I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!
Amount Played for Review: 1 case (out of 7); ~90 minutes
Platform: PC (Steam)
Originally released as an iOS title, the first 3 episodes of Telltale’s Law & Order game have recently been ported on PC, with the rest coming soon.
The game features a dream team of Law and Order characters, past and present, across all the series, and follows the structure of the series very closely. Gameplay, however, is a bit simplistic, though that’s somewhat to be expected given it’s originally an iOS title.
Like the show, each case is broken down into two segments; a detective mode and a prosecutor mode. They both have similar basic mechanics, but also play slightly differently. During the Detective mode, you interview persons of interest through a dialog tree system that is very reminiscent of Phoenix Wright.
By asking the right questions, and giving the right responses to some really pointed game questions (“Do you trust this answer?”), you earn Stars which are used to rank your investigation at the end. If you don’t get perfect in a scene, you’re always given the option at the end of it to replay the scene for a better score.
In the end, it just feels like it’s a really light version of a typical Telltale adventure game. Which is fair enough, since this WAS an iOS title, but it makes me wish a bit they redid things for the PC port.
After you go through the scenes and arrest a suspect as the detectives, you switch to the Order side of the series and play as one of the prosecutors. For the most part the game plays in a similar fashion since it’s about responding to dialog options, but the mechanics are a bit different.
Where detectives had stars as the only way to rank their skill, prosecutors are based on swaying the opinion of the jury, which is based on a “scales of justice” meter. As you perform well, ask the right questions, and make the correct objections, the jury sides more with your argument, making it easier to get a conviction or have a better position for a plea bargain. A problem with this mode, though (at least, it was for episode 1) is that objecting almost always sounded very mechanical, as the game would ask you if you wanted to object, play the voice clip, ask what kind of objection, and then play that clip. It usually sounded more like a robot pulling out separate voice clips.
That said, though, other then one kind of strange logical leap in the first episode, the flow of the story was so much like a Law and Order episode that I was starting to have flashbacks. And Telltale advertises the entire 7 episode season as having a single overarching plot, which makes me pretty interested since the first one is written really well. My only real complaints are that the gameplay is still very much grounded in typical iOS mechanics, and the graphics don’t look like they were redesigned for the PC. The aesthetics still work, though.
A friend also tells me that the first episode is free on the iOS store, so folks who want to give the PC version a try can demo it there as well.