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Detective: Stella Porta Case Review

Detective: Stella Porta Case
Image: Jandusoft

The mystery/detective genre has fast become one of my favourites in the last few months, and not just in video games. I’ve been lapping up police procedural novels and digging out just about any mystery thriller movie I can get my hands on.

And so, I jumped at the chance of playing Detective: Stella Porta Case, which has landed on PC and consoles today. This small-team indie effort puts you in the shoes of a detective investigating three different, but somehow connected, murder cases. It promises detailed investigation across realistic crime scenes, where it’s up to you to solve the crime based on the evidence you find.

Unfortunately, “detailed investigation” might be a bit of a stretch. Scouring a crime scene in Detective: Stella Porta Case feels more like a search-and-find game – simply click the items that look like they might be clues, and the job’s done. You’ll always know how many items you’re looking for, and most of them are rather obvious and easy to find (as long as you remember to open doors and cupboards).

Detective: Stella Porta Case
Image: Jandusoft

Evidence generally falls into one of two categories: an object, or testimony, that acts as a clue, and some sort of physical evidence to be photographed. Each case here will yield six photographs, and solving a case in Detective: Stella Porta Case is simply a case of figuring out a chain of events by putting those photos in order. The other pieces of evidence you’ve found will, hopefully, support you in figuring out the timeline.

I like that there’s no hand-holding here; you’re free to make your own guesses and assumptions. The problem is, none of the cases have quite enough evidence to make the crimes clear-cut – and the photos you need to put into order aren’t always clear in what they’re trying to show. For example, a close-up photograph of a victim’s wallet was supposed to signify he was in the bathroom at the time the crime happened. Hmm.

There’s some fun to be had in trying to recreate a crime and figuring out exactly what happened, but it’s also an exercise in frustration. Ultimately, you’ll likely end up trying multiple timeline combinations until you stumble upon the right one. It would be helpful to have some sort of indication that one image has been put in the right place. As it is, you’ll have no idea until you manage to crack the whole thing.

Detective: Stella Porta Case
Image: Jandusoft

Admittedly, the overarching story here managed to grab my attention somewhat, even if it is half-baked. The three cases are tied together by the titular “Stella Porta”. Seemingly some sort of cult, Stella Porta has manipulated a group of people, convincing them to commit crimes in order to recruit them for a mysterious cause. But considering each case can be solved in a matter of minutes, there’s not a great deal of time to expand the narrative at play here. It’s a shame, too, because Detective: Stella Porta Case has some good ideas – it’s all just a little roughly thrown together.

That’s really the problem here – Detective: Stella Porta Case is just too rough around the edges to really stand out. To say this is a solo dev project it’s a commendable effort, but it doesn’t make for the most fulfilling experience as a player. It’s janky and barebones, and the frustration of figuring out each crime’s timeline outweighs any satisfaction you might feel from cracking the case.


Detective: Stella Porta Case Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Detective: Stella Porta Case is based on the PS5 version of the game, with a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.
Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.