What’s cooler than listening to your favourite true-crime podcast while walking out and about? How about solving a true-crime yourself? Eastern Market Murder is a new venture in augmented-reality gaming, putting you in the shoes of a detective circa 1899 as you question suspects and analyse clues and environments.
I’m a supremely rare player of smartphone games, but even I was entertained by the premise and the prospect of being an active participant of a criminal investigation, rather than a spectator. I am certain that Eastern Market Murder will not be the last in what is potentially a boundless and engaging genre of gameplay.
After an attack leaves one dead and two injured, your job is to investigate who did it and why. Discover clues, interrogate witnesses – its L.A. Noire lite with an extra layer of physical participation. I say ‘lite’ because Eastern Market Murder isn’t a game, so much as a narrative experience. It lacks consequences for failing to correctly survey a scene or not finding enough evidence. You won’t be allowed to leave a location if you haven’t sufficiently examined it. It’s also very generous with hints, meaning that you will end up on the correct path one way or another. This lack of agency makes the game accessible to casual players, but supremely limiting and unengaging for hardcore gamers.
Taking Environmental Engagement To Another Level in Eastern Market Murder
The game cleverly takes advantage of its local setting by allowing you to go to the scene of the crime itself in real life. Of course, you can play this in your living room like I did (curse you, coronavirus), but I love the concept. I’m again reminded about potential future applications for narrative-based AR gaming using real-life locations, which could be endless with fictional stories.
I do hope that these future games iron out the bugs that Eastern Market Murder has – in one instance I couldn’t hand my interviewee an item because I couldn’t angle myself in order for him to extend his arm out, despite moving myself around extensively. I had to restart my game to get it working. I’m also not entirely sure if the lack of sound, music or voice acting was intentional or another glitch of mine, but I wish there was some sound here to really bring home the immersion.
The world gets one step closer to living out their Sherlock Holmes roleplaying fantasies with the release of Eastern Market Murder – make sure to bring along your basset hound and deerstalker cap to really sink into the character. Despite some software flaws and a lack of branching narratives or gameplay, the ambition displayed here is truly palpable. There is bound to be another game in the future with more polish, more features and more depth that owes Eastern Market Murder a great debt.
By Nick Whiting
Eastern Market Murder, despite some hardware flaws and bugs, is a solid first effort in innovative mobile gaming. Its strong narrative hook and accessible gameplay will undoubtedly spur a rich new genre with a dedicated fanbase.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by True Crime Mysteries. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.