With a wry smile, it’s time for Lord Winklebottom Investigates – Nintendo Switch Review. Sometimes you see a game in early development and think wow – this game is for me. Such was the case with Lord Winklebottom Investigates, a point and click murder mystery. In the game, you play as the intrepid duo of Winklebottom and his assistant Doctor Frumples (a giraffe and hippopotamus respectively).
This dynamic duo are very much the Holmes and Watson of their Victoria era Anthropomorphic world. A world populated with animals of all shapes and sizes and not without its share of murders. If that sounds a little ludicrous then great, you are in on the joke.
We played Lord Winklebottom Investigates on the Nintendo Switch though it is also available on Steam and Xbox. The game was bought by the reviewer and all opinions are our own and entirely subjective.
Welcome to a different Victorian Era
We first saw the trailer for Lord Winklebottom back in 2019. We then got a hands on go at EGX 2019 in London and it confirmed our first thoughts. This game was a hoot. The game itself is very much a traditional styled point and click. Lord Winklebottom and Doctor Frumples are requested to visit the island mansion abode of an old friend, Admiral Gilfrey. The Admiral has an announcement to make. Or at least he would have, had the water logged Axolotl not been murdered by one of the many colourful characters on the island. It’s up to our detectives to figure it all out.
The game comes from first time solo developer Cave Monsters and it oozes personality throughout. The art style is all hand drawn with colourful backgrounds and some lovely little environmental details. Some of the character designs are that perfect amalgamation of their species and personality of the character – a nice little piece of artistic storytelling. Our particular favourite was Price, the scientific chameleon whose eyes wander as she goes off on odd rants.
Navigation is simple, using a cursor to explore the static room or environment you are in. While designed for mouse ideally, we found it fine using the cursor on the Switch’s Joy Con to navigate around. You can check a notebook for character details or consult Frumples for a clue at any point. You can bring up your inventory with a button click or scrolling to the bottom of the screen.
Traditional Point and Click
Gameplay wise, this is a very pure point and click experience. You are given a set of obstacles & puzzles that you need to overcome. This could be through hints from characters or objects in the environment. It may also be with collecting everything you can and combining those items together to do… something.
The inventory never gets too big and the cast of characters is not so large that it ever feels unmanageable … for the most part. The music is also pitch perfect. Music in point and click games can be hit or miss because you may spend ages on just one screen and hearing that same tune over can get grating. The period appropriate music by Gustavo Coutinho gets it just right; it blends into the background when not needed and comes in when the scene at the right time.
The sound effects also hit the spot though we were left wondering just who voiced the goat screams. We experienced no bugs or issues on our copy of the game and managed to finish our first run through in about 4-5 hours.
If we had any criticism of the game, we have to admit that one or two solutions to the puzzles can take some back and forth; trying multiple combinations of the inventory to get right. One sequence in particular, while hilarious, does require a set of solutions to be presented one after another and failure to get it right takes you back to the start of the sequence.
To be clear, fans of traditional point and click games will probably find these no problem at all. The puzzles in Lord Winklebottom are in no way as esoteric as some you may find in say, Day of the Tentacle. Still, we could see some players doing some head scratching. You can consult Doctor Frumples for a hint but these are often high level and aren’t always helpful if you are struggling.
Ultimately though, these niggles meant very little to us as we played through because the game is just so charming and fun. The story is great, with twists and turns, in jokes and an appreciation of how silly this genre can be. The ending has some neat twists and epilogues that actually went beyond a basic murder mystery. We loved the voice work, the art and the music and ultimately the size of the game. It never outstayed its welcome nor did it feel too short. The story works in acts that seem just about the right length.
Lord Winklebottom Investigates – Nintendo Switch Review Conclusion
Lord Winklebottom Investigates is a rewarding and enjoyable point and click murder mystery that feels like more than the sum of its parts. As we stated at the start, this was a game was something that had appealed to us even before release so have to highlight. If, like us, you enjoy narrative stories with some puzzle elements then we think you’ll have a really fun time with Lord Winklebottom. You may find, as we did, a few puzzles take longer than perhaps they should but not annoyingly so. We hope we get to see more of Lord Winklebottom and his rotund companion Doctor Frumples in the future. It’s a superb debut from Cave Monsters as an indie studio.
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A well paced and very fun point and click
- Overall - 9/109/10
+ Excellent story, characters and voice acting
+ Well paced and a good length for the story
+ Lovely art and environmental detail
– A couple of puzzles may have you scratching your head in places
– PC might be the best fit for genre fans
Rudy Manchego has been gaming since the days of the BBC Micro Computer and spreads himself thin with a love of retro, indie and mainstream gaming. He’s one half of the Jambags Comedy Gaming podcast and likes nothing better than kicking back with a nice pot of lapsang souchong, a good game and a background podcast on the intricacies of Spanish cheese making.