Parents' Guide to

Chinatown Detective Agency

By Dwayne Jenkins, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

A cybernoir detective game has never been more unfulfilling.

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A game occasionally comes along with amazing ideas, trying to carve out a niche for itself while offering potentially new, exciting gameplay opportunities. Chinatown Detective Agency, ironically themed around humanity's arrogance and inevitable downfall as a result, stands out for all the wrong reasons. Clearly taking inspiration from the Carmen Sandiego edutainment (media designed to both explicitly entertain and educate) games of the ‘80s and ‘90s, Chinatown Detective Agency thinks highly of itself, with its main gimmick centered around using your own means of research to solve its mysteries. This means players will be required to have the Internet available to hunt for clues -- with the thrills of busting criminals taking a noticeable backseat. This is less about being a detective and more about being a historian, and it's difficult to see those who don't have a specific interest in history or art being satisfied with this game. You'll spend at least half of your time glued to your phone (or computer), trying to decode something that's either needlessly frustrating or insultingly simple. The reasons why the world has fallen so far is hidden within walls of optional text and the main characters feel detached without any growth or development, making it hard to care about what's going on by the climax of the game.

Perhaps the uneven puzzles and thin characters and plot could be forgiven if there also wasn't a laundry list of bugs and glitches attached as well. The game abandons voiced narration where it would've mattered the most. Sentences are missing words, while mission objectives blend together, confusing player progress and occasionally creating new bugs that launch players into the final case of the game. Chinatown Detective Agency is doing everything it can to be the next big Carmen Sandiego-type phenomenon, but it gets in its own way time and again. Players may find themselves permanently choosing to play with their phones or laptops instead.

Game Details

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