There’s no real mystery as to why iGamers everywhere aren’t shouting about this expertly crafted interactive novel from the rooftops. The long and short of it is Cause of Death: Can You Catch The Killer (out now, $0.99 & Free) simply had the poor luck of being released on one of the App Store’s busiest ever weeks alongside a staggering array of established franchises and the much-hyped likes of Infinity Blade and Aralon: Sword and Shadow. It’s a shame though, because this is easily one of most interesting and original titles I’ve played/read all month.
Taking cues from the pulp thriller genre, as well as popular TV crime shows such as CSI and Bones, Cause of Death grips from the outset with handsome, comic book-esque visuals, intuitive gameplay blended with page-turning action and sharply written plot and dialogue. The riveting story is told from the viewpoints of a diverse cast of characters – a tough-talking detective, a sassy FBI agent, crime scene technicians and more – as they hunt a serial killer who has recently graduated from preying on prostitutes to ritualistically killing wholesome college girls and grafting bizarre masks to their faces.
Cause of Death’s gritty tone is established early on when we witness a grisly murder through the eyes of the victim, and as the player delves into San Francisco’s seedy underbelly to chase down leads, grill suspects and gather evidence, the rollicking pace rarely lets up.
The interactive side of things is woven into the narrative in a clever and naturalistic way which never feels gimmicky or forced. As you tap your way through chunks of text, at key points, you’re presented with a number of options on how to proceed. Be warned though, each and every decision you make influences the outcome of the scene you’re playing, and can result in the investigation being botched, or worse, your protagonist meeting a sticky end. What this means is you’ll really want to engage your gray matter and pay close attention to the dialogue so as you don’t miss a clue vital to solving a puzzle further down the line.
As it stands, Cause of Death is a bit short for my liking, but the developers are committed to updating the game with new content on a regular basis. Interestingly, new chapters will be added weekly in a serialized, TV show inspired manner, with the option to download them free of charge as and when they become available, or to pay for “never-before-aired storylines” ahead of time. Intrigued?. I thoroughly recommend jumping aboard this game sooner rather than later, because Cause of Death has runaway hit written all over it.
iFanzine Verdict: An intelligently written and gripping thriller powered by well implemented interactive elements, impressive production values and the gloss of a big-budget TV show. In short, a must-read game.