Stranger Things 2


Although I watched Stranger Things in a few chunks, I watched Stranger Things 2 the way it was meant to be watched—all in one sitting! I'm not a TV/cinema guy, so this is gonna be pretty short.

This review will have light spoilers. I'm going to try to write the review so that you can still have full enjoyment of the series, but I wouldn't read if you wanted to go in completely blind.

In Spite of Thunder


A classic Carr set-up with some not-so-classic Carr elements, In Spite of Thunder is not Carr's best solution, but it is certainly one of his most enjoyable adventures.

The Room

This may tear you apart, but no, not the movie

The Room (not to be confused with The Room) is an atmospheric escape-the-room game about, despite the name and genre, opening a series of puzzle boxes. Unlike most escape-the-room games, The Room has full 3D graphics and physical control, making it feel quite close to actually manipulating the boxes yourself. While there a couple of corners that feel like they could be smoothed out, The Room is a high quality puzzler that I recommend if you enjoy the genre.

The Human Chair / 人間椅子


A second Ranpo story, to go with the first! I had known there was something about this story, but I had no idea what. It wasn't as bad as I thought, but... it was still freaky.

Strong Poison


A seemingly hopeless trial, with mounds of evidence apparently proving that it was impossible for anyone but the defendant to be the killer... The opening of Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers feels like it could fit naturally into an Ace Attorney game. Unfortunately, as the novel progresses it departs from what appeared to be its premise.

Strong Poison is a fun book and certainly has elements that (may, depending on your preferences) make it worth reading, but is absolutely not the traditional howdunnit puzzle book that it initially appears to be.

Death Note (Netflix)


I'm not a big movie buff, but there's no way I could not watch this one, and I figured I may as well write about it. I'm going to be focusing on the plot, and you're warned now that there are SPOILERS. (I'm also working off memory for the original Death Note, so apologies if I get any details about it wrong.)

As you've probably already heard, Netflix's new Death Note isn't very good. But if you like the franchise, there are less entertaining ways to spend an hour and a half.

The Psychological Test / 心理試験


(What does that cover have to do with the story? Your guess is as good as mine!)

The Psychological Test is an early short story by Edogawa Ranpo, one of the grandmasters of Japanese mystery fiction, featuring his famous detective Akechi Kogoro. This was the first piece of Ranpo I've ever read, so it felt like something of a milestone for me. Overall, reading The Psychological Test was an interesting experience, and I liked it, but I was slightly disappointed because I felt like some minor changes could have greatly improved it.

The Sexy Brutale


Welcome to the Sexy Brutale, a to-die for party that's so fun, you'll never leave...

The Sexy Brutale is an adventure game that takes place in the titular mansion, where the owner, The Marquis, is hosting his annual gala. However, there are two major problems: one, the day keeps repeating itself in an endless loop, and two, the staff are brutally murdering all the guests. It's up to you to save the guests and discover the secrets of the Sexy Brutale.

Overall I liked the game, but it's by no means perfect. The biggest flaws, I'd say, are inaccurate marketing and an incredible amount of wasted potential. The Sexy Brutale is a stylish, spunky adventure, and as long as you go in knowing what it actually is, as opposed to what their marketing team wants you to think it is, you'll probably have a good time.

Kindaichi Case Files: Computer Cottage Murder Case / 金田一少年の事件簿・電脳山荘殺人事件


Whoooooo, Kindaichi! Kindaichi Case Files is probably my favorite mystery series ever, so whenever I read a Kindaichi story, I always treat it as a treat.

The Computer Cottage Murder Case (the Japanese title doesn't translate into English very well), written by Amagi Seimaru, is the third book in the Kindaichi magazine novel series. The setting is fantastic, and the main trick is quite clever. Seimaru also takes advantage of the unique scenario to play some tricks on the reader. The main problem is that the cluing and then actual proof used by Kindaichi is a bit wishy-washy, but it's still a good book.

Also, the killer's name is Takuma. (And now that you're spoiled, might as well read the whole review, right?)

Dead Man's Folly


Dead Man's Folly is a Hercule Poirot book by Agatha Christie, but perhaps it should have been called "Christie's Folly"... While the premise is fantastic and the idea behind the motive is clever, unfortunately half the cast is pointless, the book never follows through on the premise, and the solution is severely underclued.

There are spoilers tagged with rot-13.

Jotun


Jotun is a 2D miniature Shadow of the Colossus. If that appeals to you, get it.

Tricking Game House / 騙し合いハウス


Here we go again! Tricking Game House is the sequel to Killing Game House, and is another free online web series about a psychological game presented in the style of a fully voiced visual novel. I really liked Killing Game House, and while Tricking Game House was okay, it didn't feel quite as elegant or clever as the previous series. (And, like Killing Game House, it's entirely in Japanese.)

Killing Game House / 殺し合いハウス


(This is not a review I expected to write...)

Killing Game House is a fully voiced Japanese amateur web series presented in the style of a visual novel. (Killing Game House is a direct translation of the title. If I was going to localize it, I'd probably call it something like "Murder Mansion.") The creators described their intention as creating a cross between Liar Game and Future Diary, and I think they succeeded! (And just in case you didn't believe those two works were the inspiration, there's a character named Akiyama Minane.) Killing Game House has the basic Future Diary plot of a bunch of people with magic powers trying to kill each other, with the aesthetic and structure of a game as in Liar Game. I stumbled upon this series by complete accident today, and gave the whole thing a whirl... and it held up!