Parents' Guide to

The Detail

By David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Gritty, violent crime drama barely scratches plot surface.

Game Mac , Windows 2014
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This crime drama starts off strong and inspired, an interesting mix of interactive graphic novel and more conventional point-and-click adventure game but quickly becomes oversimplified and paper-thin. For example, although it claims to be heavily inspired by the HBO series The Wire, it doesn't seem to know how to show its deep appreciation beyond some shallow and repeated references to corruption, racism, and other systemic problems in a city. Although the stakes are high, the consequences of your actions are intended more for you to ponder after the game is done: At the end of each chapter, unsourced news clippings give you statistics about the choices you made and how they echo real-world stats about sex trafficking in the United States and central and Eastern Europe. But the characters you interact with whose lives intersect with these statistics are largely treated as footnotes on your way to get achievements and wrap up the case -- they don't linger or lend you more empathy or indulge your honest curiosity.

That means the rest of the game is a nuts-and-bolts investigation, with the standard procedures of a familiar adventure game. You poke around environments, see what you can find, and make decisions on how to proceed from there. Not that it's all bad; this can actually be pretty fun and rewarding in an adventure game setup: Midway through the first episode, you and your partner have to gain entry to a person of interest's property. You can kick his door down, illegally go through his mail, or head back and go through his trash to learn about correspondences he's had with his lawyer and then intimidate his attorney at the door. There's definitely some cleverness in this game, and the brainy portions are offset by the twitchier chase scenes and shoot-outs, but it isn't quite as smart as it thinks it is, with the thinnest lessons and explorations being given to some pretty heavy subject matter. It's worth a look, but don't expect to come away with a changed life view about crime or criminals -- which The Detail seems to be trying to help give players.

Game Details

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