Over the past week I made it through this RPG Maker game, The Boogie Man. It’s the story of a detective, trapped inside a castle and hunting down a madman who has taken the residents of the castle tour (of which he was a part of along with his wife,) captive.
The story is really interesting and, in the beginning, was well-thought-out. Our madman, the titular “Boogie Man,” is a genuinely warped individual with a thirst for chaos. He wanders around the castle, murdering and maiming people all while hunting Detective Keith Baring’s wife, Helena. Each room holds another puzzle piece that will eventually help solve the puzzle of who exactly the Boogie Man is, and flowing dialogue, atmospheric music and original artwork help make to make the game intriguing. It certainly held my interest until the very end, and exceeded my expectations, considering the fact that it’s free.
Now, for a free game, The Boogie Man is incredible: there’s a story, changing gameplay mechanics, and so much dialogue. I would recommend it if you’re bored and want to play something creepy, but without jumpscares. There are some cons to it, though, and this is where spoilers begin.
The beginning of the story was good. Detective Keith Baring and his wife, Helena, who suffer a strained relationship due to a past tragedy, decide to holiday at this random castle that they get free tickets to tour courtesy of Dick, who is Keith’s supervisor.
So Keith wakes up in the middle of the night and realizes that Helena is gone, and then after a few cutscenes and some wandering around the castle, is introduced to the main antagonist: Boogie Man. He chases Boogie Man around the castle for the next six hours or however long it takes you to complete the game, and through various hints you start to guess who Boogie Man might be: is it one of the hostages? Is it Dick? Is it Eric, the clumsy subordinate? But no, in the end, it turns out that the Boogie Man is… Brendon. The castle’s proprietor and the guy who started the tours. He’s the first victim but haha, surprise, he actually destroyed a doll that looked like him. I admit that the unmasking threw me off, not only for that reason but also because Brendon has literally no motivation to antagonize Keith Baring. What was he trying to do? Build a reputation for the castle? No, there’s no motivation at all. This is even commented on by Dick in the epilogue, when he states the same confusion over Brendon’s missing motivation. I think that it’s supposed to be assumed that he’s just crazy, but… why? It felt like a cop-out. They tried to play up a Batman-Joker relationship between Keith and Boogie, but it didn’t work out.
This game also features a lot of voice acting, which might be your thing, but is certainly not mine. I like voice acting in games like Bioshock, Batman, Brothers, you know, ones made professionally. It was a little weird playing an RPG that had voices for their characters. I got used to it after the first few hours: Keith’s voice actor, only identified by the pseudonym “Neon,” did a pretty good job. So did the other voice actors. The only one who irritated me to no end was the voice of Helena, who might have also been the voice of Tod Baring, their son. I could not stand her. She had this very soft, breathy, high-pitched voice which almost convinced me to mute the entire game, which would have been a pity because the soundtrack is pretty great. I wish there was a way to turn off the voices. Boogie Man’s voice was really good, too. I think he was the only one that was actually convincing, whose voice fit their character. Everyone else felt slightly disjointed.
Speaking of the characters, they aren’t super well thought-out, but you become reasonably attached to most of them. Keith especially, since you play as him. There’s also the slimy ex-reporter, Lance, the father and daughter duo, Richard and Sophie, and the married couple, David and Shirley. I think that David actually comes from the game The Crooked Man, which is part of the trilogy that The Boogie Man belongs to. A lot of the characters are stereotypes: Richard is the overprotective father, Sophie is the brat, Helena is the useless and hyperfeminine love interest, and Keith is the emotionless, grade A detective that has no time for your crap. The most interesting ones were probably David and Shirley, mostly because you don’t know anything about them, other than the fact that they consider themselves to be loners. Very mysterious. David’s also the only helpful one, and referred to as the “Robin to Keith’s Batman,” so he made himself a place in my heart.
The cutscenes are incredibly long, but they’re fun, so that didn’t bother me too much. I think that the only other thing that really annoyed me about this game was the walking. You had to walk so much, and the castle was like a maze. It was impossible to find different rooms, and you have to run back from Point Z to Point A multiple times when searching for items/events and completing missions. Oh, I actually thought of one more thing: I’m pretty sure that there is no way to complete this game without the walkthrough. It’s hard, and a lot of the events that happen have to be triggered by super-specific things. I think I would have spent an extra six hours just walking around and trying to get something to happen if it hadn’t existed, but luckily, an official walkthrough is online.
Overall, this game is great for being free. It’s a good way to pass the time, but it’s also pretty creepy and features some rather violent methods of death, although it’s all 8-bit so I don’t know if that would bother anyone. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I’d play it again, even though there are multiple endings. I got the happy, true ending, and I’m content with that. Still, props to the creator, Uri, for putting so much time and effort into this. Here’s a link to the download file if you’re interested in trying it out: