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Be Anyone and Everyone in The Shapeshifting Detective

by Jacob Bukacek

Could full motion video be making a comeback?

There was a brief period in the mid-90’s where FMV (full motion video) games looked like the next big thing in gaming tech. Taking their cues from the likes of Dragon’s Lair, FMV games like Night Trap and Road Avenger used live action video or pre-rendered animation to offer players visuals that couldn’t be matched by other games at the time. However, pretty graphics are all they could really offer since their reliance on video severely limited the actual gameplay.

As soon as the N64 and original PlayStation came out and defined what a next generation game actually looked like, FMV games took their place in gaming history as another failed technology. That said, such games still have a certain charm to them that makes new entries into the genre such as The Shapeshifting Detective, an interesting prospect.

The Shapeshifting Detective has players take on the guise of an unnamed shapeshifter tasked with solving a string of murders involving a trio of tarot readers. They’ve displayed an uncanny ability to predict murders, so naturally one would think they could be involved somehow. Discovering the truth isn’t going to be easy though, as most people tend to confide their secrets only to those they trust most. Getting to the bottom of this is going to require quite literally stepping into another person’s  shoes and living a day in their life.

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This is a modern entry into the aforementioned FMV genre, and The Shapeshifting Detective’s features revolve around making the most of it. The game makes use of over 1600 HD FMV videos, has an explorable world, and offers nine characters to shapeshift into. The world of the game is separated by taxi rides instead of a map screen combined with a fast travel system. These rides take a little bit of time, but each one is enhanced by “Radio August:” a collection of dark short stories written by a selection of the game’s supporters.

In addition to all this, the story branches based on the player’s decisions, and the murderer changes each time in order to keep the mystery fresh. One would think a shapeshifting detective would always be able to get to the bottom of a case quite quickly, but it seems things won’t go quite so smoothly with this case.

Interested players can check the game out when it launches for PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One on November 6.

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