Point and click games are some of the oldest video games out there. Despite the tenure of the genre, we don’t see too many of them spring up nowadays, likely because we’ve moved past them in the medium. Technology lets us do a lot more with games, so the archaic ways of the past usually stay in the past. Once in a blue moon a fun point and click games does arise from the proverbial ashes to make me wonder why it ever went away in the first place. Enter Guilty Party (sometimes referred to as Disney’s Guilty Party), a point and click crime drama following a very socially inclusive family trying to get to the bottom of a heinous household mystery. If you are a Wii U gamer looking for sleeper hits or unknown greats for the Wii, I would easily consider this game a “Hidden Gem” that is well worth your time!
This is a game designed for kids, so you won’t be finding any murder plots or serial killers at the end of the game. What you will find are delightfully entertaining characters, surprisingly bright and vivid visuals, and a minigames that are fun to play and coherent to the plot (albeit loosely).
As a part of the Dickens family, known for their lineage of fine detectives, you are vying for the honor of replacing the Commodore as the head investigator of the Dickens Detective Agency. While you’re all gathered to see whom the Commodore has chosen to take over the family business, his wife is strangely and suddenly kidnapped before your very eyes! Rather than determine himself who should take over, the Commodore decides whoever can bring back his wife and solve this mystery will be the new head of the Agency. It’s a lighthearted story, but it fits the tone of gameplay and the intended audience.
As you search for clues in a variety of locales, one thing becomes clear: everyone affiliated with this family is suspicious. The butler has a motive to want the kidnap the mistress, but then again so does the groundkeeper, or the chef, or even the rock metal band guitarist, if you can believe it. Normally I wouldn’t bring something specific to the story up if it wasn’t for the superb voice acting in the game. Each character has an often-times hilarious voice track to accompany their dialogue. Quirky characters have equally odd accents. It’s great, and adds a lot to the story.
When it comes down to it, Guilty Party is a collection of motion-based minigames. As you move around each area you’ll encounter different characters that have a clue to give you, but only after passing their test. Sometimes you have to bribe them by placing cash in their hands, other times you might have to pound your fists together in a threatening manner, and every now and then you have to keep your line of sight right on their eyes. No matter what you’re doing it’s always silly because the characters your interrogating always make the most ridiculous noises as you’re playing with them. It’s hilarious! Characters will shriek when you take apart their obvious disguise. Others will literally say “blah blah blah” as word bubbles pop out of their mouths that you have to catch. Guilty Party keeps the drama light but layers on the humor, and it’s all the better for it.
The party is best played with friends, though solo mode is available. Going across the game’s eight story missions with up to three pals is fun, because you can pull your resources to better take care of each scenarios objectives. Outside of that, simply having more turns to beat the game, and more minds to narrow down each suspect, is also helpful. I found Guilty Party to be one of the only party games I’ve played on the Wii that actually kept me entranced during another player’s turn: I was really into the mystery and needed to know all the clues they were finding out in order to play better when my next turn rolled around. Not only that, it was fun simply watching my friends play some of the other minigames, and we all caught ourselves several times rolling with laughter after each game. Another cool bonus for multiplayer is the addition of multiplayer-specific games. These include instances where you all have to work together to restore power to your location. For example, one player will hold a flashlight to illuminate the area so another player can find the correct fuses to put into a slot, while the other players screw in the fuses to restore power. Games like this incorporated teamwork, which was a great diversion from the main game, and always came as a kind of fun reward in the middle of each mission.
I’ve already mentioned the game’s use of voice acting and that it makes the game more enjoyable (another reason every game should have proper voice acting). The music also goes a long way in Guilty Party. Every stage has a subtle tune playing in the background, befitting of the mystery mood at hand. When you finally uncover the culprit in each stage the music intensifies. Overall it’s what you’d expect from a game shrouded in shadows. But where the soundtrack really takes off is the main theme. It’s so damn catch my friends and I were singing it constantly. I even found myself humming it at work!
Now that your life has never been better, let’s continue.
The game takes around 10 hours to complete, depending on how fast you are at each minigame. With the eight included episodes it may seem short, but after you complete a stage in the main story mode you can replay it at any time with randomized suspects, item locations, and objectives, giving the game plenty of replay value. Three levels of difficulty let you really test your skills at the minigames. You might think you can jump into the hardest, super sleuth, difficulty right away, but you’d be sorely mistaken. In-game achievements are also available, though you pretty much unlock them just by beating the game once. Guilty Party is a cooperative multiplayer game, which there aren’t too many of on the system.
When browsing the internet for “Hidden Gems” on the Wii and really any game console, it’s not often I actually find a game I too would say falls into said category. A lot of times people point out Hidden Gems they reference games that are massively available, but you may not have played (Boom Blox, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, for example). I only found Guilty Party on one such list, and I have to say it truly is worth your time and money. The pacing, the lighthearted storytelling, the funny character, the cooperative gameplay, the fun I had with my buds, and the high production values make Guilty Party one of the best, most under appreciated games on the Wii.
*If you’re still listening to the music, you can continue re-reading this review as long as you’d like*