London Calling to the Imitation Zone
The year was 2013. BBC’s Sherlock was waiting for a highly anticipated third season, CBS’s Elementary had premiered its second season, yet another iteration of Lupin III had just premiered the year before and the 125th anniversary of the Jack the Ripper murders. Meanwhile, in Japan, a Victorian-era visual novel called London Detective Mysteria sees release.
London Detective Mysteria is the story of high-born Emily Whiteley and her posse of derivative Victorian-era detectives and villains. There’s Herlock Holmes and William Watson, sons to the famous mystery-solving duo, Jane Marple the granddaughter of Ms. Marple and Jack Millers aka Jack the Ripper. On the lesser-known side, there is Lupine, son of famous gentleman thief Arsene Lupin, Akechi and Kobayashi, the progeny of Edogawa’s famous detectives, and Moriarty, Colonel Moran and Queen Victoria, to round out the cast for good measure. One of the few non-derivative characters, other than the heroine, is her long-suffering and almost super-human butler Pendleton.
Twelve Little Englishmen | A Cast of Characters
Like any otome game, LDM follows the story of Emily as she becomes one of the Queen’s detectives, enrolls at a special academy for teenage detectives and seeks to find the love of her life from five set choices. Oh yeah, and she tries to find out who viciously murdered her parents when she was just a child. While this sounds like it sets up an interesting mystery, it’s actually where the game falls short. Emily’s story is very centric to whoever ends up becoming her love interest, and her personality changes in turn. While the romances are cute, there’s nothing particularly novel about any of them, unless you have a gentleman thief or serial killer fetish. The game, however, does force you to play through all of the different paths before it finally unveils the grand solution to the mystery in order to give Emily some closure.
The mini-mysteries scattered through the story aren’t particularly hard to figure out. It feels like Emily only occasionally tests her logic and observational prowess. To the translator’s credit, they do try and keep a very Victorian atmosphere in all the text and dialogue, which leads to some hilarious lines, particularly from Watson, and were the chief enjoyment factor of these smaller cases. Pendleton and his sly observations on Emily and her developing relationships were also a joy to watch, and he was one of the wittiest characters by far.
A Study in Stereotypes | Character Flaws in London Detective Mysteria
While the characters are all enjoyable in their own way, they all fall hard into certain stereotypes, and many of them draw too much from their fictional forefathers. Holmes, in particular, suffers from this. Others, like Lupine, only get more depth in service of better fitting a certain character type. Be it bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, mysterious foreigner or snarky best friend, you'll find it here. Even Pendleton, being an original character, is mainly there to act as Super Butler, fighting, shooting and making a delicious cup of tea at the end of every day. If you’re there just to see cute bishie boys, it works great. If you’ve started this game looking for a real story or mystery, you’ll walk away disappointed.
The game’s controls are standard for visual novels, just point and click, and for those still unsure, there is an optional tutorial/prologue section at the beginning to play through. There are also optional voiceovers, which are unfortunately in Japanese only. I found the voices a nice addition, but it’s hard to judge the acting when you don’t know what part of their dialogue they’re saying at any given time. However, for those fluent, the game does provide the option to run with the original Japanese text.
London Detective Mysteria Review | This Woman is Mine
As typical for otome games, there's some lovely art and music. The boys are all cute, the girls are adorable, and there’s plenty of well-illustrated romantic stop-scenes for you to take a minute and drool over. The game’s soundtrack also has a nice ring to it. Many of the background tracks are soothing and a joy to listen to.
If you’re looking for some generic cute boys to swoon over, or if you have a thing for Victorian fiction, you’ll enjoy London Detective Mysteria. However, for those who are looking for something a bit heavier on the mystery side of the spectrum, you’d be better off playing 999 or a host of other visual novels. While it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, London Detective Mysteria is a pleasant journey to play.
TechRaptor reviewed London Detective Mysteria on PC on Steam with a key provided by the publisher. It is also available for PlayStation Vita.
- Beautiful Artwork
- Interesting Overarching Mystery
- Relies Too Much On Source Material
- Not Enough Focus On Mystery
- Tired Character Archetypes