This is the Zodiac Speaking is a narrative based detective style game where you play as an investigative journalist trying to solve the mystery of the Zodiac killer. It’s going to be released on September 24th 2020 and it’s being published by Klabater, a studio who’s helped publish games like “Help Will Come Tomorrow” and “We. The Revolution”. The demo build that’s out currently contains 3 main sections of the full game.
The game starts off in a car ride following the main character, Robert Hartnell as he stops by a payphone and receives an ominous call from the Zodiac Killer about one of his crimes that Robert is gonna have to stop before it’s too late. His mission is to finally confront and find out who the Zodiac Killer is, while saving the lives of his future victims.
As far as the graphics go, this demo really showcases the game’s artstyle very well. The setting of 1970s California is very well translated into the visuals that feel very Noir and stylized. The Unity engine is actually used really well in this demo and even though some of the models are unfinished (as the game is still in alpha) the graphics overall don’t look bad at all in comparison to other games made with Unity. As for the animations there aren’t really any major problems with them and they look fine most of the time. The only issues I encountered with the game’s presentation were some clipped in models or textures, but I’m sure they could easily be fixed in a later version or patch.
This demo build features 2 main game modes: “Normal mode” and “Story mode” which are basically the same except for the fact that the Story mode doesn’t feature some stealth sections with the Zodiac killer to make it more immersive and a little more similar to the real world events. This is the Zodiac speaking is played out in the first person perspective and it features different mechanics from a mix of different genres. First of all there’s the obvious detective based gameplay, where you get clues to try and solve the puzzle and figure out the identity of the Zodiac killer. These can come as different notes or objects found around the environment that in one way or another relate back to the Zodiac and his actions. In the game’s “Normal mode” there’s also some stealth sections that feature the mechanics you would expect from a stealth game, like crouching and sneaking past the Zodiac. The problem with them is that at this early stage they feel quite clunky. The game is at its best when you have to piece everything together and try to figure out what happened in a certain case scenario. To keep all of the hints and items in check you use your Diary that helps track everything you have as well as get the facts and past events in chronological order. As I stated at the start this demo features 3 main sections, these being: the prologue where you get introduced to all the basic mechanics and the Zodiac as a character; a section where you meet up with your therapist which is part of a later chapter and a 3rd sequence where you have to piece out everything that happened with the Zodiac on a particular scene and how he escaped the police. One of the aspects I loved the most about This is the Zodiac Speaking was that it also featured facts from the real life events tied to the Zodiac murders. The Zodiac’s design also takes heavy inspiration from his real life counterpart.
This demo build runs at about 30 minutes in total, and I would recommend going through it in the “Normal mode” as that’s where you get the interactions with Zodiac and the gameplay feels way more thriller/horror esque as you try to scramble through your items to unlock a locked door while hiding from the killer that’s chasing you down. There’s no real replayability to speak of except for the alternate mode, but as I said they’re basically the same so It’s not worth replaying them again.
Sound design is great, the soundtrack has a really Hollywood movie like aesthetic to it. The sound effects are also great in most cases, as you can often hear the Zodiac running around when he gets close to you. The only problem that I had with it is that the main characters dialogue (or rather monologue in this case) is often quite loud on the default setting, but you can easily turn the volume down to your liking.
As for accessibility I don’t think many people would find this game difficult at all to get into. There’s of course some encounters that result in a game over but the game’s “Story mode” completely avoids them so there’s nothing to worry about if you’re new to stealth games. Controls are also responsive and I didn’t find myself struggling with them.
In conclusion, I think this game is unique at the story it’s trying to tell and not so much at the mechanics it has to show, but it’s still quite an interesting one nonetheless and the demo build that’s out right now gives you quite a good glimpse into that.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This is the Zodiac Speaking Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 4/10
User Review( votes)
Try to figure out who the Zodiac Killer is in this Thriller Detective FPP mystery game set in 1970s California!