‘Death Trick: Double Blind’ Review: Double The Protagonists, Double The Fun

Enter Morgan’s Travelling Circus, the greatest show in America! Or it was, until its star magician Hattie disappeared. In this non-linear detective visual novel, unravel the mystery from two different perspectives as you learn the stories of an entire circus of performers, each with their own stories and secrets to hide.

Developed by: Misty Mountain Studio

Played on: Steam

Length: 5-7 hours

Two is always better than one

If you’re on the hunt for a good mystery, Death Trick: Double Blind serves it up on a whimsical platter. Set in the golden days of the travelling circus smack in the mid 20s, you play as two protagonists trying to solve a murder-mystery from two perspectives. Jackie is The Magician, a former colleague of the victim, and Jones is The Detective, a private detective dealing with an unfortunate case of amnesia.

Each character has a unique set of skills and attributes that are baked into its colourful circus setting. As a magician and cast member, Jackie is able to access different areas of the circus and connect with the other circus performers on a deeper level. On the other hand, as the hired detective, Jones has access to documents that further the official investigation although it might be harder for him to earn the performers’ trust.

The clincher is neither character can interact or trade information with each other throughout the entire game. As the player, this means having to balance two separate narratives and two sets of evidence all at once. Just because one character has discovered new information, doesn’t mean that the other character can use it as evidence; all of which adds a really satisfying level of complexity and challenge to the base gameplay.

Watch out — the clock is ticking

As a visual novel, the main gameplay in Death Trick: Double Blind is talking to people and asking the right questions. The game does provide you with a list of quests to guide your investigation, but it doesn’t hold your hand more than necessary. It’s largely up to the player to choose conversation topics thoughtfully, explore environments thoroughly, and sometimes employ a little luck — and you might unlock new information in unlikely places.

All the while, each choice spends an Action Point (AP) which ends the round once it hits zero. With a limited number of rounds to solve the mystery, the stakes are constantly present as each action brings you closer to your ultimate deadline. Not to mention, certain NPCs might not be accessible during certain rounds as they are constantly moving around the map.

If you don’t gather enough evidence by the end of all your rounds, you can definitely lose the game and be forced to load a previous save. (Don’t ask us how we know this.) Thankfully, the game provides a few features to help you avoid that fate as much as possible.

Albeit simple in execution, I enjoyed the upgrade system that allows you to exchange EXP for AP, allowing you to take more actions late game. The game also hints whenever there’s a contradiction in evidence, although you can turn this feature off for a more challenging experience. Most importantly, it doesn’t cost any AP when a character has nothing much to say or you get a contradiction wrong; so you don’t have to worry about wasting your AP on a one sentence answer.

A magician never reveals her secrets

Death Trick: Double Blind already begins with an intriguing premise, but the curtains get pulled back on a deeply complex and intricate web of lies that pull you in directions you never see coming. If you’re a fan of Ace Attorney or Danganronpa, you’ll love unravelling this game thread by thread with many satisfying “aha!” moments along the way.

The game does an excellent job of withholding information from the player, so much so that there are twists and turns in store even until its final moments. Its non-linear storytelling lends a charming unpredictability and immense replayability to the game, so no two playthroughs will ever be alike. From our experience, you can gather evidence in almost any order and there are several ways to obtain the same piece of evidence, depending on who you speak to and what questions you ask.

The game’s endearing and diverse cast of characters is definitely one of its strongest suits, combined with gorgeous pulp art visuals that bring the circus to life. Although you might only take one playthrough to solve the main mystery, it’s hard not to jump back into the game to discover all the optional backstories and cutscenes linked to each side character.

Final Thoughts

Death Trick: Double Blind feels like the indie love child of Ace Attorney and Danganronpa set in a whimsical circus in the mid 20s. Its interesting dual protagonist approach gives us enough reason to pick up the game, but its endearing characters and intricate storytelling full of twists and turns makes us glad that we spent the time. We’d highly recommend this 5-7 hour experience for anyone who loves a good mystery or visual novel.

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