Sometimes your family can make you feel like you’re sitting at a high stakes Poker game and you’ve got one heck of a bad hand. You can’t do much about what you’ve been dealt, only try to do your best with it and bluff like hell to make it through. You’ve also gotta be prepared to call a few of their bluffs too, but avoid making enemies at the same time. These people can make or break you and certainly won’t hesitate to bring you down in order to raise themselves up onto a pedestal.
Ok so most families aren’t quite that complicated, but the one in today’s game certainly is… possibly worse. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus from Good Gate Media and Wales Interactive is an FMV style game about a wealthy and dysfunctional family all getting together to play a quiz game via video chat. Sounds suspiciously wholesome doesn’t it? And truly it would be were it not for the pack of unabashedly self-absorbed people playing it. Not to mention that now it seems one of them is also a murderer on top of it all! The main protagonist Abby is contacted by her beloved Uncle Marcus right before game time. He’s given her the grave news that at the last family meeting (for which she was absent), someone poisoned him and he is quickly running out of time to not only find the proper antidote, but also who the heck did it in the first place! She’s got to play her cards close to the chest and suss out the perpetrator before the game ends or it’ll mean the end of more than just a game for poor uncle Marcus!
For anyone wondering, FMV stands for “full motion video” and when it comes to the genre of video games that means live action video recorded and put together in such a way that as you work through the story and make choices, the appropriate responses from each actor will play out much like a movie. It’s a game meant to be replayed in succession, at least a few times, in order to find out new bits of information by making different choices each time and finally resolve whatever the dilemma is.
I can’t say I’ve ever played a game quite like it before, but Patrick and I both love a good mystery game so we were really excited to be able to give this one a try together. Our thinking caps were on, locked, and ready to go!
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus takes a bit of a different approach to your typical game, where your participation is limited to simply choosing dialogue options and then watching the scene unfold based on that. Unlike a visual novel where you read blocks upon blocks of text with a few scene changes and maybe even a few animated cutscenes, in this case there is next to no reading involved and everything is acted out for you.
The actors really did a fantastic job for each of their characters. All of them were completely believable in their roles whether it was the sweet, loving Nan, the cruel, drunken aunt, the shallow, self-absorbed sister, the virtue signaling older cousin, the death obsessed younger cousin, or the mousy, awkward main character Abby. And not to be forgotten of course, the mother! What a pill! The characters were all written to be extreme versions of recognizable tropes, but that didn’t stop them from being hilariously relatable and convincing in their interactions with one another. I have to say, by the end of our time with Who Pressed Mute On Uncle Marcus I found myself quite attached to the whole family despite some of their horrible personalities.
The game doesn’t have any complex mechanics to learn, or bosses to defeat, or convoluted puzzles to figure out (other than the main one of course) , so really there isn’t much that could go wrong. The acting, as I’ve already mentioned, is very well done. The story flows nicely regardless of your choices. So, really the only complaints we had while playing it boil down to only a few small gripes.
You will have to run through the store multiple times in order to get all the information you need to nail down the rightful perpetrator, and while you can easily skip through any dialogue choices you’ve already made, the game doesn’t really let you skip through any dialogue that doesn’t involve a choice. Some of the story scenes will always play out no matter what and while there’s no doubt they are important to the plot, after seeing them for the 10th time it has definitely gotten way past old. Let me skip those too or at least fast forward or something.
Also, while it’s convenient that the game keeps track of the evidence you’ve unlocked, it would be nice if there were some way to track the different paths you’ve taken as well for subsequent playthroughs. After so many runs through the story it can get tough to remember which dialogue choices we’ve already chosen, and in which situations. We opened up a word doc to help keep track on our own, but something in game would be nice too. Like I said, small gripes, but worth keeping in mind just the same.
We absolutely loved playing through Who Pressed Mute On Uncle Marcus. It’s a great game to get together with your own family, even if they don’t typically play video games, and try to riddle out the ending. Even with just the two of us it sparked plenty of fun conversations and speculations. So if you’re in the market for a fantastic party game or even just a game that’s a little bit different, then I wholeheartedly recommend this one.
If you’d like to try your hand at figuring out Who Pressed Mute On Uncle Marcus then you can find it on Steam March 18th.