AlexisRoyce’s The Case of the Serialized Killer is a queer murder mystery visual novel that has huge Sherlock Holmes meets Benoit Blanc energy. The game follows disgraced demonology/alchemy professor and trans man Harold Ludicael, and his assistant — the gay former sailor/demonology researcher Hawley Faraday — as they attend a famous murder mystery author’s party to hold a séance.
The author, Bernadette Bell’s, friend and illustrator has recently been killed rather gruesomely, and Bell wants to ask her ghost whodunnit. Harry agrees to attend the party and perform the ritual, despite the fact that he doesn’t actually think ghosts can be summoned at all. That said, he is intimately familiar with imps and demons, who definitely exist in this world, along with fae and other magical creatures — some of whom you even meet during the party.
As befits any good murder mystery set in an opulent Edwardian mansion, the assembled guests are all diverse and eccentric in various ways. The fae you meet, Lupine, shows up to the party without an invitation and apparently eats stories rather than food. Goose Downy is a wildly tall hitman who uses they/them pronouns and wears a top hat. Dea DeLus is a wealthy and prominent shipwright who is blind, married to a real jerk who’s also in attendance, and may have killed her father to take over his business. Deborah Vance is Bell’s editor and a former writer who popularized stories about the fae that are now mostly seen as children’s fairytales. Myers is an actress who has been cast in the leading role of a play adaptation of one of Bell’s stories. Nowak is DeLus’ military man husband who seems to have a real mean streak. When the séance is interrupted and Bell is later found dead in her own boiler room, these are the suspects Harry and Faraday have to work with.
Faraday keeps track of everyone’s stories and quirks in a notebook that we can access as players. Beyond character information, notes from Faraday’s past research will also unlock as you progress the plot, which sheds more light on his relationship with Harry and what led to the demonologist’s ruination.
Murder mysteries are generally a good time, but The Case of the Serialized Killer shines in its character writing. The cast is diverse, but also overly dramatic and all of them exist in different moral gray areas which makes them feel simultaneously dynamic and realistic. Seeing Harry as a complicated transgender adult who has made mistakes but isn’t necessarily an awful person is great and adds to the overall story about characters who are all seeking different things, be they out of love, greed, or a desire for redemption.
The game is available on itch.io and can be played in browser or via direct download. If you own the 2022 Queer Games Bundle, then you already own it!