Case Files: Behind Closed Doors – Locked down

Cold case or hot shot?

Catch a killer in Case Files: Behind Closed Doors.

Sound the FMV klaxon, it’s time for me to look at another live action video game! I don’t know what it is about having real actors and decisions in a game, but I certainly do like them. This time, much like in Criminal Expert from earlier this year, I’ll be using my intuitive eye during police interviews to determine the culprit of a crime. Case Files: Behind Closed Doors might be a stronger game than that, but it’s not without its drawbacks.

You play as a nameless police investigator, partnered with Detective Ruiz, who are working together to solve the murder of Daniel, an allegedly abusive boyfriend. You’ll be reading through police reports and phone records, as well as watching live interviews conducted by your partner. At various points he’ll call you to ask what you think the next approach should be, with you ultimately needing to make the call on who you think the killer is.

At the beginning, Ruiz informs you that all the printouts you need are already there in the room, along with security footage from the house where the crime took place. He tells you that he’ll conduct the interviews, which you’ll observe whilst trying to find any flaws in their testimony that can be used to dig into their stories a bit more.

Case Files: Behind Closed Doors
You’re free to move around the office and check evidence whilst interviews are happening. You can’t pause them when they’re live though.

You’re able to freely roam around your office, looking at documents and photos, as well as going over previous camera footage from the house and interviews, which is a nice bit of freedom. Doing this between interviews is somewhat important as you try to find information that hints at whether an interviewee is telling the truth, as well as if there are holes in their stories. Irritatingly, although it is realistic, you aren’t able to pause the interviews until after they’ve been conducted and you’re watching them back. Personally, I turned on the ability to skip video scenes so I could immediately watch them back, pausing them at will.

Being able to pause and root through information is important, but the only real interaction you have is making a handful of choices. And I really do mean a handful of them, many of which won’t really make much difference to the outcome. After some interviews you’ll be asked if you believe them. Should you choose correctly you’ll get a more in depth follow-up interview that will reveal more information that could help you make your final decision. 

Case Files: Behind Closed Doors
I quite liked Janice as a character. She comes across well in her scenes.

Other interviews will tell you to find two conflicting pieces of information from the evidence gathered so far. This was quite irritating as I had found two things that didn’t add up only to be told that they weren’t the right ones. I ended up brute forcing some of the solutions here as I couldn’t guess what the developers were asking me to do. There’s no actual choice of path here, just you needing to click on the right items to progress. 

Ultimately, the only decisions that have any weight are the choice of culprit and, should you choose the right one, a follow-up choice that I won’t spoil. It’s a bit of a shame as I quite like my FMV games to have a variety of paths, otherwise it really ends up just being a movie. 

I liked the fact that I could go over the evidence as many times as I wanted though, and I even managed to put a narrative together in my own mind as things started to fall into place though. The lack of time pressure outside of the interviews was nice, and allowed me to think things through at my own pace, even if the conflicting evidence puzzles didn’t work the way I wanted them to. As I went through the game, I found myself changing what I thought actually happened based on new testimony too, which is the sign of a good twisty-turny murder mystery. Whilst I managed to identify the correct killer on my first run through, I still had my doubts even running up to those final scenes. Case Files: Behind Closed Doors might be very linear, but I didn’t dislike playing it.

Case Files: Behind Closed Doors
Checking security footage is useful for finding contradictions. I would have liked there to have been a bit more of this rather than just the four pieces.

A strong element here is the acting, which I feel is fairly well done considering how the game is set up. Janice in particular felt like a well rounded character, having recently left prison for a similar crime to that being investigated. Ruiz was also quite likeable, even though he came across as a bit limp in some of the interviews. I’d have liked more security footage from the house to sift through, as it would have allowed me to see the actors with a little more range than just having an interview, but on the whole I think the cast have done a good job.

Case Files: Behind Closed Doors isn’t the strongest FMV game I’ve ever played, but it’s certainly a solid story with a little bit of detective work required from the player. Getting the right choice the first time didn’t make me want to play through again and take another path though, as the only real decision is right at the death of the narrative. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my time with the game, and I hope this is a series that carries on, but with more diverging paths and endings. I know this is a lot to ask for a small studio making FMV games, but I feel that allowing Detective Ruiz to flex a bit more freedom would be fun to see.

Case Files: Behind Closed Doors
Some questions need to be answered correctly to get more information, making your final decision easier.

Case Files: Behind Closed Doors is available now on PC.

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