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DETECTIVE – Minerva Review (PS5, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Xbox X|S)

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DETECTIVE - Minerva Case Review

Strategy, wit, and an insatiable curiosity are essential traits for anyone eager to uncover hidden truths and solve mysteries. A prime example is the 2013 DETECTIVE: Stella Porta Case, an indie puzzle adventure game by k148 Game Studio and JanduSoft. The game placed you in the shoes of a detective grappling with three mysterious disappearances. While the game does not push you out of your comfort zone, it offers a refreshing break from larger gaming experiences.

If you enjoyed this  game, you're in for a treat with DETECTIVE-Minerva Case, the game’s spiritual successor. The developers have returned with a sequel that maintains the classic gameplay features of the original, while also introducing new elements to keep the game fresh. In this installment, you once again step into the role of a detective, this time investigating a sci-fi mystery. The game's pacing is well-balanced, with the narrative unfolding as you progress through the cases. Will the game live up to its predecessor, or will it set a new standard? Grab your magnifying glass and hold on to your hats as we delve into this mystery in our DETECTIVE – Minerva Case review.

The Detective Is In

Police report

Right off the bat, the game throws you into its first case. A well-known hacker has had his brains blown off, and being the relentless sleuth that you are, you show up first at the crime scene. It takes a few seconds for the cyberpunk setting to come to light. Once again, we play as an unknown detective, and there is no character creation or customization here. It's just you and the screen. The game unfolds from a first-person perspective as you go around rooms searching for clues. 

Kane, your first murder victim, is slouched on the seat with a huge gaping hole in his temple and his eyes wide open. The room appears untouched, with pieces of evidence awaiting your eureka discovery. As the game puts it, Kane is a renowned hacker and a wanted man on the justice list. Evidently, the case is on the extreme end of high profile and couldn't come at a better time. You see, the year is 2068. Lupa Corps has just unveiled its groundbreaking AI system, Minerva. The system is poised to bring about revolutionary change. However, the high-profile murder you are called into could potentially shake up the corporation's fate, or not. 

Deep in the Neon Noir

Kanes room full of computer screens

DETECTIVE – Minerva Case's storyline comes to light as you investigate the mystery. Kane's room is evidently a hacker's paradise. Endless screens placed at ceiling heights in a one-room apartment.  A quick look outside will allow you to clearly see the sci-fi setting with flying vehicles. But it appears Kane stuck to his old ways with analog hacking equipment. It's surprising to see a typewriter in use 24 years into the future. But these tiny pieces of details add to the setting. This shows how careful of a hacker Kane is and the greater heights the developers went to showcase this. It reminds me of the Netflix Japanese sci-fi thriller Alice in Borderland, where survivors find themselves in a parallel world and analog gadgets rule the day. 

Your task is simple; carefully go through the room and uncover any piece of evidence. The game tests deduction skills, where you piece together clues for a pattern with just the bullet hole and scattered information from the hacker's computer and apartment. To the left of your screen is a counter that shows the amount of evidence you need to pick up before proceeding. Once you interact with a piece of evidence, it gets automatically added to your HUD. 

All In A Day's Work

Clutter in kanes room

From the surface, DETECTIVE – Minerva Case upholds the elements of its previous title. I mean, the simplicity of uncovering the clues makes it accessible to gamers of all experiences. The game sort of holds your hand as you uncover evidence. A small pointer grows into a bigger circle once you hit an element of valuable evidence. Clicking on it reveals information that will certainly tone down the mystery. Like when I saw two cups by the table, I instinctively knew that it was an indication the murder victim wasn't alone. I have the CSI series to thank for all those years that have prepared me to be a virtual detective. In case you don't have these skills, the game will nudge you in the right direction.

I did appreciate the different twists the game throws at you, kind of like what you'd get from a crime scene. After going through the apartment, you'll find Kane's psychological history, which points to a chronic case of paranoia. His love for analog technology is a major giveaway to his condition and a crucial piece of the puzzle. 

Moreover, you don't need to be a tech nerd to get into the victim's computer. Just a click, and you are in. Again, I admire the great heights the developers went to mimic old technology in the computer's interface and interactions. It all seems there is more than meets the eye, which certainly adds intrigue to the mystery.

Let me not forget the subtle pieces of humor that seamlessly blend into the storyline. I was floored when I opened an email from a Nigerian Prince claiming to be kidnapped. A slight hint that not even the greatest hackers are unreachable. 


timeline board

Once you have all your evidence pieces, it's back to the office to unravel the mystery. The office, a boardroom of some sort, lined with bulletin boards to one side and a timeline screen on the far end corner, is where you get your eureka moment. All the pieces you collected are displayed on the board. Here, the deductive gameplay comes to light since you have to arrange the photographs in order of how the crime transpired.

Again, the game gives you hints on how to achieve this. Each picture has a side note attached to it. As easy as it seems, the game provides shreds of evidence but tells you only six are relevant. It's time to put your thinking cap on. 

After entering the correct chronological order, the game sheds light on what transpired, finally revealing the murderer. Only then do you proceed to the next case. 

The Good

Flying police car

DETECTIVE – Minerva Case is pretty straightforward. Its narrative doesn't take a detour or feature an endless narrative that does less to add to the core gameplay. Instead, it immediately puts you to work. Admittedly, the overarching story is compelling and entirely relatable. The missing pieces of the puzzle do a great job of telling a complete story once they all come together.

Visually speaking, the game looks good, with great details and design. The attention put into crafting a murder scene with the victim still in position and eyes wide open is reminiscent of the real deal. Thankfully, it doesn't have much gore. The image is decent enough to tell a story and immerse you in the big detective shoes. 

Hats off to the developers for the intricate placement of the clues. For just one level, the game throws enough clues at you to really get you invested in the mystery. Again, the devs show their commitment to detail with small clue pieces that keep the wheels turning.

Moreover, a smooth soundtrack brings the game's charm to life. It eases you into the mystery, making it a great listening track. There are also some cases of voicing, which is rarely felt necessary but works well too. Although they don't necessarily stand out, they fulfill their purpose.

The Bad

Manager body

If you are looking for a hard-knock game that will have you racking your brain repeatedly, then this is your sign to jump ship. At its best, DETECTIVE – Minerva Case is a search-and-find game where you point the cursor and click to reveal items. It doesn't help that a few grammatical errors appear on the screens. These occasional writing issues could be improved for better clarity. For instance,  one of the clues pointed to the killer's specific gender. At first, I thought it was a ruse. But after uncovering the murderer, I'd like to think that was a grand mistake. 

Additionally, the timeline recreation also throws off the simplified gameplay. Placing the photos in chronological order is frustrating, especially if you don't get a hint about whether one image is in the correct position.


Minerva - DETECTIVE - Minerva Review

In a sea of indie puzzle games, DETECTIVE—Minerva Case is one of the few that swims close to the surface, making it noticeable and enjoyable. Its light take on detective elements makes it approachable and fun enough that even seasoned sleuths will enjoy it. 

The puzzles are cleverly designed, providing just the right amount of challenge without becoming frustrating. The visual style is another highlight, with vibrant graphics that bring the world of Minerva Case to life. The different characters, even though we don't interact with them directly, add a delightful layer of personality to the game.

DETECTIVE – Minerva Review (PS5, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Xbox X|S)

Sleuthing Simplicity

DETECTIVE – Minerva Case keeps things lighthearted and fun. The plot is not overly complex, but it’s engaging enough to keep players invested. Although it may not satisfy those looking for a deep, intricate detective story, the game’s strengths lie in its ability to entertain and captivate through its charming presentation and well-crafted puzzles.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.