My Little Investigations, a game made by fans of the My Little Pony TV Series is freeware released in April 9, 2014. The game is made as a love letter to fans of the Ace Attorney Investigations spin-off series, detailing the “Unspoken adventures of Twilight Sparkle”, and contributing to fan-canon lore.
The game promises a fluid and passionate voice cast, incredible writing, a completely original game engine, and much more. But can it actually deliver on the experience and be a game that can be played regardless of whether or not you’re a brony? Let’s kick off #MLPMonth as we discuss My Little Investigations.
STORY AND NARRATIVE: THE INVESTIGATIONS OF A THIEVERY CASE.
Let’s start by the basic premise of the game before moving to the gameplay. The Ace Attorney series has been known for having intricate and complex plots that stem from seemingly simple cases. My Little Investigations actually offers an equally appealing plot that expands beyond an “open and shut” case.
The game’s story thrives a lot from its plot and characterization. One of the main cast characters, Rarity, was the victim of a robbery of jewelry and her cat. However, it seems like the pony who committed the crime was none other than the young pegasus, Scootaloo.
When Twilight Sparkle arrives at the crime scene, she finds out that there’s an “Investigative Team from Canterlot” who is going to take the investigation duty. After Twilight describes how utterly incompetent they are, she decides to take on the case by herself.
The characterization is downright spot-on for the entire cast of ponies that appear in the game. Twilight Sparkle and company feel like they were taken straight from the show into a detective game. They also made the game’s narrative structure tame but interesting regardless. It’s an incredible effort that must be commended.
The writing pretty much shows how much dedication the lead writers had to making a great and enjoyable game. And the narrative aspect allows players to feel like they are solving a mystery with accessibility to magic and other tricks a Human Prosecutor wouldn’t have.
The story is engaging and emotionally impactful for the gamers willing to try another Ace Attorney spinoff fangame. This game sports an original story with well-crafted characters that doesn’t need a viewing of the original source material to understand. Everything is explained for newcomers and the case contains itself. Overall, it was a great writing performance that puts a great deal of writers to shame.
MECHANICS: Confrontation and Interrogation.
First, we have the open world exploration sequences. Players are able to talk with witnesses or present evidence to them to open up new dialogue options. However, some character dialogues can be hidden with Interrogation sessions and sequences.
Interrogations are presented in the same way as previous Ace Attorney games are. With a row of statements that can be disproven with evidence. However, you can actually opt out of these interrogations in case you don’t have sufficient evidence to expose contradictions. There’s no penalty for getting answers wrong, however.
Then we have Confrontation Sequences, which players will come across during story sections. Similar to Interrogation sequences with the difference being that you have a set number of mistakes (5). Each time you present the wrong piece of evidence, you’ll lose 1 Hit-Point, if you present a right piece of evidence, you’ll hurt their counter by 1 point. These sequences can’t be opted out from and can lead to a game over, so be careful with the evidence you present.
Finally, we have the Partner mechanic, which has been improved drastically over Ace Attorney: Investigations. Partners in My Little Investigations have a set purpose and can actually aid Twilight by having Active and Passive abilities. Take Apple Bloom for example, she allows Twilight to openly speak with Cutie Mark Crusader members and enter the CMC Clubhouse without an issue.
The partner mechanic is only used in two different character and in different situations. However, it will be great to see how the game develops with multiple partners correlating in different scenarios. It certainly would be great to see the feature progressing.
GAMEPLAY AND CONTROLS: Let’s get the investigation Moving!
The gameplay of the game is one of the greatest aspects in My Little Investigations. The engine that was used for this game didn’t have any glitches or bugs that would break my progress. You can control Twilight Sparkle with the Keyboard or you can play the game entirely with your Mouse. Personally, I’d recommend Mouse controls because it feels like the game was constructed with these in mind.
Controller support is also mysteriously absent. Which is flabbergasting because the game comes from a series that was almost entirely played with a Controller. However, it’s nothing to lose sleep at because, once again; the game was constructed around Mouse Controls and it just feels better and more natural.
The controls are responsive and the game runs at a wonderful 60 FPS with 1080p resolution. Incredibly enough, many computers can handle it no problem despite the image quality. Which is a commendable thing in its own right, especially considering that powerful computers are needed for PC gaming.
PRESENTATION: The Image and Sound Behind the Mystery.
The game’s soundtrack is hit and miss, I’ll give you this much. There have been instances where the music becomes painfully annoying and repetitive. I don’t want to hear Ponyville’s theme song ever again in my entire life. And then there’s the game soundtracks that actually have me praising the game’s composer, Trot Pilgrim. The best example being Suspense – Your fate awaits.
The graphics are another highlight from My Little Investigations. Every sprite is made with vectors and as such, they look exactly like the original TV Show counterparts. However, there are also some drawn cutscenes that portray specific moments in the game, and they look equally gorgeous.
I must say that the voice acting is nearly close to that of the Original Source Material. You will never hear voices so close to the actual show’s cast. I like the voice of Twilight Sparkle and hope to see her in future cases. However, some performances like Sweetie Belle’s are a bit Too enthusiastic. Since these issues can be fixed easily however, it’s not a big deal.
GAMEPLAY PROBLEMS: This piece of evidence is a Red Herring!
No game is perfect. Sadly, My Little Investigations has some issues that can’t go without being addressed. First off, there’s the Evidence Combination mechanic, which feels completely unnecessary to begin with. The basic premise is that players can combine two pieces of evidence to update it like Logic in the Investigations spin-off games. This mechanic is used twice in the game and it’s often really easy to figure out. Sadly, this mechanic really doesn’t have much to do here besides those two applications.
There are a LOT of instances where you find yourself going back and forth. Not because you don’t know where to go, but because the pacing is all over the place. There’s a lot of “Go here, then go there and then go over there” in My Little Investigations… And it gets incredibly boring.
This, combined with the times where the game will throw you into a boring piece like that cursed Ponyville theme makes for very repetitious pacing. However, when the game has its moments, it shines a lot and makes you feel like playing an Ace Attorney game.
CONCLUSION: You’re Cornered!
My Little Investigations is a magnificent attempt at reinventing the formula given by the Ace Attorney Investigations sub-series. However, its execution falls flat on its face sometimes and it really is noticeable. While the innovative gameplay mechanics are great, they aren’t used to a bigger extent.
Can I recommend this game to a non-brony gamer? Definitely. This game has the same level of writing and characterization that made the Ace Attorney games so great. So, if visual novels are your thing, this game is going to be great for you.
My Little InvestigationsFree
- Looks like a faithful adaptation of MLP
- Thrilling Storyline
- Amazing Characterization
- Music has its high points
- Innovative gameplay mechanics that make it stand out
- Sloppy execution while implementing some mechanics
- Gameplay is lacking and a bit repetitive
- The music can be grating after some time
- Some Voice Actors feel off