Wales Interactive is carving itself something of a niche. Birthed from the FMV games of the early ’90s, interactive videos have escalated to the point of essentially being choose-your-own-adventure movies. The likes of She Sees Red and Late Shift have shown that high intensity drama can lend itself well to the genre, while Five Dates attempted to bring about a much more light-hearted affair. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? is yet another take on the formula, bringing a comedic touch to what has mostly been bombastic presentations.
It’s demonstrating a maturity in the audience. While gangster movies and murder investigations are all well and good, they’re not for everyone. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? joins Five Dates in offering an experience that is sold to gamers as an evening to share with non-gaming friends and family. And for the most part, it works.
The story sees you taking on the role of Abby on the evening of your mother’s birthday. Every year the family comes together to play a quiz, and this year it’s being held online. However, just as you’re about to begin your estranged uncle Marcus (Andy Buckley, The Office: An American Workplace) calls, informing you he’s been poisoned. He only has hours to live, and he suspects it’s someone in the family who poisoned him. You are now charged with investigating the crime. The trouble is, everyone is suspicious.
There are six suspects in total. Each of them is awful in their own way. The character depth is definitely not a selling point. However, there’s a reason for this. The characters are essentially stereotypes because they are simply faces dressed over a Cluedo playing piece. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? is essentially a whodunnit. As such, their likes and dislikes, needs and wants are irrelevant. The fact that they are immediately recognisable as their respective stereotypes means the player begins with a better idea of how they might react to your responses then were they deep, insightful human beings that you would have to spend more than the two minutes on offer learning about.
Once you have been given your mission the game progresses through scripted sequences that alter based on your interactions. This includes not only how you respond, but the order in which you make your responses. You’ll build up a catalogue of evidence (which remains through multiple playthroughs) eventually leading you to the killer. It’s really that simple. However, it is thoroughly enjoyable to do.
The game lasts around 90 minutes on the first playthrough, making it perfect for an evening’s entertainment with friends. You’ll want to play through once, curiously playing through every beat the game throws at you. The likelihood of accusing the correct person at the end of one game is very small however, and so a second or even third playthrough may be necessary to obtain all the relevant evidence. However, on these subsequent playthroughs it’s possible to skip the sequences you’ve already successfully completed, dwindling down the playtime in a manner perfect for Achievement hunters.
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? does justice to the genre it’s attempting to expand upon. It’s never going to drag you away from Elden Ring or Horizon Forbidden West, but if you’re interested in getting a wider picture of what modern gaming is about you should certainly give it a look. Fans of the FMV game genre will not be disappointed, and those looking to mix up game night with family or friends could certainly do far worse. After all, we all like Cluedo, right?