Honor’s having a bad day and now there’s a huge stiletto embedded in the side of a drag bar.

I’ll yield that the person crushed underneath the back wheels of the Pride float is most likely having an even worse day. But provided Honor’s lost her task, her showrunner buddy, an award event and been at the scene for not one however 2 current murders – all under the shadow of a not-so-amicable divorce and a really, really annoying mom, might I include – I believe she may be running a close second.

We’ve been contacted us to the place by a good friend of ours, K.C. Before we were fired, K.C. tended our hair and makeup on the set of our hit program Murder Miss Terri where we played second-fiddle to bolshy Becky in the titular function. But instead of calling the cops on finding what’s left of the man crushed underneath the wheels of the celebration float, K.C. chose to drag us into it; you understand, since bad Honor hasn’t been through enough.

The factor he’s called us? Well, it appears Honor has actually taken in a few of the discovering skills she affected on her TELEVISION program. Following made a mess of examinations bookended with the sneers of the grousing investigator appointed to examine these strange deaths, it ends up we’re much better equipped than many to survey the scene and collect proof, mainly thanks to our brand-new robotic buddy SCOUT, a harmed however super-friendly robotic who sought us out to fix the secret of his missing out on memory. He too misinterpreted our TELEVISION personality for a real-life detective, the ridiculous thing.

I didn’t even discover the remains the very first time Honor got to the scene at the drag bar. I didn’t effectively discover them at the preceding ones, either. Murder by Numbers’ backgrounds are unapologetically brilliant and hectic, packed with colour and information so your look is permanently dancing throughout them, eyes bouncing from corner to corner as you take in the strong, vibrant environments and the meaningful movements of the cast. There’s no gore per se, however this suggests the couple of macabre touches – the handprints squeezed into a neck; the scarlet drops peppering a temple – stick out even more, much to my pleasure.

The cast itself is similarly varied and vibrant. I’m still unsure what to make from K.C. and Fran, the latter being drag queen bar owner, for while there are a lot of invited, favorable messages about approval and LGBT concerns here, a great deal of it is bound in teeth-clenching cliches and “thank STREISAND you weren’t there”s, which tempers the positivity a little. There’s likewise a not-so-subtle thread about power and psychological abuse woven throughout Honor’s tale, too, so be cautioned; it’s not simply murder and trouble you need to brace yourself for.

You’ll development through Honor’s story in a variety of methods; point-and-clicking for hints, snapping through the scenes of a visual book, and by resolving nonograms. The previous’s simple enough, as is the main style – characters chatter, you select what to state in action; absolutely nothing you have not seen prior to – however I’ll level with you here: the latter is… well, it’s unusual, best?

You see, SCOUT does exactly what he says on the tin; he scouts around for clues, using a scanner that might once have been cutting edge however is decidedly dated now. On discovering hints, you need to help him decipher the 8-bit-esque images of them by solving a series of puzzles – nonograms – that require you to fill in, or leave blank, cells on a grid.

Their days are numbered.

I’ll be honest; this prospect did not excite me. Sure, I’ve dabbled with a bit of Brain Training like the rest of us, but mathematical puzzles are not something I typically look for in gameplay at the end of the day, particularly as the conceit itself feels hammered into an otherwise unornamented visual novel.

I will be from here on in, though.

Though the name Murder by Numbers intimates a dusty experience that’ll kill you via relentless maths revision, these puzzles are exquisitely balanced and arrive right on time to break up the visual novel monotony. While a little overwhelming at first, there’s a great tutorial that’ll get you up and running sooner than you may expect, plus an easy mode for those who want the story with a less intellectually-taxing experience. The further you progress the more complex the puzzles will be, however you’ll likely learn – like I did – that even with eleventy-gazillion 1-1-1-1-1-1 combinations and not much else to go on, the silhouette of the image will assist guide you when all else fails.

This isn’t necessarily best enjoyed on the handheld console, mind. The bigger the puzzles get the more there is to squeeze into the minimal real estate of the Switch’s screen on which I was playing, which means I often ended up giving up my (otherwise thoroughly enjoyable) portable sessions as my poor, bleary-eyes couldn’t clearly make out the numbers peppering the sides any more.

Navigating the nonograms isn’t without incident, either; the reticle is a wild, unwieldy thing, often flicking over the wrong cell. Even though it happens with both the controller and joy-cons, I’ll admit in normal play this isn’t too much of a problem, however it’s an absolute stinker in the timed sequences. Losing the round because you’re not fast/clever enough is one thing; losing it because the reticle slips around the screen like a greased fish is quite another.

But I’m being picky. I came into Murder by Numbers not really knowing what the hell to anticipate, and I leave it as an ardent admirer. Hato Moa’s – the developer of Hatoful Boyfriend – cast is masterfully brought to life with their (primarily!) relatable personalities and reputable discussion, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney author Masakazu Sugimori constantly appears to understand exactly when to slow things down with a well-placed jazzy tune or pep us up with a liberal cleaning of 90s J-Pop.

Despite its dark styles, Murder by Numbers is an entirely initial reward and a total deal at that – I hope it surprises you for all the exact same fantastic factors, too.