“Everything must be taken into account. If the fact will not fit the theory, let the theory go.” Agatha Christie
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus is a quirky FMV whodunnit from Wales Interactive, creators of Late Shift. It is a Murder mystery from a twist, in which players find themselves at an annual quiz trying to figure out who poisoned Uncle Marcus in order to save him.
Developer: Wales Interactive
Released: 18th March 2022
The game begins with the protagonist Abby being late to an online family quiz in honour of her mother’s birthday, however, just as she is about to join the quiz she receives a video call from the titular Uncle Marcus. He explains that he was poisoned at a recent family meeting and needs you to work out who did it and what poison they used in order to save him. To make matters worse, time is running out!
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus features a non-linear and branching narrative which requires multiple playthroughs to fully explore. There are also plenty of red herrings and surprising twists to distract the player. It features a range of eclectic characters, some more likeable than others, and it is soon clear that there is a lot of tension and animosity between certain family members. The dialogue writing is a little stiff at times but is delivered well overall, due in no small part to the talented group of actors cast in this title, including Gabrielle Glaister of Blackadder and Andy Buckley of The US Office.
The bulk of the interactivity in Who Pressed Mute of Uncle Marcus is making dialogue choices in an effort to direct the line of questioning and find out more information about what happened at the family meeting. There is only a short time given to make choices but there is a streamer mode with enables the player to pause when making decisions. The dialogue choices will dictate if certain information is revealed to the player, this is of course, instrumental to the overarching story and to Uncle Marcus’ wellbeing!
The three main objectives are to find out which poison was used, find the proof and find the killer. Players can also look at a family tree and examine their gathered evidence. Any evidence gathered will remain during subsequent playthroughs.
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus is primarily an FMV experience with high-quality video and a very clean and easy to navigate UI for the evidence log and video call sections. Most family members are each sat in a different room in their home allowing for some variety in the scenery whilst also sticking to a common theme.
The music is a mix of jaunty tracks that feel right at home in this relatively light-hearted murder mystery. Players will hear the sounds of woodwind, piano and drums at various tempos throughout the game. There is a slight comedic undertone to the game which perfectly matches the audio elements. The soundtrack is well implemented with the music standing out and fading to the background in all the right places.
Overall, Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus is another great example of an FMV game from Wales Interactive. The story is engaging and the branching narrative design creates a real sense of intrigue. It is about the same length as a film but since it is impossible to gather all the evidence in a single playthrough the player will need to start the game multiple times, however, subsequent playthroughs are much shorter. The game blends genres such as interactive fiction, puzzle and detective games with subtlety to create an immersive but fairly casual experience that I am happy to recommend.
For more games with FMV elements check out the following reviews:
New Historical Narrative Game – Svoboda 1945: Liberation – Unravelling Her Story