What would you do if you witnessed your neighbours acting very suspiciously just as an eight-year-old girl is reported missing?
That’s the situation in which Robert Conway finds himself in Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View. An ex-detective, Conway can’t help himself from getting involved when it’s reported that local girl Charlotte May has disappeared. He might be retired, but detective blood still courses through his veins, and if he can help uncover the truth, then he will.
Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View is set to release on 2nd November, but a demo of the game is available to download now on Steam. We’ve had our hands on the short preview build, allowing us to play through roughly 45 minutes of the game. In the segment, we see Conway, with camera in hand, witness his neighbours, the McKees, acting very strangely.
Through the window, he first sees Mrs. McKee react to something in her pantry. Then, she passes her husband a knife and a mallet. Choose between them, she seems to be saying. A short while later, the pair emerge from their front door, with Mr. McKee lugging a roll of carpet out of the apartment complex and into his car’s boot. He asks his wife for help; “I’m not touching it,” she says. Robert Conway has captured photos of it all – and whether or not it’s related to the disappearance of Charlotte May, he’s certain something isn’t right.
The next section of the demo sees Conway confront Mrs. McKee, interrogating her about where she was on the day that Charlotte went missing. He’s granted access to her apartment – and somehow, miraculously, gets an opportunity to snoop around. He pokes around every nook and cranny he can get into, looking for whatever modicum of evidence he might be able to find.
If you’re a fan of playing the role of a detective, Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View is likely to be right up your street. It’s a game that doesn’t seem to hold your hand, giving you free will to explore how you want. Excellent voice acting across the board really elevates the experience to the next level, too. Only having spent a short time with Conway, it’s hard to tell how trustworthy of a protagonist he is – but his narration will instantly draw you in.
There are a few concerns with the gameplay, however. Robert Conway is wheelchair-bound, and while having a wheelchair user as a protagonist is refreshing, manoeuvring him around regularly proved to be awkward. You need to use the left stick to move in the direction you’re facing, and the right stick to rotate. Coupled with fixed camera angles, it’s quite easy to get stuck in an out-of-sight corner. It feels just a bit reminiscent of PS1-era tank controls.
And since the items you can interact with aren’t highlighted until you are up close to them – when an ‘X’ appears on screen to prompt you to press a button – it means you’ll have to manoeuvre around a lot to find what you can investigate further. The controls feel a little clunky at times, too. You’ll frequently have to hold and drag to rotate objects, or to open up cupboards. And while it’s nice to feel more ‘in control’ of the objects you’re interacting with, it also just makes everything feel a little more arduous.
Of course, the demo isn’t necessarily representative of the finished game, and developer White Paper Games still has time to add some final polish before Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View releases next month. And even despite those minor frustrations, I’m still very keen to play more. Just a small slice of Conway‘s story has me hooked to find out what’s going on in Dahlia View. I’m also very interested to learn more about Robert Conway himself; there’s certainly more to the man than meets the eye.
Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View packs atmosphere in droves, and despite a few reservations, this could be one of the most intriguing detective mysteries we’ve had in quite some time.
You can play the demo of Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View for yourself by clicking here. The game is set to release on 2nd November for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and PC.