The second instalment of the Casebook series, Casebook Episode II: The Watcher delves into the mysterious suicide of a man named Salt. As Detective Burton’s “Partner”, it’s your duty to uncover evidence in this bizarre case full of twists and turns and uncover what really happened.
Casebook Episode II: The Watcher begins where the previous game left off. Detective Burton has been called to yet another crime scene, this time: a living complex which was previously a mental hospital. One of the disturbed inhabitants, a young man by the name of Francis Salt, was found dead after seemingly jumping from his window. But after interviewing the other residents, all with vast histories of disturbia and strange behavior both past and present, Burton becomes suspicious and suspects that there’s more to this odd case than meets the eye.
Casebook Episode II follows the same point-and-click adventure format as the previous title. Yet unlike typical point and click adventure games, this one lets you smoothly explore and interact with your environment, as if you were actually there. The game can either be played with the mouse or with the keyboard, using simple and self-explanatory click controls and arrow keys. A camera is used to gather evidence, and an in-game computer is present to process the evidence.
The game features four different crime scenes in three different rooms, each with a varied amount of evidence and objects to analyze. Evidence is relatively easy to find, but certainly not a walk in the park: there are false leads at every corner. However, not as many as the previous title, which left us feeling a little worn-down after a while if we didn’t find the right pieces.
The game has further implemented the trusty “i” key to kindly direct you to the next piece of evidence when you’re feeling stuck. A variety of puzzles are also present in the game when processing evidence on the computer, such as fixing and correcting video feed, dusting for fingerprints, and analyzing evidence under a microscope. Unlike Episode 1 of the Casebook series, this game does not have different widely-spaced crime scene locations, and instead the entire story focuses on the inside of the living complex where the crime occurred.
The Casebook series is unique in that it uses real live actors instead of computer-generated characters, which gives off a movie vibe. The ability to move the camera around during movie scenes where Burton specifically addresses you also gives the game a very immersive feel that is exceptionally well-executed and unique.
The game further boasts a very interesting story and a much more memorable cast and characters than the last game of the series. Several very wonderful, small additions have been added as well, such as subtitles and new puzzles that keep the gameplay new and refreshing. In-game saving has also been vastly improved, so that when you quit the game, you will restart it exactly where you left off.
However, the lack of variation in the Crime Scene environments leaves you wanting more, and can make the process of finding evidence feel very bland and repetitive. While playing the game, there were also a few instances where the game shut itself down without warning after some of the movie scenes. We’re not sure if this was a computer-specific occurrence or an actual bug, but nonetheless it did mare the gameplay experience a bit.
The environment resolution perspective correction has also been vastly improved, but isn’t perfect: your eyes may hurt after a while when you keep zooming in to take pictures of blurry objects and evidence. Game objectives are also a bit confusing and unclear.
Yet it would be unfair to categorize Casebook Episode II: The Watcher as a bad game. The developer, Clocktower Games, spent a lot of time improving on things that weren’t so great in the first game, and the improvements are obvious. The sound and video quality, and the in-game environment resolution, as well as the addition of subtitles and new puzzles of a familiar nature are much improved. And of course, the acting is just as good, if not better than Episode 1. The characters and the game have a very believable and professional appeal: definitely not cheesy acting.
In conclusion, Casebook Episode II: The Watcher is really a hit or miss sort of game: you will either really enjoy it, or really not. For people who are interested in crime scene investigation, mysteries, and forensics, those who are looking for a realistic, immersive casual gaming experience, or someone who might be looking for a new variation of point and click hidden object adventures, this would be a great game. But for everyone else, you’d really be taking your chances. This is the sort of game you’d probably want to try first or demo before buying. One thing is for certain though: Casebook Episode II: The Watcher is a unique and innovative game that leaves you curious for more.