Mobile

Cause of Death Review

Cause of Death LogoThis EA Mobile puzzle-adventure for the iOS platform is a text-based but action-packed thriller. The game’s innovative content delivery system is built like a weekly television series, with new episodes “airing” every Friday and available for download for the following seven days. Featuring Detective Mal Fallon of the San Francisco Police Department and Special Agent Natara Williams of the FBI, Cause of Death is captivating and exciting.

The game is available as a free download on the App Store with advertisements or can be purchased for $1.99, ad-free. Included with the game is Volume One (a complete series of chapters), which sends Mal and Natara on the hunt for the Maskmaker, a ruthless serial killer that preys on young woman. The suspense is strong through the game and the plot twists will keep you guessing. Read More…

Alternatively playing as Mal, Natara or other characters you encounter along the way, you will direct the course of the action by selecting one of multiple options, choosing actions to do or things to say. Certain choices are timed, giving you only a few seconds to read the options and make your decision, which really put you on the spot and sink you deep into the action.

For every correct choice you make, you will earn Detective Points. Earning more than 80 Detective Points in a chapter will put you at the Detective rank, while fewer points may get you such lesser titles as Street Cop or Foot Patrol. If you successfully get Detective rank in every chapter (of Volume One), you will unlock a bonus scene at the end of the story.

Cause of Death Features Detailed GraphicsShould you fail a chapter or complete it with a less-than-perfect score, you will have the option to play it over instead of moving on to the next one. In some chapters, failing will also give you the choice to restart from a checkpoint or from the beginning of the chapter.

The writing in this first episode of Cause of Death was very good—witty and well paced—and included significant character development, bringing you to care for Mal and Natara, as well as for the secondary characters. The plot twists were unexpected to me, and kept me reading.

The art is also very attractive, with colourful and detailed graphics. Its simple 2D character art shows different emotions depending on the context, and still backgrounds feature the locations where the action takes place. As for the music, it very much suits the action and changes constantly within scenes to raise or drop suspense. Players have the option to play with or without music, as well as listen to their own songs.

Weekly downloadable episodes are offered as unique chapters. Skipping a week will create a gap in your episode list, which can lead to confusion, and there is currently no way to acquire the missing content. I have also found that the “ad-free” feature for which I paid seems to have disappeared in the downloadable content, since I saw an ad when loading the latest free episode. This could be linked to the fact that I had paid $0.99 for my version, before EA introduced the new price point of $1.99. In addition to the downloadable episodes, the game also offers never-before-aired story lines which are available to download in the On Demand section of the game.

While I can’t say exactly how long the game’s first episode ran, due to a few repeated chapters and interrupted play sessions, I would estimate that Volume One lasted me about two hours. However, it may run shorter for fast readers and vice versa. Though the content delivery system requires players to “tune in” weekly to take full advantage of the game‘s value and that the $1.99 ad-free version has a few kinks, the game is good value. If you enjoy suspenseful detective stories and  mystery solving, Cause of Death is certainly worth picking up.

Positives:

+ Action-Packed and Captivating Plot
+ Excellent Writing and Presentation

Negatives:

- Additional Episodes Are Only Available for Seven Days
- Content Delivery System can be Confusing


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Game Forward Score: 3/5

Nathalie Caron > Game Forward

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Cause of Death (iPhone/ iPod Touch) Quick Facts:

Genre: Adventure
Developer: EA Mobile
Publisher: EA Mobile
Release Date: December 16, 2010
Price: $1.99 (Free if Ad-Supported)
iTunes Rating: 12+