Title: Bohemian Killing
Available On: PC
Developer: The Moonwalls Studios
Publisher: IQ Publishing
Genre: First-Person Adventure
Official Site: www.bohemiankilling.com
Release Date: July 21, 2016
Where To Buy: Steam
After watching How to Get Away With Murder, I was waiting for an opportunity to put my defensive skills to the test in a courtroom. Unfortunately, I’m a twenty-three year old games journalist with no intentions of killing someone and going to trial for it. To my joy, there was a game on Steam that allowed me to commit that hypothetical murder and weasel my way out of my conviction. To my surprise, it is much more difficult than it seems.
Bohemian Killing is a first-person adventure game by The Moonwalls studios that puts the players behind the wheel of a man on trial for murder. It’s your job to narrate the events that transpired in whatever way you can to convince the judges that you’re an innocent man, or admit your guilt and claim insanity. The game gives you a number of different ways to present your case, though some may be more credible than others.
As Bohemian Killing opens, your character, Alfred Ethon, walks into a hotel room where a woman is crawling backward on the ground. You step up with your knife and kill her before the game pulls you back into the courtroom in a bohemian Paris in the 19th century where you stand on trial for this murder. A variety of evidence is presented against you, and it doesn’t look good. It’s up to you to tell your testimony and rewrite history to be in your favor, through picking up evidence, altering witness statements, and lining up the events with the evidence against you into a new perspective.
Each playthrough you do gives you a better perspective of how to best present your case. For example, my first playthrough had me feeling fairly confident: I gathered some evidence, stated my case, convinced some witnesses to help me out, and even admitted to seeing the victim and framed her as having socialist tendencies. Feeling confident with the help of my lawyer, I ended my testimony. Unfortunately, some of my statements didn’t line up with the evidence against me, and I was quickly found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. My second time around, I used this experience to start pouring through the evidence against me, exploring areas in different orders, and lining up my events with the proper timing. By convincing the court I had indeed killed her, but only in self-defense, I got my first victory: an innocent verdict.
Just to be thorough I decided on one more playthrough. This time, on a break, I read through my letters and used my gypsy connections in the city to break out of my prison cell, escaping my impending fate. It was in this precise order of events that I found the joy of this game. No matter how much evidence I piled up or how confident I felt, I always went to the verdict hearing with a sense of nerves that I had missed something or that my case wasn’t solid enough. It also challenges the player to make sure they use their time precisely to line up events according to the prosecution’s timeline or face the consequences.
The game has quite a bit of character for its fairly heavy indie feel. The setting for the game involves themes of poverty and racism over those of gypsy heritage in this time frame. This helps compound the sense of guilt and mistrust toward your character. The voice acting is fairly stellar for such a simple project, which makes your character feel like a fully intelligent inventor and citizen. The soundtrack is truly excellent and brings the 19th century feeling of the city to life. Probably the best part of the game is that it feels concise. Though it only takes about an hour or two to work through the whole story, Bohemian Killing encourages the player to work through the game a number of times to solidify their case more so each time. The load times are also incredibly fast, which helps keep transitions in your testimony feeling smooth and never detracting from the story being told.
All of this being said, the game still has some issues to it. The animations of characters, both in body and face, are fairly unnatural and strange, even if they aren’t a central part of the game itself. Also, while the soundtrack is stellar, the sound FX in the game are lackluster. The sound for opening doors seems to be directly borrowed from the old AIM login sound, which is off-putting. The glitches in the game are perhaps the most annoying issue, as my character would occasionally get lodged in between objects, forcing my to close and reopen the game to escape.
I was surprised by the game, and I say that with all notes of positivity. While it still has some of the struggles of an indie title, its strengths of character and choice outweigh its problems. While I expected to find the game interesting, I didn’t expect the thorough challenges it held and the level of detail put into the lining up of evidence. Bohemian Killing does an excellent job of making you feel in charge of your own future, so long as you put the effort forth. It’s worth picking up and playing, which is the best compliment I can give.
- Gameplay: Short, sweet, and to the point with a heavy focus on accuracy
- Graphics: So-so, not horrible but nothing lovely
- Sound: Excellent soundtrack and voice acting, poor sound fx
- Presentation: Concise and detailed, overall an interestingly fun experience
- Numerous endings
- Heavy focus on details of evidence
- Lovely soundtrack and aesthetic
- Poor sound fx
- Lackluster animations
- Occasional game halting glitches