Evidence 111, developed by Play By Ears, is one of the most unique experiences I have ever had playing a game. The game is ultimately an audio-based game that one can play without even looking at the screen. The game is a neo-noir mystery with hints of horror. It is an audio story with players choosing how to control the main character through the mystery.
Players play as Alice Wells, a police officer; as her, we need to make choices about how she reacts. Zoe Robins plays Alice Wells and is pretty great. The voice acting, on the whole, is what carries the game. The gameplay itself is basic, easy and competent. But the story, choices, voice acting, and sound effects are what the game is about. All this is to lead a unique audio experience. The game itself is very pretty short, with the story taking around one and a half to two hours on the whole.
Evidence 111 has been available on App Store and Google Play Store since 21st November. Everyone can play the free demo, and once the demo is done, one can continue the game by buying the full game for $4.99.
Story – A Typical Whodunnit
We start the game playing as Alice Wells, an inspector in Farnham, England, in 1985. We follow her as she is on the road, just joking around with the call operator; here, we can see that she is a confident and fun person. This is when suddenly she is ordered to be dispatched for a car accident. This goes wrong, and a kid dies. There is a time jump for a long time. Alice Wells is older now and sounds a bit more down. We come to know that she is also a lieutenant. This is when she suddenly gets an anonymous call; this caller wants the evidence file for the case where the kid died in the accident. This is the titular evidence file Evidence 111. Alice is asked to come to a small inn on an island, and just like any neo-noir story, it starts raining heavily.
Setting Up the Mystery
Once she arrives at the Inn to find a set of interesting characters. First, the Keswille Family with Adele and Richard with their kid Hugo. Richard is the typical asshole writer, with Adele being the voice of reason. Hugo is just a very active child bouncing around. We also meet Detective John Broderick, an old-school cop who is just there to relax and blow some stress. Alice is then greeted by the receptionist Ethel as she is in the Inn. Ethel seems a bit talkative and is put off when we ask her for the room for Alice. This appears to be because the Inn is haunted, and a Reverend is coming for the haunted Inn.
So the room the blackmailer instructs Alice to be in is now being given to the Reverend. This is when all hell breaks loose, and Hugo goes missing. So like Alice, the players are stuck in this Inn and island while being blackmailed as a child goes missing. Alice needs to make decisions more according to which the story plays out.
Mystery at the Inn
This is the most I can say about the story without any spoilers. The story from here is essentially to figure out where Hugo is while also trying to figure out why she has been called here. There are many questions, such as,
- Who called her here?
- Where is Hugo?
- Has Hugo just run away, or was he taken?
- What is going on with the haunted Inn?
So with all this in mind, Alice needs to navigate the Inn along with its inhabitants and manage while dealing with the past trauma of that old case, which is being bought up again with the titular Evidence 111 being that instigator. I would no longer spoil the story for anyone interested in it. I personally felt the story, on the whole, was fine. Not the worst mystery, but rather just competent enough that it is likely other players will have a different experience.
Gameplay – Simple to a Point
The gameplay of Evidence 111 is simple. Players hear the story as it goes along. And as there is a decision to be made, options appear on the screen, and Players need to select the option from left, right or down. It is usually only left or right, but in rare cases, there is a third option. One can also push the touch screen upwards for Alice to repeat the options. In the accessibility options, the choices are all explained through audio to help the visually impaired better. That’s all there is to the gameplay of Evidence 111. It is simple and all that is required.
Graphics and Sound
The User interface of the game is extremely simple and has one of the only places where we see the art from the game other than the promos. This is one of the issues the game faces, the lack of any art while one plays the game kinda shorts it. I understand the fact that this is a complete audio experience. But as one plays through the game, they are already required to watch the screen (if not visually impaired). So the addition of different art behind the choices depending on where the characters are would be an excellent addition. But I understand the reasoning for for not including it.
Audio and Voice Acting
This is where I normally talk about the graphics of the game, but the game is entirely audio based. So this is where the game excels, the audio design. The background music and ambience convey the scene’s mood well. But that’s just part of it; The voice acting is excellent, and almost all of the game’s cast is damn good. Alice, as mentioned, is voiced damn well by Zoe Robins. But the stand-out performances are by Rosamund Pike as Adele Keswille and Richard Reed as Reverend Timothy McCarthy. Rosamund Pike, as Adele, plays the part of a distressed mother expertly. While Richard Reed is so interesting as he tries at first to reason with Alice, who has no time for him, it is more subtle and good. Zoe Robins, as Alice, is also pretty good, but I think in the different choices, she is better as the hard-jaded cop than the young cheery one. Luckily we spend way more time with older Alice.
Overall, the pretty generic story is elevated by good voice acting throughout. They are all distinct in their own ways, which helps while playing the game and making choices.
The key for Evidence 111 was provided by PR Outreach.