We are more than halfway through November and the days are getting cosier each time. And although I’m up for a mystery at any time of the year, it somehow gets extra special in the cold months. So today I want to talk about different types of mysteries on books, movies/tv series, and games. By different types I mean ways to present the story regardless who’s the murderer or how strange was the crime. So I’m not looking to original crimes for example committed by aliens or the bigfoot – strange choices – what I do care about is how the story develops to the reader/view/gamer. Also, keep in mind that I haven’t read every single mystery book or saw every mystery film/series so I might be missing some.
Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle are brilliant and timeless authors that bring unique features to the crime-solving department. Doyle introduces us one of the best detectives, Sherlock Holmes. And although the clues aren’t right in front of your face, he uses another very important aspect, deduction. I can’t get tired of the observations skills of Sherlock and neither other people, in fact, it does exist books to teach you the art of Sherlock Holmes and how to becomes a good observer as he. It’s crazy thinking how can a fictional character became such icon. Meanwhile, Agatha has a few characters, but only a couple stud out from the crowd, such as Detective Inspector Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Although my knowledge of Agatha’s books is very narrow considering the first time I read one was 2 weeks ago. Therefore, I prefer to talk about the TV adaptations.
Films and Tv Series
On the big and small screen, I have to mention again the greatest writers of all time. The adaptations made from the novels can be as great as the original. The ITV series Miss Marple is my all time favourite adaptation of Agatha’s work. The unique way how in the end they show you every clue that lead to the killer and you actually see/know the clues were shown in the episode, it’s just amazing. And the BBC Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch is my bae. Go ahead, cringe away with the word. Although you have to agree that he can do an amazing job. After him only Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock in the movie A Game of Shadows. Also, one of my favourites, highly recommend! The way a handshake can tell so much about a person is mindblowing. And for sure after watching the movie or the tv series I get in a Sherlock mode and start looking for clues and trying to do some deductions of my own. Obviously, they don’t all end as I expect.
While on the “generic” mysteries, you get to know a few clues at the same time as the characters but the last one might be kept away from the audience to increase the suspense. So even if the viewer wants to “participate” and “build the case” against a character he can’t because he doesn’t have all the details. Now, this isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just another perspective and development of the narrative. Castel, NCIS, CSI, and many others usually present the crimes this way and yet they have/had success.
Another, way to tell a crime story is by letting the viewer see more than the characters. So you will know something that can help you identify the killer or even show you the killer, while the characters have to investigate in order to discover who this person is. On Criminal Minds, they do it perfectly. Most of the time if not all the times you see the face of the killer. Although you still see the entire process and this is because the crime isn’t the main focus, the killer is. The magic behind Criminal Minds lies in the psychological analysis. Here you don’t have anything to solve, you focus on the process and the story behind the murderer. For anyone interested in the “why did he do it” it’s great.
I still remember when I was young trying to play Escape the Room kind of games. I was never good at it and one of the things that really annoyed me was not being able to interact with everything that was in front of me. For instants, if there is a frame on the wall I want to interact with it even if it hasn’t anything to do with the solution. And then, on one beautiful day, Rockstar Games announced something never done before, LA Noire. Despite the awesome 40’s vibe all around the world, it has a unique interface. The gamer has to explore the crime scene as a true investigator and also interview the witnesses. The game still gives you some hints, like if you discover all the clues or not, but you just don’t know where they are.
I only solve a couple of crimes because it’s hard, especially if you don’t solve the crime in one go. Surprisingly, interviewing the witnesses isn’t the easiest job in the world. The game was beautifully made with actors to capture all the facial expressions, and based on it, you have to tell what interaction to go for. Good cop, bad cop, blame, accuse of lying, and many more. Also, you have to use the clues in the interviews just like they do on the TV. It really is a great game. And it was just remastered for PS4 and Xbox One and it’s now available for Nintendo Switch. Another reason for me to get one for me.
Another game I have to mention is Heavy Rain. The reason is similar to LA Noire except you don’t have right or wrong answers. The gamer is limited on the movements but you gain on the interactive options on each scene. For example, for those who never played, you start the game in a lovely home and despite talking with your wife and kid you can go and open draws of the cabinets. I find this detail amazing. They could leave it aside, after all, it doesn’t help to develop the story and it takes time to program. Even though, they did it and turned the game into a completely different experience. The story itself is pretty dark. I played the whole game in 2 days and it was overwhelming. I actually never touched it ever since. I still remember very freshly the story and I don’t think I’m psychologically prepared to go in and experience everything all over again.
Men, it was good to talk about games. I really should talk about them more often. Anyway, I’m always looking for new mysteries or even revisiting old friends. If you have any recommendations leave in the comments and I’ll make sure to check out. Also if you know a mystery book, movie or game that doesn’t apply to any of what I said above, let me know, because I would like to add more to this list.