From the moment it was revealed at the Xbox Showcase last year, I was all in on The Last Case of Benedict Fox. The eerie atmosphere, the Metroidvania-style gameplay, the sense of mystery, the startling Lovecraftian vibe… everything about it screamed ‘play me’, and now, I’ve finally had the chance to. And you know what? I really enjoyed it, even if it didn’t quite meet all the expectations I had of it.
Check out some screenshots down below:
The Last Case of Benedict Fox tells the story of the titular Benedict Fox, a detective that has found themselves bound to a demon companion that joins him on his cases. This time around he’s investigating something a little closer to home in the death of his father, but the suspicious circumstances surrounding his demise ensure the tale takes plenty of ghastly twists and turns. Benedict’s demon buddy has the unique ability to allow him to venture into the Limbo realm found within a corpse too, allowing Benedict to take a closer look at the mysterious circumstances surrounding the deceased’s life – albeit with risk, since this realm also homes grotesque creatures that aren’t so welcoming to visitors…
There’s a lot more going on than that alone, and it certainly helps set a unique tone within The Last Case of Benedict Fox. Between the setting, the mysteries that unfold, and the characters you meet, there’s plenty to invest yourself in, whilst the darker vibe of the experience was certainly in my wheelhouse. I really enjoyed the narrative, and whilst some aspects can get a little bit silly, it felt befitting of the madness found within the game’s world.
Fortunately, Benedict is well equipped to deal with these perils, with him not only nimble at running and jumping around, but also a dab hand in combat. Players can mash out melee attacks to deal with enemies or use a pistol to keep them at range, whilst there’s also a parry system in play that allows you to counterattack enemies when on the defensive. Whilst foes can be tricky to handle at first, the parry system is generous in that it leaves you plenty of time to respond, so it’s rare you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a rough beating in one-on-one situations.
“It’s a satisfying change of pace to the more action-orientated sections, and I’d argue that the puzzles showcase some of the game’s greatest strengths. The variety and creativity they offer is very impressive and delivers something different to the norm of the Metroidvania genre.”
It’s alright, though it does have some annoying quirks. Not only can battling get a little repetitive over time due to its simplicity, but it can be a nightmare when facing off against multiple enemies and not being able parry their attacks in succession, forcing you into taking damage. It’s not a skill issue, I promise! You even leave yourself vulnerable when performing your special finisher move, which can be especially frustrating given that the 2D plane and overwhelming enemies mean there’s not always a lot of space or time to plan out using it.
Combat does get spiced up with the use of your Demon’s abilities though, with it eventually able to help deflect enemy attacks, launch enemies away from you, or even slam enemies into the ground, just to name a few. It adds a bit more depth and excitement to combat that’s missing when simply unleashing combos as Benedict, so it’s certainly worth finding the Ink that’s scattered across the world to continually improve the Demon’s skillset. They don’t fix some of the obvious issues, but they do help you feel less vulnerable when in a fix.
Thankfully, exploration is a lot more rewarding than combat, with plenty of mysterious and creepy sights to discover when uncovering the game’s enigmatic world. There’s a big emphasis on puzzle-solving too, with Benedict having to utilise the items and clues he finds in the environment in order to figure out each enigma he comes across. It ensures that The Last Case of Benedict Fox’s exploration focuses on more than just platforming, with players having to study their surroundings, pay close attention, and even use a bit of logic in order to overcome the obstacles in their path. It’s a satisfying change of pace to the more action-orientated sections, and I’d argue that the puzzles showcase some of the game’s greatest strengths. The variety and creativity they offer is very impressive and delivers something different to the norm of the Metroidvania genre.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It helps that the world itself is wonderful to be a part of… you know… in that twisted and sinister kind of way. Everything in the game looks wonderful, whether that’s when exploring the likes of the eerie mansion that homes plenty of dark secrets, or when scavenging through the remains of the deceased’s existence when in Limbo. There are some mesmerising things to see that bend the rules of reality, whilst the visual effects and lighting help strengthen the foreboding atmosphere that makes the whole game feel so unnerving. It’s really good stuff.
One thing I really appreciated when starting The Last Case of Benedict Fox was that it let me finetune the experience to my needs. Now I’m not saying I need an easy difficulty and I certainly didn’t decrease the challenge of combat, but being able to streamline exploration to leave markers and make it clear if I was missing anything when exploring an area? Now that I loved, especially since the game offers a maze-like map where it’s easy to get lost. Of course, everything is optional, so you don’t have to play with a helping hand if you don’t want to, but these accessible options did make the experience more enjoyable for myself (and perhaps those who can find the exploration of Metroidvania-style titles overwhelming).
The Last Case of Benedict Fox Review
The Last Case of Benedict Fox isn’t perfect, but the excellent puzzle design and sinister yet beautiful world certainly help it shine. It’s just a shame that the combat mechanics let it down, and whilst they’re not necessarily bad, they did get a little repetitive and made for some frustrating moments.
Still, they didn’t stop me from really enjoying my time playing the game, with the strong points certainly outweighing those that let it down. And sure, it could have done with a bit of sprucing up here and there, but The Last Case of Benedict Fox’s certainly kept me hooked into its twisted yet wonderful world.
Developer: Plot Twist
Publisher: Rogue Games
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed),Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One