The Sexy Brutale reviewTime travel, murder mystery, and supernatural forces come to a head in this witty indie gem
Welcome to the Sexy Brutale — a sprawling mansion, casino and theater that hosts an annual masquerade for owner Lucas and his friends. This year sees a shift from the norm, however; staff are mysteriously killing off the guests, and you’re the only one who can save them. Lucky for them, you’re armed with a little time travel.
Forget the awkward, adult entertainment-esque title; The Sexy Brutale is a puzzle/adventure game with a simple though uncommon premise: you’ll need to save each of the guests from their horrendous fates in turn, with just hours on the clock to do so. The trick here is with the power of a special pocketwatch, granting you the ability to rewind back to noon at any time à la Groundhog Day.
A most horrific turn of events
With time ever ticking, you’ll be venturing around the giant mansion, exploring your surroundings and being tasked with saving various guests one (or two) at a time. Each is spread throughout the home, with their own secret intentions and ultimate demise awaiting them, and by observing what happens and some logical thinking, you’ll need to come up with a way of breaking the loop and saving the guest.
Each saved grants a new power, opening up new possibilities in places to visit and ways to interact with the world around you, and there’s never much downtime in wondering where you’re meant to go next. The Sexy Brutale is fairly linear, with each guest having all of the tools and information needed nearby in their respective areas of the home, though this does makes sense with the brief windows of time you’ll have available to rescue each.
Being in the same room as anyone else, staff or guest, is a big no-no, their supernatural masks threatening to strike should you choose to stick around. Instead, you’ll need to covertly gather intel by peeking through keyholes, spying on discussions and events from afar in order to figure how things play out and what you need to do to fix things.
Events always play out in the same way: two guests may be discussing something at 3pm in one particular room, while at the same time a third guest elsewhere has just been shot. Learning the routines of all staff and guests is essential to success, and The Sexy Brutale helps by tagging the known locations of each character on your map as you seen them in various times and places.
The world of The Sexy Brutale is a gorgeous one, a fantastic Victorian-Gothic vibe seeping throughout the house accompanied by a bombastic assortment of swing music, which drifts from upbeat and full of fun to discordant as the day progresses and the death toll increases. Each main area of the estate has its own signature tune and they’re mostly memorable, keeping it enjoyable to retread old ground and helping remind you which area you’re currently passing through.
While mainly a puzzler, solving and preventing each murder is mostly a simple affair, though I’ll admit to being stumped on a couple for a short time. Each guest to save is rather self-contained with everything you need within short reach, making it a matter of learning what’s around and how you can manipulate events in order to prevent the kill.
While the game seems rather straightforward, events unfold as you progress which help shed light on what’s truly going on behind the scenes — why this tragedy is happening, and the reason the day repeats endlessly. I enjoyed the story quite a bit, and though it’s nothing too extraordinary, the surprises and overall plot is well developed and a pleasure to experience.