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  • JEStaff
  • 09/23/2014 10:19 PM
Happy Birthday is a fun, moving, and a bit disturbing, mystery game where you have to solve the case of the murder of little Anna, a ten years old killed during her birthday, discover who was the culprit and the motive behind it.

The gameplay really fits the detective theme making it feels like a classic mystery story. In the beginning you may find the abundance of clues and dialogue a bit confusing, but the investigation gameplay is easily understandable and you’ll soon be used to the system. Besides the game is rather easy, actually, you can’t lose, because: first, because you can’t die, (the game gives a good explanation for this), so there’s no game over, and second, the game forces you to take the right decision, if you are wrong on when selecting an option the game prompts you to try again until you choose the right answer, for the player this means you can keep doing a trial-and-error method as long as necessary. The game’s length is between 90 and 120 minutes and its fine considering the type of gameplay and the story, it could have been longer or less repetitive.

Graphics & Art
The atmosphere really fits a classic detective drama through a nice use of lighthing colors and sprites, they’re not impressive, but well used enough to fulfill their purpose. However the design of the house is probably the weakest point of the game, for example in the second floor the room windows are looking to the next room instead of outside the mansion, and there open bottles and papers lying all around the house.

Music & Sound
The music itself is good, and it has a good selection for some parts of the game, but I found some tracks too upbeat for some of the darker parts in the story (even if they went along fine with the gameplay), the sound by the way it’s perfect for a normal detective story with some P.I. solving a crime although falls a bit short compared with the music, the Title theme, and the background music of the first chapter are the best for the overall atmosphere of the game

The scene of the crime

Storyline & Characters (from this point on expect spoilers)
The story is engaging, with very good pacing and well written enough to grab you for its nearly 90 minutes of gameplay, this game has one of the best casts among the games I’ve downloaded from this site, Even if the most detailed characters are, obviously, the detective and the murderer, the rest are also fleshed enough to have a recognizable personality, making you either love or hate any of them.
I thought the mystery was easier to guess than the final plot twist, even if the game gives clear hints to both, by giving the right clues, the games helps you a lot to discover the culprit, for example the with the lack of names for the characters (I’m surprised by the fact only a couple of them have names, and the main character never asked for theirs, because it sounds like the first thing any investigator does). However my biggest complaint was the last clue,
the inheritance felt a bit cheap, especially after you discover real motive for the murder, on the other hand the deed is punishing the older sister for failing at school, but at the same time left something for the uncle and the maid, who were described, by both the web site and the game, to be even more unreliable and lazy than her.

About the endings I don’t think that more endings were necessary; maybe they’re a bit short, and some sort of epilogue might have been a good addition, but the choices given to the player were the most consistent with the development of story and the also with the identities of the killer and the detective, maybe this game should have been improved with some of those extended game-over Bad endings, to give a sense of failure to the player.

Nevertheless the game is an overall winner especially with its mix of very good plot and first-rate gameplay that will have you engrossed for nearly two short but very intense hours.