Published on June 2nd, 2023 | by Gareth Newnham

The Case of the Golden Idol (Switch) Review

The Case of the Golden Idol (Switch) Review Gareth Newnham

Summary: Curse of the Golden Idol is a game that every would-be detective and Sherlock Holmes fan needs to play.


Murder most horrid

The Case of the Golden Idol is the sort of Sherlockian adventure game I wish there were more of. 

With a plot that feels like a dystopian retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Six Napoleons; the question asked is a simple one; is the idol cursed, or are the kind of men drawn to its power just happy to resort to murder to achieve their own devious ends? Maybe both. The Case of The Golden Idol never explicitly falls one way or another. 


But as an omniscient detective, it’s your job to piece together the series of shocking events that lead to a string of brutal murders in Colour Gray Games’ captivating whodunnit set during the age of Enlightenment. 

Uncovered by a pair of explorers, which, unsurprisingly ends with one of them being thrown off a cliff, the golden idol seems to court catastrophe wherever it goes. It’s your job to unravel a series of unfortunate (and deadly) events surrounding the mysterious artefact 

Each case is presented to you as a tableau that shows the moment or immediate aftermath of a murder. It’s then up to you to rifle through the suspects’ pockets, cut through the noise and use all of your deductive reasoning to piece together who each of the players are in each scene and the series of events that lead to this heinous crime. In order to do this you collect dozens of keywords that are found in documents, descriptions of objects, and testimonies from the suspects. These are then used to fill in the blanks in your notebook to reveal what happened and how it came to pass. 

It’s an incredibly elegant system and the kind of innovative gameplay that has become rare in video games, especially in a genre as heavily codified as adventure games have become. There’s no combining x with y to resolve z here. Just a whole lot of deductive reasoning, and occasional trial and error. The result though is a game that rewards an eye for details and makes you feel incredibly clever when you manage to see through one of the game’s many red herrings.

The presentation is also incredibly charming, like the recently released Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun, The Case of the Golden Idol revels in recreating a style from a bygone era, using a graphical style reminiscent of early Sierra adventure games from the late 80s and early 90s. It’s not a pretty game, but it is incredibly charming, and the amount of emotion conveyed with a limited palette and minimal animation is still impressive. Likewise, the game’s moody score does a superb job of conveying tone and helping each static scene feel all the more emotive as a result.  

Now on the Switch, this edition of the game features a reworked UI to make it easier to play n consoles. On the TV it works pretty well selection via either the cursor controlled by the analogue stick or by flicking between your options using the L and R buttons. Handheld mode also features touchscreen controls. But weirdly, despite being the most direct input method available by simply tapping the word you want and then where you want to put it, I couldn’t get on with them. Thankfully you can still use the button controls if you prefer. 

The one huge benefit of the switch port though is that you can now pick up and play a little more of the story at your leisure and then go away and muse over it. Making it the perfect lunch break or commuting game, since you can stop at any time when you want. ( Like when you realise you are about to miss your stop.) 

The Spider of Lanka

Also, available either as a separate DLC pack or as part of a bundle (get the bundle, trust me) is The Spider of Lanka. A prequel to the events of the main game, this trio of additional cases sees players whisked to the fictional country of Lanka, and tasked with unfurling the machinations of the Spider of Lanka, a powerful figure manipulating and pulling at the strings of power in the region.

Although there are only three scenes to deconstruct here, they are by far some of the most difficult and complex in the entire game, this really is a Lost Levels-type affair, so I would recommend playing through the main game first, not only so you have a solid grasp of the mechanics, but also for those oh, that guy moments.      

Final Thoughts

The Case of the Golden Idol is a game every Holmes fan and would-be detective should check out. Its narrative is winding and captivating, the mechanics are tight and the presentation will make long-time adventure game fans smile in delight. It’s elementary, The Case of the Golden Idol is one line of inquiry well worth following to the end. 

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