—a sweet kind of mystery—
Fans of the mystery genre need look no further than High School Detective: The Case of the Honey Trap, a point-and-click adventure RPG in which you star as the school burnout, Duncan Cox, who is at severe risk of being suspended if not altogether expelled for his constant misbehaviour. But as fate would have it, the school Principal Paul Abdul (who incidentally does not resemble his female counterpart in the slightest) demands Duncan to figure out who is guilty of poisoning star athlete Rip Powers and threatens to pin the whole shebang on Duncan if he can’t. In other words, failure ain’t an option folks.
You’re immediately confronted with a left/right dichotomy of arrows, which sets the whole tone of the game well. High School Detective thrives on giving the player agency over the outcome of the plot, which has a number of alternate endings based on your choices. Sometimes you are forced to choose a particular option, only to find that it’s a dead end. For instance, ‘talking’ to football players is a no go as they merely end up using Duncan as a punching bag, so you’re left with the option of visiting model lookalike Nurse Robinson to progress the game forward. This development is a nice way to allow us to embody Duncan’s position in the school hierarchy, which is not unlike watching a film that explores high school life from the perspective of the anti-hero. Talking to a bed ridden Rip, we discover that he’s pretty bamboozled as to who might have poisoned
his protein shake. We also learn his girlfriend Bunny is the only person he has arguments with, which immediately sets her up as the first suspect.
Marvin the school Mascot then enters the room, who seems to share the same voice as Principal Abdul. He also seems to be innocent. But as a target for wedgies and a possessor of an unrequited crush on Bunny, it’s not hard to see why Marvin might have tampered with the honey in Rip’s shake, so he earns the title of suspect. Then there’s the matter of the honey pot situated right on the table in Nurse Robinson’s sick bay. When you straight out accuse her of poisoning Rip with it, she hotly denies it, proclaiming that she heals people and doesn’t hurt them. You’re then given the option of visiting Bunny at cheerleading practice or going to the football team to have a chat with Rip’s team mates.
Talking to Bunny you find out she has a history of ‘violence’, and by that I mean she slapped another girl for trying to get between her and Rip. She pins the blame on Baxter St.Baxter, a second string quarterback who’s ‘always had it in for Rip’. But more importantly, questioning her further reveals some interesting details: the guilty party poisoned Rip’s shake while it was still in the men’s locker room, which is where he keeps it. So naturally you take her advice about Baxter and go to see him. Baxter, you’ll notice, has a few quirks that come across as obsessive behaviour, such as polishing his family crest 273 times each day and whenever he walks past it. He admits he’s glad Rip won’t be playing as starting quarterback, a position he’s been coveting for a while now, which puts him into the suspect number three category. But Baxter also brings up Coach Randal (who has gambling debts that he’s attempting to pay off by bribing Rip and the team to lose their matches) and suggests that he is the one responsible for his poisoning. At this point the player can choose to apprehend Baxter and report him to Principal Abdul, or investigate Coach Randall first. The story is only deepening here, in what is shaping up to be an excellently constructed mystery where at best we can only guess who might be the true criminal. Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I chose to see Coach Randall.
Coach Randall comes across as your typical fast-talking, thrill seeking sports fanatic, who also seems to find gambling more important than his own team’s success. And if you’re paying attention, he’ll mention something about shaving this morning. Coach is definitely suspect number three, and when you distract him successfully you’re able to nab a key that will open Baxter’s locker from one of his drawers. And when you do finally reach his locker, guess what’s waiting inside it?
That’s right, cold, hard, evidence, wrapped inside…a mascot costume? We’re definitely being led to believe that Baxter is the culprit, since Marvin’s costume is inside his locker, but this case is far from over. I chose to go and see Marvin next, who supplies us with the very useful information that everything on campus is being recorded. Duncan follows him to the security office and starts questioning the ‘eyes and ears’ of the school, Brock Krimes. He tells you Marvin was in his office this morning during the time Rip was poisoned, so Marvin’s off the list.
Marvin goes on to say both Baxter and Bunny have the combination to his locker, so we can deduce that it must be either one of them who stole mascot costume. After you convince (read: pretend one of your five dollar bills is counterfeit and needs further analysis) Krimes to leave the office so you can view the school’s security tapes, it’s time to get sleuthing. Viewing the footage of the men’s locker room this morning, you see somebody dressed as the school mascot sneaking right in there. If we’ve added up everything correctly it can only be Bunny, Baxter, or Coach Randall. But as Marvin rightly says, Baxter couldn’t have been the one since he must always polish his family crest when he walks past it. The possibility of Bunny being guilty comes up next, which gets Marvin into a frenzy and he dons the mascot costume and starts banging his head against the wall. Console him, and you’ll notice that when he removes the costume there is shaving cream and razor stubble stuck to his face. Now who can you remember saying he shaved that morning?
High School Detective is not only a consistently intriguing mystery game, but also puts a humorous twist on high school life and brings that to life in a digital, interactive format. If you enjoy solving crimes, have a soft spot for point and click games, and also like films about all the wonderful perks of being in high school, you will love this game. And if you do enjoy it more than you might expect, there’s always the equally awesome sequel, High School Detective 2: The Case of the Mystery Man.
- Gives player lots of control
- Great humour that feeds off stereotypes well
- Plot is unpredictable and intriguing
- Could have been a bit longer
- More areas inbuilt into school map would increase replayability
P.S. If you were expecting me to reveal who poisoned Rip, what kind of mystery would that be?