Do you remember Carmen Sandiego? We’re talking about the video games, rather than the books and TV series that followed. They were mid-1980s ‘infotainment’ games, where you chased down the titular thief by following the clues that she left behind. Those clues were often hints towards a location or historical event, and you had to do real-world, actual research to find out where she might have gone. You know, with encyclopedias and things. Good times.
Following a successful Kickstarter, Chinatown Detective Agency is looking to capture the spirit of Carmen Sandiego. But rather than deliver a game that is aimed at kids, it’s squarely positioned at those players who might be old enough to remember when the first Sandiego games came out. This is a mature take on a genre that we like to call ‘the real-world researcher’, and it’s out now on Xbox (including a day-one launch on Game Pass), Switch and PC.
Chinatown Detective Agency focuses on the first moments of a new business. You play Amira, who has just started a private investigation business having left the police force. She starts off with some low-stakes cases, including finding homes for long-lost artefacts, but soon gets swept up in some global conspiracies that threaten harm to thousands.
Along the way, she has to manage her growing business. The cases bring in cash, which allows Amira to rent larger premises and bring in some help. There’s a balance, as you can unlock hints and solutions for cash, but that throttles your ability to expand your P.I. empire.
We had the privilege of playing Chinatown Detective Agency, and can heartily recommend it if the idea of playing a video game with a search engine and notebook at the ready appeals. It blurs the lines between video game and researching, and that’s not something you get to say every day. And if you remember Carmen Sandiego? Well, you were probably bought into this from the first paragraph.
Key game features include:
- UNRAVEL A GLOBAL CONSPIRACY – Travel the globe from your base in Singapore in search of leads, and talk with dozens of uniquely voiced characters each with their own mysterious agendas.
- BECOME THE INVESTIGATOR – The mysteries of Chinatown Detective Agency require real-world investigation. You’re not just playing a detective, you’re becoming one.
- WORK SMART – Time is money, and the clock is always ticking. Make good use of the time you have and to keep your agency, and yourself, alive.
- ASSEMBLE A TEAM – You’re going to need assistance. To succeed in investigating cases and solving mysteries, you’ll have to keep your business running and your staff happy.
- LOSE YOURSELF IN THE FUTURE – Neon lamp-light reflected in pools of rainwater. Anti-government graffiti daubed across aging subways. The encroaching murk of riverside London.
With a day-one launch on Game Pass, there are few barriers to enjoying this. And considering that guides and walkthroughs are only going to lessen the experience, we would advise that you play this now.
Chinatown Detective Agency is out now on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S from the Xbox Store for £20.99. It’s also out on Game Pass, Switch and PC.
Midnight in Singapore. Your contact’s a no show, your client wants answers and your empty bank balance hangs over you like a neon-tinted Sword of Damocles. Welcome to 2037. Welcome to Chinatown Detective Agency. The world is in a state of flux as the global economy nears the nadir of its decade-long collapse. Singapore stands as a last refuge of order but even here the government struggles on the brink of chaos. That’s where you come in. You are Amira Darma, once a rising star at INTERPOL, now a freshly minted Private Investigator in the heart of Chinatown, and your first client is about to walk through your door…