Bell Park, Youth Detective

By Brendan Patrick Hennessey (Twine; IFDB; play here)

Twelve-year-old Bell Park, Youth Detective, gets in over her head when she’s called to investigate a murder at a tech conference. What starts out as a favour for a friend to keep things low-key quickly becomes much stranger.

I admit that I played this game after playing Birdland because I wanted to see more of Bell Park. In Birdland, Bell is sharp and witty, yet often the outsider amongst her peers. In Bell Park, Youth Detective, Bell is an outsider in different ways, as a child amongst adults. Her voice is distinctive as ever, with a mixture of irreverence and uncertainty. Here, Bell is much less confident than she is in Birdland: she openly admits to guessing; she hestitates

The writing was colourful and conversational. Descriptions are made from a brutally honest point of view, which is fun to read.

Bell Park, Youth Detective hints that you shouldn’t be taking it all too seriously, with names like Argent Sunflower and clueless event organisers. Even the way each NPC speaks is hugely exaggerated. I still found it hard to suspend disbelief in the final plot reveal, which felt, ironically, like the product of a bright kid’s imagination. What was I expecting? I’m not sure. Maybe an adult crime, something which would fit in with the grimness of a dead body. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Maybe I was being too strait-laced. Nonetheless, it took me about half an hour to click through, and it’s not a bad piece of writing at all.

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