“Naraka was gone. No marble met my feet, no splintered branches filled with burning memories fell across my ankles.” – Roshani Chokshi
Keyword: A Spider’s Thread is a narrative-focused detective thriller in which players take on the role of Private Investigator Guo Chen. His daughter is missing and a nationwide curfew means he cannot leave his apartment. Players will have to use keen observation skills and solve challenging puzzles in order to find her.
Developer: City From Naught Inc.
Released: 28th September 2021
Available on: Steam
The multi-layered narrative centres on the protagonist Guo Chen, a talented PI whose daughter has gone missing. Due to the violence and trouble caused by a new illegal drug called Substance E there is a nationwide curfew. The police have no leads after days, so despite being confined to his apartment Guo decides to take the case on himself. As he starts to unravel the mystery it soon becomes apparent that his own complicated past is a part of the story. There are also images dotted around that reveal small bits of Chinese Mythology and lore, these tie in nicely with the game’s aesthetic.
Keyword: A Spider’s Thread has an intriguing and intricate narrative, cleverly interwoven and drip-fed to the player creating a sense of suspense and a real desire to find out more. In short, it is a great story, brilliantly delivered.
To progress with the investigation players will need a keen eye for detail as they hack emails, work accounts and social media, spy on nearby residents and offices, deducing information from the environment as well as the documents and media that are discovered. Fortunately, a good memory is not a requirement as the UI incorporates a notes section in which to write key details. As more information is revealed new tasks will also appear on a to-do list with a series of optional hints available if needed.
The main aspects of Keyword: A Spider’s Thread’s gameplay are exploration and puzzle-solving, it is challenging enough to be satisfying without being frustrating and matches the narrative’s crescendo of drama and tension.
Keyword: A Spider’s thread has a clean 3D art style with vibrant colours and atmospheric lighting that really bring the futuristic setting to life. The beautiful blend of cyberpunk and traditional Chinese aesthetics create a unique and immersive environment that is a pleasure to explore. Though it has a fairly small physically explorable environment this is made larger by the inclusion of a cityscape window view, a set of binoculars and things like security footage that can be explored visually.
The ambient sound effects are subtle but immersive and the emotive music is used effectively to add to the overall atmosphere and build tension, reflecting the tone of the game as it progresses.
Keyword: A Spider’s Thread will take around 6-8 hours to complete though the Steam achievements imply there is some replay value in terms of different paths or additional things to discover. It is a fantastic example of a detective game that features immersive gameplay alongside clever narrative design, a gripping story, an emotive soundtrack and unique and vibrant visuals. I don’t have a bad word to say about this game, it was an engaging and satisfying experience that I highly recommend.
For more detailed detective games take a look at:
Orwell Parts 1 and 2 – A Comparative Review – Coffee Noir: A Business Detective Game – Playing Sci-fi Detective in 2000:1: A Space Felony – The Flower Collectors: Rear Window with Wildlife!