The Metroidvania genre can be quite tricky. Outlined by giant maps, which open up as new skills are unlocked, combat against enemies that can go from the most fun to the most tedious, and navigation mechanics that can also differ from the most pleasant to the most monotonous possible. The Last Case of Benedict Fox is in fact a metroidvania combined with an investigation title, with a very peculiar sense of art style, brushed by Lovecraft’s watermarks, creating a chillingly beautiful environment. Its puzzles are quite peculiar and some of them quite difficult, with side-scrolling platforming mechanics that unfortunately leave a little to be desired because of its clunky controls.
The year’s 1925, in a period marked by the world war, and Benedict prepares to investigate a case that refers to his father’s recent death, surrounded by very suspicious and out of this world circumstances. However, he’s not completely alone, as he has the company of a unique partner, a demon that inhabits his head and gives him dark powers.
The story takes place between the real world, in Benedict’s father’s mansion, and in two different limbos, one of his fathers and the other of a woman unknown to Benedict, who lived with his father. One of the main character’s powers is the ability to enter the memories of people who have already departed, in order to solve their cases. All regions of limbo create a parallelism between the different rooms of the mansion, creating a dark environment inhabited by demons that represents the torments of the victims. It is in fact a very captivating and fun environment to explore and it was undoubtedly the point that immediately caught my attention for this title, unfortunately, there are some problems. It happened a few times, I couldn’t enter certain doors because I immediately received damage from enemies that I couldn’t see because they were by the entrance of that same division. The character’s movement itself is not the most fluid and the combat is sometimes out of sync with what I wanted to do at the moment. Anyway, it didn’t stop me from finishing the story, but it did become a bit frustrating.
The combat features an interesting variety of demonic abilities that can be used, a ground pound that applies damage in the area, a double jump that allows you to reach higher locations, and even the ability to place traps on the ceiling that… I found it somehow strange since there are very few situations where the ceiling is close to the action zone, thus preventing its placement. All of these skills can be unlocked by “ink” after encounters with new enemies. However, after capturing the ink, it is necessary to deliver it to the nearest portal, or there is a risk of losing the undelivered ink if you are not victorious in the confrontation against enemies. In the individual field, Benedict has his knife and a pistol, which although they can be improved, I haven’t felt much difference, and other gadgets that helps in the most diverse occasions. These can also be improved through points acquired by exploring clues.
Another less positive note was the almost non-existence of boss fights during the adventure and part of those I faced were based on the premise of just running ahead of them.
The puzzle designs were a very interesting addition. While some don’t make much sense and are just trial and error, others are quite complex, but once you get to the conclusion there’s that feeling of satisfaction. This being a Metroidvania, some of these puzzles are inaccessible, due to lack of elements to complete them. If you want to clean every corner of Limbo, it’s imperative to continue exploring. Be prepared, of course, for the need to go through the same paths a few times. These moments that can foresee some monotony or frustration due to the fights against enemies that respawn, can somehow be circumvented by the fast travel mechanic between portals that are in specific locations. Of course, it is necessary to open these points first, after a somehow more difficult encounter with enemies.
Although it features voice acting, the overall sound is quite weak. There are few soundtrack notes, and there are times when enemy footsteps are heard but enemies are not even seen, making for a somewhat confusing experience.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox is by far not a perfect title, but it will certainly leave its mark on whoever plays it, now whether it’s positive or negative depends a bit on each case… I, for instance, had no problems with bugs that prevented me to progress into the story, but there were cases in which this happened (just check Steam Discussions). I believe that is nothing that a couple of updates can’t fix. His story managed to grab me for about 18 hours which is how long it took me to complete all of his achievements.