Before the lockdowns of 2020, only a few people had heard of a thing called Zoom. The idea of remote working from home, meetings, and conference calls were a forum for high business folk, not us mere mortals. But as the pandemic hit, Zoom took off; the social side with Zoom parties and dinners around your screens. The Zoom family quiz was a particular highlight and caused many a remote argument – and hilarity in equal measure. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? from the prolific Wales Interactive is another FMV game, one that delves into those online family quizzes but also adds in the darker undertones and elements of murder.
The FMV game is a genre that holds a fond place in my heart. I love storytelling, characters, and the “Choose Your Own Adventure” format that they work with. Over lockdown, Wales Interactive didn’t rest on their laurels but produced a game filmed on location in the homes of various actors, accompanied only by a camera. Night Book was the first of these games, but now we also have Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus?.
The premise is a good one. You play through the world of one character – Abby – played by the very excellent Abigail Hardingham. There is an online family quiz about to start, but before this all kicks in Abby gets a Zoom call from her Uncle Marcus. He informs her that he has been poisoned by one of the six family members she’s about to do the quiz with. Abby then has to work out who has poisoned her uncle – and with what – so that she can get an antidote. There is a timer in the corner of the screen showing the time left before her uncle’s health declines, and it’s running out fast.
The other family members are a delightful bunch of strange and familiar characters. There is the mum whose birthday it is; full of her own self-importance and worth. The acholic auntie is bitter and sardonic. Her children are a serial killer obsessed emo son, whilst the other is a woke environmentalist. There is also Abby’s sister who is a Z-list Instagram influencer and finally her nan who is warm and can’t get to grip with the technology. All these characters are written well and the performers do a brilliant job bringing them alive. Granted, it’s very over the top, but that’s what makes the experience fun, reminding of the film “Knives Out” a little at times, just on Zoom.
In terms of gameplay, the options – like in most FMV titles – are quite limited and consist of you making decisions between a few options. Each quiz round allows you the chance to choose which member of the family you want to team up with. Here you get to listen to them talk about themselves and you get the opportunity to interrogate them, gathering up some clues about what has happened to Uncle Marcus. As you get more clues you build up evidence and it is this which will affect the conclusions you make in the end game. All while this is happening, poor old Uncle Marcus is getting sicker and sicker and time is running out.
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus does require – and encourages – you to have multiple playthroughs to see who the real killer is. It’s the first game of this type in that you will really want to dive back in to find out the truth; rather than normally just taking in a different ending. The only problem that comes with this is that you can’t skip forward through older scenes that you’ve watched, so it can become a bit tiresome on something like the third playthrough. But otherwise, this hunger to find the truth is a great way to incorporate multiple playthroughs.
This is a game that was filmed over lockdown in London and Los Angeles where the actors had a camera sent to them to film. In that regard – with the setup being a Zoom call – it works well and the menu design is fun and nicely designed. I enjoyed all the performances from the actors who seem to be having a lot of fun, camping it up at times to great effect. They sell the premise brilliantly and without them, it could fall a bit flat.
What this means is that Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? is another Wales Interactive FMV game that is hugely enjoyable, especially in the way they have worked with the constraints of filming, inspired by it to give the situation the characters are in some form of context. The actors are funny, committed, and interesting throughout, ensuring that you’ll want to take in a few playthroughs of the game. I think the gameplay options themselves are quite basic though and this could have really done with an option to skip scenes that have previously played out.
On the whole though, if you are a fan of the FMV scene, then this is another great one to add to the ever-growing collection.
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? can be downloaded from the Xbox Store
- Great story and characters
- Encourages multiple playthroughs
- Menu design is neat
- Can't skip previous scenes
- Gameplay options are very simple
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Wales Interactive
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC, Switch
- Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date - 18 Mar 2022
- Launch price from - £9.99