Title: Crescent Bay
Platform: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Advect Productions
Publisher: Humble Originals
Release date: December 1, 2017
Price: Included with Humble Bundle (Dec 2017)
TL;DR: A short murder-mystery with an original crime solving mechanic.
Family Friendly?: Click here for more information.

Indie studio Advect Productions has partnered up with Humble for their Originals programme to bring you two short games for December’s Humble Bundle: Crescent Bay and THOR.N. The aim of these games is to create a meaningful experience over a short period of gameplay.

While the opening scene is sufficiently creepy – you find yourself in a field, at night with twisted trees and poor lighting – the rambling monologue of your character’s thoughts and musings seems a bit much to take in. Your name is John and you learn that you have a gift with words. You can see the meanings behind them, and the actions and memories that make them.

Confused? Yeah, so was I. But you’re soon given context.

Something – some feeling – has brought you to your friend’s house. A door appears in the field in front of you, swinging open to conveniently (and spookily) beckon you inside.

What awaits you in the living room is a typical crime scene; overturned lamps and chairs, a pool of blood on the floor, trailing off towards a closed door as if something – or someone – has been dragged, the TV switched on but alerting you to no signal. As you process the scene in front of you, complete with the eerie, ambient sounds of the storm outside, you decide to use your abilities to try to piece together what happened.

You are prompted to open a Journal and select “Dinner” from one of the pages. Upon exiting the journal, you see the spectral shape – the memory – of your friend Audrey, eating dinner at her dining table. You must now use the word journal to unlock nine more memories, to piece together what happened. Certain items in the room will have a white outline when you hover over them but you can’t interact with them, they’re put there to give you hints to which words you’re looking for.

While I like the idea of reconstructing the crime scene, I found myself going through the journal and selecting words that seemed to be appropriate, only to find that nothing happened, no memories were triggered. I ended up resorting to selecting and deselecting words in order until I found one that did work. And then, I realised you could actually select more than one word at a time to form a phrase. Once I had this figured out, the process became enjoyable, if not a little too easy.

When you have found all ten memories, you will need to place them in order, to reconstruct the last moments of your friend’s life, leading to the game’s rather ambiguous conclusion.

The game is also not without its bugs; on my first playthrough, I got as far as the telephone scene after initially discovering the crime and found that I couldn’t move or interact with the phone to prompt the game to continue, so had to restart. On my second playthrough, while trying to figure out how to find memories, I somehow managed to pick up the key to the locked door which took me straight to the end of the game, bypassing everything.

While I like the idea behind Crescent Bay, finding the memories and reconstructing the events feel a bit clunky and forced. You’re only given specific words to choose from when searching for memories, and all of them are used, so it’s just a matter of finding the right order or combination, though perhaps this was the easiest way around the time constraints of the game. And despite the game’s eerie opening, the game is more murder-mystery than it is horror.

The Good

  • Interesting mechanic to piece together what happened
  • Good voice acting

The Bad

  • Can be buggy
  • Opening narrative is a bit wordy

Family Focus

Rated: Not yet rated; Blood and violence are present, making this unsuitable for children.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.