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The Last Case of Benedict Fox: Definitive Edition review – A fascinating mess

The Last Case of Benedict Fox
Image: Plot Twist

Nearly a year after its release on Xbox consoles and PC, The Last Case of Benedict Fox has now made the jump to PS5 in the form of a ‘Definitive Edition’. Despite a wealth of apparent tweaks and content updates, however, this is a game that still doesn’t impress on the whole. A unique metroidvania with an abundance of puzzles and a Lovecraftian theme, it’s both fascinating and a bit of a mess.

Putting players in control of the titular Benedict Fox, a self-proclaimed detective, The Last Case of Benedict Fox: Definitive Edition finds him arriving at a mansion in order to investigate a grisly murder. But perhaps not everything is as it seems. In any case, there’s a curious thing about Benedict – he’s accompanied by a demonic being which allows him to delve into the memories of the dead. And so, the mansion is actually little more than a hub for your work, with the majority of your investigation taking place in what is essentially Limbo.

Eventually you’ll find there are two victims in The Last Case of Benedict Fox: Definitive Edition, which means there are two Limbos to explore, each with their own touch. Both are dark places filled with enemies and hazards that you need to avoid, however. And both are also labyrinthine in nature, filled with dead-ends that you’ll need to overcome by gaining new skills and finding useful items. Thankfully you’ll find Anchor points spread liberally throughout. Not only do these allow you to quickly travel between the mansion and points of interest in the two Limbos, but also bank any Ink you’ve gained by dispatching enemies.

The Last Case of Benedict Fox
Image: Plot Twist

The Last Case of Benedict Fox: Definitive Edition is very much a metroidvania, then, but one where you don’t really feel like you’re setting out to achieve a specific goal. It’s partly because the story is told in such a haphazard manner, failing to get you invested in the plight of those who once lived in the mansion. It’s also because instead of simply working towards one goal, being rewarded for it and then moving onto another, you’re generally working towards multiple goals all at once. As a result it feels rather chaotic.

Related: The best metroidvania games on PS5

With your progress frequently blocked, you’ll be warping here, there and everywhere on a regular basis, trying to find something that will allow you to move forward, and it stifles your forward momentum. The are a wide variety of roadblocks here, too, and it’s often poorly explained how you overcome them. Sometimes you need to acquire new demonic skills so that you can break weak floorboards or pull strange creatures out of doorways, for example. Other times you need to find new tools, such as a compass which you can use to program a mysterious key and send special waves.

Many of the roadblocks in found The Last Case of Benedict Fox, then, aren’t simply overcome by finding things or acquiring new skills, but also by solving puzzles. They can be fun, initially, but after a while they begin to grate, especially when you feel like you’ve done the same puzzle numerous times. Thankfully there’s a lifeline for those who eventually grow tired of all the puzzling: you can reduce the puzzle difficulty level which gives you the option to auto-solve puzzles where available. In fact, customisation is one of The Last Case of Benedict Fox: Definitive Edition’s strong points.

The Last Case of Benedict Fox
Image: Plot Twist

The game’s combat, for example, while improved since launch, is still not particularly fun. You have a decent range of skills up your sleeves, and more can be unlocked by using your accumulated ink to get tattoos. But even with your full repertoire you’ll probably groan every time you encounter some foes needing to be taken down. Like puzzles, though, you can take the stress out of encounters if you wish, dramatically lowering the strength of your enemies or even making Benedict himself invincible. Throw in options that allow you to have quest markers displayed on the map, and more, and you have a game that you can truly tweak to your preferences.

As much as The Last Case of Benedict Fox has been improved since launch for this Definitive Edition, however, it still feels rather scrappy on the whole. There are two graphics modes available – Performance and Quality – but there’s little, if any, difference between them. This is a game that looks rather nice at times, but the art direction sometimes gets in the way of exploration. What’s worse is the frequent stuttering that you encounter. Along with the occasional glitch or bug that might rear its ugly head, you’ll wonder what state the game was in before it received its ‘Definitive Edition’ moniker.

There’s no doubt that some will absolutely love what The Last Case of Benedict Fox: Definitive Edition sets out to offer. It is genuinely unique, and you might feel a pull to bring the case to an end in spite of its many issues. It is a bit of a mess, though, both technically and mechanically, and it’s telling that there are options to trivialise both the game’s combat and puzzles. Still, they help make completing Benedict’s last case more palatable, and that’s all you can ask.

The Last Case of Benedict Fox: Definitive Edition review – GameSpew’s Score

GameSpew Our Score 6
This review of The Last Case of Benedict Fox: Definitive Edition is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!