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The steampunk detective

Similar titles

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, The Sinking City

Look

Third and first-person

Genre

Open world adventure

Why Birmingham?

Birmingham was an important cog in the industrial revolution, and ground zero for some of Britain’s biggest industries in the 19th century. But the work wasn’t easy. Soot, coal and billowing smokestacks were ever-present realities of life. The streets were raw, the people often rawer still. A steampunk game would naturally rise out of these conditions; a game with atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife.

High Concept

Birmingham is in the middle of an industrial revolution and business is booming – yet the divide between rich and poor is widening. Smokestacks billow from the industrial heart of the city while a growing, impoverished populous huddle in the slums, making do with scraps.

It’s 1898 and Harry ‘Peg Leg’ Combs is one of the rich, but his reputation is waning. Once a famous detective, known throughout Birmingham as the man with the Midas touch, Combs is struggling to solve cases faster than Edson, a young rival who uses mechanised tools to get an edge.

A chance encounter with a mysterious cloaked figure in the slums gives Combs access to a steampunk monocle with an adjustable lens. There’s something of the otherworldly about the monocle and the adjustable lens gives the old man the impetus to get back on track.

When a factory worker at a large chocolate factory in the city centre is discovered dead, and a slum boy is put on trial, Combs kicks into gear, tackling the case with his new tool in place.

But by accepting the stranger’s gift, Combs has unwittingly entered into a bind. He must appease the stranger’s request for favours should he wish to keep his third eye working. Choose not to, and his powers rapidly fade, rendering later cases harder to solve. Do you acquiesce to the stranger’s requests, even as they become more dangerous?

Tonally The Steampunk Detective is unlike most games on the market, reminiscent in many ways of the unmade Gotham by Gaslight, while its focus on clue-gathering and crime solving is broadly similar to Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments and the upcoming Sinking City.

Artwork by Dominik Zdenković