Bohemian Killing

True to its name, this investigative Parisian adventure features just one killing. It takes place before even the title screen appears, entailing a mysterious man and a helpless woman in a finely decorated hotel room. She screams as he approaches with a sword in his hand, franticly backing away. Blood spurts through the air, and then the camera slowly rises to reveal a picturesque view of Paris.

Despite the clichés, it’s an opening full of intrigue. A year later – 1894, to be exact – our young inventor protagonist stands before a judge accused of murder. At this point, incidentally, it isn’t clear whether they were the dapper gent shown during the intro. The judge lists all the evidence against you in a drawn-out fashion, wonky French accent and all.

Things look bleak. Thankfully, your attorney isn’t going to see you marched to the guillotine without a fair trial, allowing you to provide your own tale of what happened that night.

What then ensues is a real-time breakdown, viewed in first-person. This is your chance to find evidence and flaws in the testimony while gaining the judge’s confidence that you’re innocent. Several endings are available depending on how much evidence is uncovered, and due to being in real-time, it’s crucial to revisit the murder scene at the exact time it took place. This involves keeping an eye on the clock and using time-skipping methods (reading a paper, etc) wisely.

Depending on how thorough you are, a playthrough can last from mere minutes to half an hour – the testimony can be closed at any time by turning in for the night. The game’s brief nature suits the Switch, giving the chance to retry cracking the case in the same time it takes to watch a TV show.  

Just two main locations feature, including the accused’s apartment block and the luxury hotel opposite, with only a small street and a bar to separate them. As you wander around every single action is narrated, which can lead to heavy repetition when rummaging around rooms or taking a flight of stairs. It also doesn’t help that the voice acting is inconsistent in quality.

The amount of loading screens is another downside; the game world is so small that we had to question their existence. They are, at least, mercifully brief. And while there is quite a bit of detail in the environments, everything is rather angular. It isn’t an ugly game, but hardly a masterpiece.

At the end of the trial a tally of evidence found along with the judge’s level of faith is revealed, giving something to work towards on the next attempt at emerging a free man. Somewhat amusingly, being heralded as insane is another possible outcome. Off to the looney bin with you!

Chances are your first playthrough results in the well-spoken lead being executed. There’s an overwhelming amount of evidence presented at the beginning, which makes for a daunting opening.

Soon, though, several discrepancies in the judge’s claims become noticeable. A hidden room located behind a bookshelf and an alternative basement entrance for deliveries likewise make the murder more complex than it initially seems. The presence of what appears to be a torture device in the accused apartment only confounds matters further.

Then comes the clincher – the signature in the hotel guestbook was proven as a fake before the court proceedings took place, and so there was always an element of doubt to begin with. There’s a decent number of threads to follow.

Due to some sloppy design choices – including the muddled and initially baffling courtroom opening scene – Bohemian Killing isn’t quite Switch eShop gold. The novel concept, intriguing story and mature tone help alleviate some of its shortcomings, however, all while making it stand out from the typical eShop fare.

It has enough unique ideas to warrant closer inspection, certainly.

SCORE
6

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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