Cause of Death FREE: Can You Catch the Killer?
By Electronic Arts
Episode 1: Tough Love
Cause of Death is an interactive novel, or digital choose-your-own-adventure story. I’ve played some others in the app store, but this is by far one of my favorites. It’s not often you get to delve into the mind of someone like the Maskmaker.
This is more of a digital book than a game. If you don’t like reading, this isn’t the app for you. But if you’re a fan of those old choose-your-own-adventure books and murder mysteries, chances are you’ll like Cause of Death. The game mechanics are simple. Text bubbles appear on the screen and you tap anywhere to see the next one. Sometimes you’re given choices, often with a timer, and you need to pick one. Some choices are better than others, which will earn you detective points. The more detective points, the higher your rank, and the better chance of your survival. If you make too many bad choices, you might end up getting yourself or your partner killed. At the completion of each chapter, you’re given the option to play it over to try and improve your score. But if you’re eager to continue moving forward, you can always play the game over later and see it play out differently.
The story is where this game shines. Without it, there wouldn’t be much of a game at all. You switch roles constantly, which allows you to play detectives, victims, and even the murderer sometimes. The characters all have unique personalities and histories that make them complex and worth reading about. The shocking beginning — that puts you in the role of one of the victims — had me instantly hooked. I got goosebumps, because I didn’t expect it the least bit. It’s rare to find a game willing to push the comfort level of the players to that extreme. I couldn’t stop reading until I completed the full free story, the Maskmaker. I still want more, so I may give in and purchase more stories. They make it hard to resist!
While the background images suffer a bit from lack of retina optimization, they’re still drawn well and capture the the mood of the story. The killer’s lair is dark and disturbing, filled with menacing items. The character profiles all look great. The game feels a lot like a graphic novel, in which you get to step into the shoes of a full cast of characters. The Maskmaker is a simply-drawn, but sufficiently creepy masked villain you might just see in your dreams later. Overall, the graphics are vivid and easy on the eyes.
I found the music irritating after only a few minutes, so I shut it. Others may like it, but I found it too distracting. However, the sound effects work well to pull you into the game. I recommend keeping the music off (or low) but the sound effects up. You can also listen to your own music through the app. The game gives you plenty of choices, which is great. Many games force you to control the sound effects and music as one, so I appreciate when a game like this gives so many options.
Replay Value 4.5/5
There are so many choices you can make in this game, and it is definitely worth going back to try out different answers to see the alternate paths that open up. You also win detective points for making the best choices. If you get enough points to rank as detective, you get to see bonus scenes. There is a lot of content in the free story, but you can always purchase more using IAPs if you can’t get enough of it.
If you don’t mind a lot of reading, you should definitely give this game a try. It’s free to download and you get a lot of content with it. The story is creepy and satisfying, with enough twists to keep you guessing till the end. If you’re a fan of horror or suspense stories, you won’t want to miss this one. But you might not want to play right before bed if you’re inclined to get nightmares!
If you liked The Maskmaker, don’t forget to download the new Halloween Special, Dead Man Walking Part 1 for more scary adventures with Mal and Natara!