Image a world like ours in the 1920s, but instead of humans, it is populated by sapient animals. And then one of them gets killed, and a giraffe and a hippopotamus have to solve the murder. That is the premise of Lord Winklebottom Investigates: The Case of the Expired Axolotl, a point-and-click adventure by Cave Monsters. We played its demo at PLAY Expo Blackpool 2018.
If this sounds like a liberal adaptation of an Agatha Christie crime mystery to you, you are on the right track. The murder central to The Case of the Expired Axolotl does indeed happen in a somewhat isolated location, the motives are unclear and the pool of suspects is limited.
Said location is the island home of Admiral Gilfrey, wealthy veteran and titular axolotl. Gilfrey invited a number of characters to his island, among them Lord Winklebottom, a giraffe, and Dr Reginald Frumple, a hippopotamus.
Upon arrival, Admiral Gilfrey is found dead in his tank. Winklebottom and Frumple suspect foul play and decide to investigate. Said investigation takes the form of a traditional point-and-click adventure. Items have to be collected and combined, clues are to be found and suspects to be interrogated.
The gameplay of The Case of the Expired Axolotl sticks with established elements and holds no surprises. Instead, its best aspect are its setting and characters. Set during the Interbellum, The Case of the Expired Axolotl offers hand-drawn graphics and plenty of hints at a world larger than the one shown in-game, such as mentions of friction between various groups of animals.
A charming addition is the cast. Lord Winklebottom is an archetypical English gentleman, but also a giraffe. The absurdity of this combination is not acknowledged once, which only adds to The Case of the Expired Axolotl‘s humour. Less cheerful and grumpier is Dr Frumple, a hippopotamus with a bowler hat who balances Winklebottom’s positive outlook.
Based on its demo, The Case of the Expired Axolotl shows a lot of promise. Fans of adventure games and those who like quadrupeds in snazzy dinner jackets should keep an eye on it.
Lord Winklebottom Investigates: The Case of the Expired Axolotl is expected to be released in Q4 2019 for PC, Android, and iOS. You can find out more about the game on the developer’s website.