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Community Article: Indie Insights - The Sexy Brutale

Written by John Edwards

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

Time loops and manipulation are popular with games, giving people a toy box of clockwork characters marching through the same sequence of events over and over until you step in like a digital Sam Beckett to put right what once went wrong.

In The Sexy Brutale, you play a priest who is encouraged to save people by a figure who appears by rising out of the ground. The people are all guests at the titular Sexy Brutale hotel, casino and time looped death trap. Everyone is wearing masks and for some reason the staff have it in for the guests.

Using a magic pocket watch you can repeat the same day over and over and find ways to intervene. You're not going to do it by tackling the murderers though, you're an elderly priest not an action hero. If you even find yourself in the same room as someone and not hidden, their masks will float off their faces ominously and you'd better get running. Instead, you'll be sneaking around, peering through keyholes, listening out for conversations through walls and doing your best to avert disaster from behind the scenes.

Each guest requires more complex solutions to save them but the game is careful to restrict the rooms needed for each problem rather than needing you to be running around the whole building. Each room feels like you're peering into an elaborately modelled doll house with almost chibi-esque characters. Although despite this fairly simple look the game can suffer from some loading issues, particularly in handheld mode. Fortunately, the game isn't reliant on reflex-based gameplay so it isn't wholly detrimental to the experience.

It's very enjoyable to discover new rooms and the characters going through their motions within. Finding the source of the sounds you've heard in the distance and their place within the fates involved can point you towards your next solution. The game provides a generous amount of information in its pause screen to assist you in working out who's where and when, along with showing you the new powers you gain from the masks you collect after saving people.

The Sexy Brutale feels a lot more like a point and click adventure than it feels like Majora's Mask. Taking items from location to location and paying attention to the paths and routines of the victims and their murderers. It rewards more cautious and methodical approaches to time travel but with a comically dark sense of humour running through its polished halls.