One of the signs that a cult TV show has staying power is its ability to translate into other formats. Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze takes the cult TV show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mystery (which happens to be based on a series of novels) and turns it into an interactive problem solving mystery game. The results are rather charming.
For those who don’t know the show, it’s an Australian TV drama known for its attractive leads and an exotic 1920’s setting. It features Essie “Babadook” Davis as Miss Phryne Fisher, a rich debutante with a love for fine wine, jazz, dancing and exciting adventures. She’s aided in her exploits by Melbourne’s finest detective, Inspector Jack Robinson, played by the highly athletic Nathan Page. Together they fight crime. Like many cult shows, it had been cut off in its prime. Season three was only 8 episodes long, ended on a cliff-hanger and with all the actors doing other things, it doesn’t look like it’s coming back any time soon.
Except it has in the form of Tin Man Games latest product, Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze. The plot sees the surprise return of perennial villain Murdoch Foyle, a serial killer who believes that he is an Egyptian God. The main plot centres around a most Wagnerian murder. Like the show, the game begins in a charming and fun way; Jack and Phryne are enjoying a night out at the Opera on what could be described as a date (but might not be). There is, of course, a murder during this evening, and it’s up to Phryne and Jack to solve it.
The game itself is pretty much what you’d expect from a visual novel/adventure game style thing. Lots of dialogue and you click on random things to examine and investigate. They rely on three basic pillars: good art, good dialogue and good story. Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze excels with the art. Lisa Jeong’s visuals are stunning, making each encounter in the game look just Art Nouveau enough to evoke the period without being inaccessible or overly flowery. There’s a mini-game where you can find outfits for Phryne to wear, which suits the character perfectly; she is never short of a good frock.
The dialogue is strong; you can flirt with Jack as much as you want, you can tease your allies and you can come out with some witty one-liners. In other words, enact the sort of charm and daring that the show thrives on. The plot is fun but be aware that this is a visual novel; your input into the game pushes the story forward, but there’s only one story. This is not a choose your own adventure novel, it’s a straight tale that involves some simple puzzle solving of the kind you do anyway when reading a plain text murder mystery book.
Ultimately, this is the closest fans of the show will get to another season of Miss Fisher for a good long while, and its part of a planned series. It’s a good few hours worth of immersive distraction, just like the TV show. We hope to see more, and soon.
MISS FISHER AND THE DEATHLY MAZE / PUBLISHER: TIN MAN GAMES / FORMAT: APPLE IPAD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW