The Painscreek Killings is a 1st person, point-and-click, free-roaming, mystery game. You begin the adventure as a journalist who wants to find out exactly what has happened in Painscreek to write a compelling story. Upon arrival; however, you find out that the town has been abandoned, gated and many investigators before you were tasked with similar missions but for one reason or another ended up unheard of.
As soon as the main menu came up, I felt very pleased with what I was seeing. The music is soothing and the graphics look like they’ve been filtered with a vintage lens. In a way the game resembles a walking-simulation but eventually you realize there’s a lot to tackle beyond the surface. I play PLENTY of adventure and mystery games and I consider this game probably the closest I got to a real detective-experience.
The village is very charming and immensely enjoyable to explore. This is a good thing because you’ll find yourself going back and forth through many of its locations. The layout, design and lore were carefully laid out. The various locations are interconnected and will definitely require you to write things down.
The game doesn’t depend on AI interactions, neither is it a straight-forward puzzler like most detective adventures these days. It heavily depends on visiting each destination, reading journal entries, letters and notes left behind by the village inhabitants and forming a picture. Eventually each location will augment pieces missing in another place until you draw a clear map of who the killer is, what weapon was used and where did the incident take place. In fact, you aren’t bound by a set of events taking place in this game to the point where you could end the game at anytime and immediately solve the mystery if you think you’re ready.
I truly loved this game. It felt pleasantly immersive and from the moment I started the game to the very end it kept me hooked. The horror factor in the game isn’t associated with goblins and monsters but there is a very prominent creepy theme going on. I consider games with subtle touches of horror far more effective than those that deliver it to your face.
While playing this game the weather wasn’t that great and we encountered a big storm that left us staying at home for days. This game was the perfect companion. I really enjoyed getting to know all the characters and following up with their leads. I also had a lot of fun experimenting with different note-taking apps to help me organize my thoughts & solve the investigation. Google Keep & Simple Mind mapping helped a great deal. The following is a mind map that I created for the game and it really helped to keep track of who’s who and who’s related to what. Although it doesn’t include the answer of the mystery, you might not want to zoom in too much to avoid spoilers.
My final score is 5/5 ★★★★★
- 5/5 for gameplay
- 4/5 for plot
- 5/5 for puzzles & exploration
- 5/5 for overall experience
Game Platform (played on): PC, Steam