and save these characters, with time also reversing itself automatically if you don’t achieve your goal within the in-game 12 hour period.

When solving a puzzle there is some tactical thinking to be had; dotted about the mansion are clocks that act as save points, but the tactical thinking comes into play when you need to work out where is best to save so that when time reverses, you start at a more convenient location. When time reverses, everything you have collected will be lost and placed back in their original spot, meaning you need to save at places that give you the best advantage to complete the puzzle before a character is killed.

The Sexy Brutale makes effective use of stealth, with Lafcadio Boone spying through doorways, listening to encroaching footsteps, eavesdropping on conversations that can reveal useful information, all to work out how to save these characters. Lafcadio Boone can pick up items that can also be used in a particular way to help you progress.

Each character you have to save is wearing a special mask, and once they have been saved, Lafcadio Boone can wear these masks, giving him additional powers, or enhancing ones he already has. His hearing improves, allowing him to listen at further distances; he gains the power of second sight, meaning he is able to speak to the ghosts that stalk the mansion, and who may also have useful information. He can walk through mirrors, which make for some excellent short cuts; he can shatter anything made of stained glass, and also gains the ability to become a lock picker. As you learn these new abilities, it enables you to use what you have gained to save the preceding character.

A character lays dead… You have the option to reverse time at will, you don’t have to wait for the in-game 12 hour period to end before reversing time and trying again.

During your mission, as well as collecting masks and useful items, you’ll also be collecting playing cards and invitations. The cards can be used in a particular way once the game has been completed, and through collecting invitations, and by making other discoveries, you can unlock information in the Brochure section of the menu, where you’ll be given more insight into the background of the characters, the mansion and the story.

The art style compliments the tone of the game very well, characters having unrealistic proportions – big heads, small bodies – and with the mansion looking very old fashioned and dark, like there is a mysterious story yet to unfold, its history coming back to haunt them. The music is also very jolly and enjoyable to listen to, with the jazzy music changing to a more dramatic style as you progress, further instilling a sense of drama as the story reaches its climax. The story itself is intriguing and manages to keep you hooked with its mystery of what is actually happening in the mansion.

The visuals and sound also work together in harmony, upping the creep factor, with certain areas feeling very dark and surreal. What I particularly like about the sound design is that whilst you are attempting to save a particular character, you can hear sounds from other areas of the mansion that implies other characters have been killed – you’ll hear gunshots, glass smashing, electrics buzzing, as characters meet their demise off-screen. You can only save characters around the mansion once, and hearing these sounds makes the story all the more poignant as you realise that, even though you have saved them, they are still doomed to relive their fate. It also makes the mansion feel alive; even though you are focusing on one particular mission, these sounds help to make you feel as though there is still much going on behind the scenes that you have yet to witness.

Here Lafcadio is listening out for other characters and enemies. He can also peek through doors; these are his most basic of skills, and gains other abilities as you progress.

Whilst there isn’t much to complain about, a bug bear of the game is that it suffers from terrible lag. Thankfully it didn’t crash while I was playing, though it takes a few pushes of the button to go through a door, with the lag causing slow response times, and this can be frustrating when avoiding enemies. Luckily there is no death for you – Lafcadio never experiences death, instead the masks of enemies will float towards you, chasing you out of the room. This could make the gameplay feel inconsequential, though with the threat of time reversing and hindering what progress you have made, that in itself is consequential enough.

The Sexy Brutale is a short and sweet game, and there’s little to fault. It’s essentially a puzzle game wrapped up in a stealth game, but what the developers have created is certainly very novel and have put certain mechanics to excellent use. With its intriguing story and simplistic style of gameplay, it will certainly keep you hooked from start to finish.