It isn’t often that a video game comes around that changes the way I think about the medium. On the surface, The Sexy Brutale is a murder-mystery game with a unique Gothic art style. Dig deeper, however, and you’ll find that The Sexy Brutale is a mechanically deep and narratively interesting game that will keep you thinking long after you’ve completed it.
In The Sexy Brutale, you take on the role of party guest Lafcadio Boone, and the game plays out as a murder-mystery, with Lafcadio being tasked with preventing various party guests from their seemingly inevitable demises. The game takes place in the course of a single afternoon, so Lafcadio is granted with a Majora’s Mask-esque time travel mechanic, and he can use this mechanic to reset the day at any point in time and save each guest before the day is out. Lafcadio then can explore parts of the game’s mansion and spy on staff members and guests alike to determine who the next targets are, how they die, and what can be done to prevent their deaths. The player can spy through keyholes, eavesdrop through doors, and interact with different objects in each room to uncover secrets and find ways to trick fate. Lafcadio will be seen and attacked if he tries to enter a room where a guest or staff member is present, so all of his spying must be done from adjacent rooms.
With each guest that’s saved, Lafcadio gains a new ability which helps him progress to the next part of the mansion. Each section of the mansion has its own style and atmosphere, and I just had to explore every nook and cranny of each room, even if some parts served no functional purpose. Every murder scenario feels unique, and it’s always satisfying to finally reach that lightbulb moment when you realize how to save each guest. There are also many collectibles to find within the mansion, and you’ll be rewarded for finding them all throughout the game’s roughly seven-hour story.
It’s easy to become immersed in The Sexy Brutale with such beautifully crafted art, character designs, and accompanying music, but that immersion is often yanked away when the frame rate tanks between certain areas of the mansion. On more than one occasion, I was stuck waiting for a minute or longer between rooms, and I saw my fair share of loading icons. Frame rate issues were also present in the game’s original PC release, and unfortunately that carries over to—and is even worsened on—the Switch version. These issues don’t amount to a deal-breaker, but it is frustrating to be stuck between rooms, especially when you know where you need to go to prevent the next murder.
Frame rate issues aside, the game still looks gorgeous on Switch, in both handheld and docked modes. The game does look better on the Switch’s smaller screen, but I did play the majority of the game on my large-screen TV, and it still looks fantastic. Each part of the mansion has a different musical style to it, so it’s fun to explore the mansion just to take in the atmosphere of each area, even if the clock is ticking.
The Sexy Brutale on Nintendo Switch is a fun, murder-mystery style game that uses time and stealth mechanics in interesting and fun ways. Though the game’s story felt criminally short, solving each puzzle and saving each guest provides a sense of accomplishment that kept me thinking long after I’d stopped playing.
Disclaimer: A review code for The Sexy Brutale was provided by the game’s publisher.