I have a soft spot for interactive fiction works about crime in fantasy settings. “Dungeon Detective” is a great addition to that genre, describing a gnoll’s investigation of a case of dungeon looting that a dragon has hired him to solve.
Gameplay: This work is choice-based, but the choices are meaningful. Ultimately, this is a detective game: Your goal is to gather clues, question any witnesses you can find, and piece together the solution to the puzzle. You can miss clues and go down wrong paths, though there are convenient save points to eliminate any frustration. The game is medium-length, and its writing is strong enough that canvassing the dungeon for clues doesn’t get tedious. 8/10.
Mechanics: Gameplay consists of wandering the dragon’s dungeon for clues, then the equivalent of taking a short quiz to test whether you found the correct solution. The investigation makes sense, and it requires remembering prior clues in places rather than just exploring every possible link. Nevertheless, I found the mystery itself a bit disappointing; I was expecting a more coherent and satisfying puzzle than just a series of details. 7/10.
Presentation: The game is charming throughout. The cover artwork is great, there are some genuinely funny lines in the story (much of the initial conversation between Sniff and the dragon), and the game is perfectly paced for its length. The protagonist is compelling and fun to read about, particularly in his interaction with other characters, and he has a distinct personality. 9/10.
You might be interested in this game if: You like light, funny fantasy games with strong characterization.