The Walsingham Files – Chapter 1 Review

The Walsingham Files – Chapter 1 is a free story-based detective game. The player is given no hints or in-game notepad and told at the start of the game to take their own notes and keep a calculator handy. The game aims to emulate the experience of being a detective without any hand holding.

Format: PC via Steam
First playthrough time: 3 hours

Camp ground with a welcome sign. Blood covers the first tent and two corpses lay next to the fire pit.
Released March 25th, 2019 by Sapphire Dragon Productions

Quick Overview

Major Pros:

  • Take your own notes
  • No hand holding or hints
Major Cons:

  • Only the first chapter
Minor Pros:

  • Many characters
  • Complex story
Minor Cons:

  • Lots of leg work
Man #1: Look, you can't deny it any more, commander! Just tell me the bloody truth!
The mystery deepens…

In-depth Review

In The Walsingham Files the player is expected to take their own notes. There is no hint system or indication of what areas can eventually be accessed. The game predominantly focuses on character dialog and key information is hidden across multiple conversations. If the player fails to take notes, there’s no way to rewind or review dialog, so the pressure to pay attention feels real. Like a real detective, there’s also a lot of leg work required. I personally could’ve done with less running around, but it fits with the authentic feel of the game.

Two women crossing a crosswalk during the day.
Traveling the town can take up a lot of time, especially if the player gets stuck

The world in The Walsingham Files feels well fleshed out with a multitude of characters. Each character had a personality and backstory, and I was pleased by their diversity. Most characters are mentioned before you meet them, so it’s handy to keep information on what is known about people before they show up. The story is fairly complex and builds up to a deep mystery with multiple facets. I’m curious to see how all the different, seemingly unrelated, threads tie together.

Two women stand at a computer in a small building with a man behind a counter. Also behind the counter is a large door with a keypad.
Information on characters can be accessed in the public records

Unfortunately, only the first chapter of The Walsingham Files has been released. Sapphire Dragon Productions’ prior game Silver Creek Falls takes place before the events of The Walsingham Files, for players that are interested in the series. No release date for the next chapter has been given at this time.

Police station entry way. Dialog text reads: Hello and welcome to The Walsingham Files, the sequel to the Silver Creek Falls series.
There are several references in the dialog to the prior game

Recommendation

Overall, I enjoyed the authentic challenging feel of The Walsingham Files. The story and characters are interesting. The manual note taking won’t be for everyone though, I personally went overboard with around 8 pages of fragmented trivia. I think more of the heart of the mystery solving will be in the later chapters, whenever they’re released. Mystery fans looking for a challenge should definitely give The Walsingham Files a try, but those that hate cliffhangers should wait until the other chapters are available.

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