Gamedec is a game that instantly captured me. Its world is interesting, its premise unique - it immediately gets a lot of things right. It's one of those games that you don't just love in spite of its flaws - you partially love it because of them. Gamedec feels so excited to tell you what it has going on that you can excuse it tripping over its own feet to get to you.
Let's start with that premise, shall we? Gamedec has you take on the role of a game detective who must enter online video games to pick up clues, solve issues and work as a private detective for anyone who hires you. This premise is excellent. Meta analyzing you as a player whilst providing enough worlds to keep you busy is a great elevator pitch.
For the most part, it succeeds on both fronts. Occasionally, its analysis can get a little bogged down in itself and it falls on a few hurdles but it manages to pick it up by the end. The same can be said for the game's worlds. They are intriguing in their own right but oftentimes, the way you get to each world and the way it tells its story can feel a little contrived - a little too easy. The game theming relieves this a little but it could possibly tie that together in a much more satisfying way.
Starting off in the world of Twisted and Perverted, you have to hunt down the son of a wealthy business owner. He went missing somewhere days ago and hasn't come back. Twisted and Perverted is a world designed for letting players have sex and take drugs, all with a punk veneer - it is the underbelly of a Cyberpunk world. This was, unfortunately, the world our previewer found themselves in last year and it left a poor taste in their mouth.
I'm happy to say this works much better as a sum of its parts. As the opening to Gamedec, you are intentionally pushed into a world designed to make you feel uncomfortable. It works as a sort of litmus test for what you're willing to do in the game to get the desired outcome - it's a test of you. This is the only real world with this feeling, as they come distinct and different, all with characters roleplaying the central theme. I won't complain about Harvest Time having corny approximations of cowboys so I can't complain about Twisted and Perverted feeling like the mind of a GTA-riddled teenager. It emphasizes a point that Gamedec is consistently making - the anonymity of the internet can allow people to do things their sense of morality might not allow otherwise.
This naturally moves us onto how the game handles its upgrade systems and combat. Taking a page (or maybe a chapter) out of Disco Elysium's book, there isn't combat in the traditional sense in Gamedec. You can hurt people but it's a decision you make in-game, much like renegade options in Mass Effect. Sometimes you get given that option to shoot and it's rather hard to not click on it just to see if it will let you. For the most part, there are very few trivial options in Gamedec, making your decisions feel important and real.
Like Disco Elysium, this is a game that is much better if you allow your bad choices to happen. This is where the upgrade system comes in. As you make decisions, the game makes up this strange personality test of your greatest characteristics. If you act with empathy, the skill associated with that will level up. Same with impatience, logic, and tonnes of other small stats. I really like this system but upgrades require options from a diverse range of stats, meaning you can never fully commit to a style without losing out. Instead of going with my gut, I often found myself picking options to upgrade the right path or get the right skill.
This being said, the world of Gamedec is so engrossing that I often found it hard to care about those nitpicks. The world is serious but also quite fun, having you explore glitches in the system and use video game logic to solve some odd riddles. This is all topped off with a solid deduction system. As you figure out clues and piece together information, you can make a hypothesis on what you think is happening, which will then affect your dialogue choices. It's rarely as simple as just pointing the finger at someone - you have to do the groundwork for the game to even let you start that. If you think the dead body is the result of murder, you make that deduction and then operate on that assumption.
This then shapes your conversations and presence in each game. There are so many tiny facets to each case and, even now, I don't fully know if I've been lied to or I actually figured everything out. This is where a lot of the charm of Gamedec comes in. I finished my first playthrough, then immediately booted it up again to have a look around. I just wanted to go back and test all my biases one more time.
This is an odd feeling for me as the game itself had a lot of technical issues. Glitches changed the game language, crashed my game entirely, and made odd things happen. Sometimes, characters would get stuck in a loop and I couldn't do anything except restart. One line of questioning crashed every time so I never got to figure out what would happen. Despite this, I didn't feel much anger having to boot it up again. I was so willing to get sucked back up into Gamedec that I didn't care much at all.
Gamedec / Final Thoughts
Gamedec is a game I loved way more than I liked at any one point I was playing. Despite its glitches, odd story pacing, and crashes, I adored what the team did with it. They delivered a concise and interesting story with plenty of branching paths and enough flexibility to make your own playthrough feel truly unique. Sometimes the way they got to mysteries felt a little contrived but the payoff is always worth it. This is a game that will stick with me for some time and I never really minded repeating when the game froze - it just gave me a chance to explore something new.
TechRaptor played Gamedec on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The game will be available on Nintendo Switch in the future.
- Great Premise
- Genuinely Engrossing Story
- Decisions That Feel Impactful
- Technical Issues
- Some Inconsistent Pacing