FMV and Star Power Can’t Save Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus?
I am an admitted fan of full motion video in gaming. There’s something about breaking that fourth wall of platforming and pixel art with real people that’s always been awe inspiring to me. Lately we’ve been seeing a resurgence in the FMV genre with such games as Night Shift, The Complex, and Not for Broadcast. A majority of these games are coming from Wales Interactive, a company who specializes in bringing interactive movies and FMV games. Their track record so far has been hit or miss and the same can be said of this entry into the genre.
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? begins as a “whodunit” style murder mystery but in the age of Covid, performed all via online video call. You are Abby, a member of a large extended family that comes with a fair share of drama and conflict (something I deeply identify with.) In this case, it’s time for the yearly family quiz where family members make up quizzes to celebrate Abby’s mother’s birthday —except this time it starts a little differently.
Before her family call, Abby gets a separate call from her Uncle Marcus. As it turns out, Abby had missed a family meeting that resulted in a now poisoned Marcus on his deathbed. Your job is to continue with the family quiz games all the while interacting and gathering as much information as possible to find out who poisoned Uncle Marcus and save him before his time runs out. It’s a bit of an eyerolling premise that leans into the cheesiness
One thing is for sure with this game, Wales Interactive brought the star power. We have Uncle Marcus played by Andy Buckley whom most may know from The Office or Jurassic World. The supporting cast also comes from Black Mirror, The Missing, Once Upon a TIme and a whole host of other shows. While the cast is impressive, they aren’t able to save what ends up being a cartoonish over the top script. The actors are tasked with acting out these incredibly dramatic events to the point of becoming caricatures of actual people.
Uncle Marcus plays up his sickness like someone who wants to play hooky from school and the rest of the cast act like full-of-themselves 12 year olds throwing tantrums. Despite the poor writing, the concept and conversations are intriguing, with secrecy that ends up drawing you in. The information you collect through talking with your family is catalogued so by the end of the short run time, I still hadn’t solved this thrilling caper, so I instantly restarted without a second thought. It’s deceptive with its slightly addictive qualities, but unfortunately that love affair was short lived.
Considering the nature of conversations, it’s possible to miss key pieces of data and replaying is an exciting chance to get more information out of other family members you may have not had the opportunity of grilling. Sadly though, I found myself on playthrough number 4, sitting through repeated convos because I wanted to get to the second act and talk to my cousin again. There’s a good amount of replay value here but even that ends up getting repetitive when you can’t skip acts to go right into 2nd or 3rd act interview opportunities. If only there was a way to bookmark spots or chapter jump, but for now the game settles on a fast forward skip convo button that doesn’t do as much leg work as it should.
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? is a zany conversation puzzle that draws you in with an enigmatic story of a family murder plot to take back the family business. Regrettably it falls flat to eye rolling stereotypes, bored performances and a repetitive nature that has you begging for a chapter select. I applaud the devs on putting together what feels like a unique spin on the FMV genre, but this one could have used a little more passion in the production side to make it a tad more believable. It still doesn’t detract me from FMV games and this would still be great at a party, but if you’re looking for the diamond in the rough, this may not be the shiniest one of the bunch.
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? is available now for PC via Steam.
A Steam key was provided to us for the purposes of this review.