The Last Case of Benedict Fox – Review

A man walks into a mansion late at night, his name is Benedict Fox. He has come here to find answers to a condition that is killing him, his soul is intertwined with a demon that gives him supernatural abilities like being able to see the souls of the dead. Once a member of the mysterious “Order”, a religious demon-hunting group, Benedict has been ostracized for consorting with a demon and so must find his answers elsewhere.

This will be his final night.

I wish the game actually told me any of that at the start… Instead, you’re thrown into the plot in medias res, running away from men in green jumpsuits for a tutorial. After an explosive finish, you find yourself at the mansion with no explanation of what to do apart from “explore”.

I’m not complaining about games keeping their plot obtuse, I’m a massive fan of the environmental storytelling of the Souls series for example, but TLCBF feels like there are whole sections of backstory just missing. One prime example is the shopkeeper is a famous historical character, but made no mention until hours after I had met them.

It does look pretty though, the characters while simple have a strong visual style which does make them unique and memorable. The mansion comes across as gothic and creepy, and the ‘other’ worlds mix from abstract to dreamlike and then to gory flesh caverns.

All the characters are fully voiced and the soundtrack helps keep you in a creeped-out mood. Several times I jumped out of my skin because I was so on edge. Well done on the sound design there!

As a Metroidvania, exploration is the focus of the game, split between the mansion and the otherworldly Limbo with areas becoming available as you unlock more abilities and special tools, with some puzzles really stretching my brain muscles. In this aspect I can’t sing the game’s praises high enough, the puzzles were well thought out and taught you how the main mathematical riddle worked so you got a real sense of accomplishment solving each one. Only one type of puzzle was difficult as the button prompts blended too well into the background. Progression also wasn’t very well signposted as far too often I was backtracking desperate to find the next path. In one section in particular, I had to use a guide as I had missed an important object which blended into the ground.

However, the other half of the game was the combat mechanics. This is where I feel the game fell flat on its face!

At first, it’s a simple case of parry-riposte and it works at the start. Then other mechanics get introduced like having to charge your attacks, having to do finishers or grabbing enemies with your companions’ tentacles. On paper this is fine, but the execution failed poorly. Controls feel laggy and imprecise, leading to failed attacks. Your character gets stuck in animations, leaving you open to attack. You have no I-frames from taking damage, so can get stunlocked to death. Given the fact enemies respawn when the area reloads, combat is a frustrating and unrewarding experience.

Speaking of experience, upon defeat enemies drop ‘ink’ one of the two currencies the other being bits and pieces (BnP), which is added when you discover a memento or puzzle piece. Ink is used to upgrade your abilities and BnP is used for tools and upgrades. Upon death, you drop all the ink you’re holding and have one life to retrieve it, otherwise it returns to the closest enemies. This does mean that there is a set amount of ‘XP’ in the world and grinding cannot be done, but I found myself gaining all abilities by the three-quarter mark and nothing left to spend ink on. Upgrades were also held back by progression anyway so it wasn’t possible to get overpowered early.

The input lag also, unfortunately, occurred in the movement as well as while the double jump was unique, you required a piece of terrain to latch to, it felt imprecise and caused so many unnecessary deaths. In particular during the forced chase scenes where one hit meant a reset.

I will commend the difficulty selection as well as there were separate options for combat, puzzles and exploration, with the easiest option having either an invincible or a solve option allowing full accessibility.

TLCBF splits me right down the middle. The atmosphere, graphics and puzzles were right up my alley but were held back by unfair combat, dodgy jumping and unfocused narrative. I only started having fun when I reduced the combat difficulty and turned on invincibility for the unfair sections and if I essentially had to ‘turn off’ half the game what does that say about the whole package?

Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Microsoft Windows

Developer: Plot Twist

Publisher: Rogue Games Inc.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *