The reviews for The Case of the Golden Idol speak for themselves, with Polygon referring to it as “One of the best puzzle games of the year” and a journalist at PC Gamer stating she would “only wish there was a “randomise absolutely everything” button so [she] could figure it out all over again”.
Color Gray has delivered a game that has truly scratched an itch for those with a love of detective, mystery and point-and-click adventure games. Today, we sat down with Andrejs and Ernests Klavins, the Latvian brothers behind this new hit game and recent winners of the Narrative Award at the IndieCade Awards.
Were you expecting the reviews to be this overwhelmingly positive?
“We were hoping, but we weren’t expecting it!
One of the biggest fears I had was creating an amazing game that no one knew existed. This fear is something that would creep in on occasion when we were play testing during the development process, the feeling that it wasn’t going to get noticed. We knew that the dedicated audience of puzzle and detective game fans would love it, but seeing the almost universal praise the game has received has been amazing to see.”
Question: Did you know you had something special when developing the game?
“Hell yes!” said Andrejs.
“Before you start you have to have the belief that you’re going to create something special. If you don’t, then you don’t have a strong enough passion for the project.
One of our main drivers when we were developing Golden Idol, was creating a game that not only gave the player satisfaction in completing a puzzle but also satisfied them on a narrative level. We wanted the players to gradually unravel the main mystery of the game through these narrative beats and we think this is something we definitely achieved with this game.”
The art style and setting are very unique, why did you choose this?
“We went for the 18th Century because, in our minds, the 19th is a bit overused! Most 18th Century fiction is about pirates, so we wanted to try something new.
We made the conscious choice to go with pixel art because of what it invokes: a sense of nostalgia for fans of the classic point-and-click adventure games of the nineties. In terms of art style, we were really inspired by both Gustave Doré and William Hogarth, and mixing Hogarth’s traditional style with the grotesqueness of Doré’s to create our own aesthetic.”
And what about the games that inspired Golden Idol?
“One of our biggest inspirations is, of course, Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope. Although, it wasn’t just the game itself that inspired us but the lack of games in this mould that exist! Lucas made such a breakthrough with Obra Dinn and it was interesting to see that there were no followers from its success. We wanted to change that. We’re fans of these kinds of games, games that respect the player’s time and give them agency throughout the entire process, which is one of the main reasons we gravitated towards this genre.”
“This isn’t a game, but Game Maker’s Toolkit is one of our favourite YouTube channels and the host – Mark Brown – posted a video on detective games a while ago that stuck with Ernests and me. This video really inspired us as it dug into the more analytical side of detective games and what makes them good – it focuses on what we mentioned above: detective games should not waste the player’s time. The goal is to make the player feel like a real detective and to do this, the logic of the world must feel real.”
The Case of the Golden Idol is a recently released puzzle game published by Playstack and is available on Steam to buy right now! Head on over to the team’s Discord page to connect with Andrejs and Ernests and join a growing community of dedicated detectives.