I am a huge fan of detective/investigative games like the Ace Attorney series and the Hotel Dusk series, they’re the games that sparked my love of visual novels in the first place. With their immersive stories and intriguing mysteries there’s always something new to discover. So, when indie developer Studio Attic Salt emailed me about their supernatural detective mystery visual novel, Misadventures of Laura Silver, I made sure to add the game to the top of my play list!
Set in 1935, Misadventures of Laura Silver follows paranormal detective Laura Silver and her assistant Orewell Cooper as they traverse the globe on a quest to catalog the mythical creatures they encounter. Along the way they come across a series of unexpected events that have them questioning the intentions of their bureau as they find themselves drawn into a web of murder, lies, and corruption.
Currently, Laura and Cooper are on assignment in Czechoslovakia, in search the Vodnik, a sea beast that has been terrorizing one of the local towns. But, when the agent already on site is found murdered in his hotel room, Laura must determine whether his death was the work of the supernatural or something much more sinister.
Misadventures of Laura Silver is an episodic visual novel, however, as of this writing only Chapter I is available (Chapter II is scheduled for a Summer 2020 release). Chapter one is a bit on the short side with roughly 8-10 hours of gameplay, but with over 100 choices for players to make in addition to the interactive investigative gameplay features, there’s plenty of content to explore in Misadventures of Laura Silver.
Chapter I serves as an introduction to the world of Misadventures of Laura Silver, we meet Laura and Cooper, and a handful of the supporting characters. As a whole, this chapter in the Laura Silver series is pretty self contained, Laura’s case is wrapped up by the end of the episode. Laura and Cooper are sent to Czechoslovakia by their bureau to investigate sightings of a Vodnik (a water spirit from Slavic mythology), it follows them to a local hotel where another agent is also monitoring the situation. On their first night at the hotel, the agent is found dead in his bathtub, and believed to be yet another victim of the Vodnik. However, there are some inconsistencies with the crime scene and Laura performs an independent investigation into the murder, searching the hotel for clues and interrogating the staff. The game plays like any other investigative visual novel, with Q&As with witnesses/suspects and searching through rooms and crime scenes for hints and clues about the murder.
In fact, the supernatural aspects of the game take a bit of a backseat for most of the episode, since we spend more time interacting with the human staff of the hotel, Silver, and her team. I went in expecting something more like Supernatural, but what I got was a bit more Murder She Wrote and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, this is just the first chapter, so I expect the later chapters will delve more into the supernatural hijinks. There were a few hints at a much larger story/mystery, with each of Laura’s “cases” being linked to an as of yet unseen Wishmaker character that seemingly has some connection with the head of the paranormal bureau and Laura. But, it’s still early to make any concrete speculations about any of this…
Misadventures of Laura Silver does have some interesting characters, that I think a lot of players will like. Laura is very much a world weary (and a smidge jaded) occult detective, she’s good at what she does, but a bit difficult to work with. She’s the kind of person that shoots first and asks questions later. Her hapless sidekick, Cooper is well meaning and personable, but just a tiny bit clueless when it comes to the supernatural world. Like I mentioned there are quite a few supporting characters, each with their own quirky personalities, though I will say my favorite is Uri, the 10 year old who claims to be the “King of Hanover”. I love how snarky he is with Cooper and Laura, he is definitely the ultimate shade king!
Now, the thing that really stands out about the game is its rather distinctive art style. Western visual novels are known for straying away from the more traditional anime inspired art style, but even still Misadventures of Laura Silver really does have a style all its own. There’s a very vintage feel to the designs that I really dig, especially the large expressive eyes, it really fits in with the 1930’s setting. I also want to note that the sprites are animated, there are the standard eye blinks and mouth movements, but Studio Attic Salt goes beyond that, for scenes where the characters are driving, the characters move and sway with the movements of the car (and their arms move as they steer). It really goes a long way towards bringing the characters and the world of the game to life and is a nice reprieve from the usual static images of most visual novels.
Despite it’s rather short run time, Misadventures of Laura Silver packs in a lot of content, there are a lot of choices in this game the devs weren’t kidding when they said there are over 100 choices. This gives the player a lot more agency in the flow of the story than in most visual novels, which really gives the sense that you are a part of the events unfolding on the screen. Misadventures of Laura Silver is one of the more interactive VNs I have played in a long time, between the dialogue choices, the character interrogations, the mini games, the point and click room searches, and the drag and drop crime reenactment scenarios there is a lot to do in the game.
Overall, I really enjoyed Misadventures of Laura Silver, for their first foray into the world of game development Studio Attic Salt delivered a pretty solid detective visual novel. As someone that is used to more demure heroines, Laura Silver is a protagonist I can stand behind! Strong willed and not one to mince words, Laura is definitely someone you’ll want on your side when tracking down the occult.
Since this is just the first chapter, there are some loose ends that aren’t tied up by the end of the game, but, Misadventures of Laura Silver has a lot of great potential for future installments. I want to thank Studio Attic Salt for providing me with a review copy of the game, you guys are truly awesome!
Definitely take the time to check out their social media pages and websites and let Studio Attic Salt know what you think about the game!
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