The Painscreek Killings is a video game that is available on Microsoft Windows (Steam). It was developed by EQ Studios and released on September 27, 2017.
The Painscreek Killings follows a journalist named Jane as she investigates a murder mystery in the small town of Painscreek. The town has been abandoned, and you must try to solve the mystery before it is auctioned off. A woman named Vivian Roberts, a philanthropist, was found murdered outside of her home, and afterwards, people in the town began dying. Jane's goal in the game is to collect evidence in order to put together a cohesive story to present to her boss and get a front-page article in the newspaper.
In the beginning of the game, you start off by driving into the town and stopping just outside the gates. You see a small sheriff station and notice a note outside. At this point, there are prompts telling you that the note may be important. You can take a picture of the note with your camera so you can look at the photo later. The camera ends up being one of the most important tools you have, so use it often. If content is not recorded in your journal (there will be a prompt after you pick a note or diary up that says "Content Recorded"), I strongly recommend that you take a picture of it. You can always delete photos later, and the storage for photos is unlimited, so I found it to be an important tool.
Once you go into the sheriff station, you can turn lights on and off in some areas, and can search rooms. Maps are important, so always pick those up, and keys and notes become important as well. I found that you have to zoom in on a lot of areas to see details well, so make sure you are consistently zooming in so you don't miss any keys, notes, or diaries. There are messages on answering machines as well, so check any electronics you see.
Once you have all you need from the sheriff station, you can enter the town. Locks are another main component of the game, and I found that it is a lot easier to unlock any locks if you zoom in first. After you enter the town, you are basically on your own, as there are no prompts to tell you where to start; it's all exploration and no hints are given aside from notes, messages, and diaries that you find.
Did I like this game? Why or why not?
I both liked and disliked this game. I liked this game because I thought the story was good. I like solving mysteries and feeling like a detective, and I thought that the story was original, creative, and well-written (aside from some spelling and grammatical errors, but the developers are working on fixing them). I liked being able to interact with items, take pictures, and put the puzzle pieces together. I like that the developers obviously care about the game, as they are always working on patches, fixes, and provide updates on Steam.
(Looking at the negative reviews on Steam, it's obvious to me that the developers are able to take criticism and use it to improve the game. There are so many developers that don't seem to care about their customers, but it's obvious to me that EQ Studios does care, and I am glad to see improvements in the game as they receive feedback.)
What I didn't like about the game was having to zoom in on everything because I felt like the perspective of Jane was way too high from the ground. It made me feel like she was eight feet tall, and having to zoom in on everything got annoying after a while.
Another thing I really didn't like was that there was absolutely no hints when I got stuck. I do realize that the game developers wanted to make a game where you have to solve a mystery yourself because in real life, if you were investigating by yourself, you wouldn't have hints, but it was honestly overwhelming for me at times to not have any idea what to do next. I wish that there had been an option to get a hint if I really needed one.
If the developers had an option where you could turn hints on or off, so some people could play the game the developers intended, and others could play a game where they could get help if they needed it, I feel that the option of hints would make the game so much better. Not knowing what to do made me want to quit, even though I liked the story a lot.
Would I play this again?
I would play this again in the future. I would make sure to take a ton of photographs and write down all of the places I visited and what I found there, because that makes the game a lot easier. It's so open world that it's easy to forget where you've been.
I kind of wish there was a map like in the Silent Hill games, where areas you've been to have been are marked off, and areas where you still haven't solved the puzzles are circled. Since there isn't an option for that though, I think writing down where I've been and what I found (what doors won't open, what keys I haven't found, etc.) would make it a lot easier for me the second time around.
I think the game is improving as the developers work on it, and I think the game play will continue to improve in the future.
If you need help, here are some tips:
1. As I said above, use your camera all the time. Try to take photographs of everything, even if it seems insignificant at the time, or you think you'll remember it, take a photograph. You can delete photos later if you don't need them. Not only can you take photographs of documents, you can also take photographs of rooms, objects, and outside areas, so if you feel something may be important, take a picture of it.
2. Write down where you visited, what you collected in that location, and what doors you unlocked, what doors were locked and where they were locked. Write down addresses, street names, place names, dates, names, birth dates, numbers that seem like codes, etc. I think if I had done this from the beginning, it would have made the game so much easier for me.
3. Zoom in on everything. It's so easy to miss objects and small details, so when you are looking around a room or specific area, zoom in and look around carefully.
4. Birth dates are important. If you find documentation of someone's birthday, write it down and keep a list of whose name and birthday you've found. They can often be used as codes, but use them in this format 00-00-00. So if the birthday was March 22, 1971, the code might be 032271.
5. Keep a list of relationships. I found that I became confused about who was related to who after a while because I was finding so many documents with names, so it might be helpful to write out a family tree or relationship tree.
6. Check common areas, like the Inn, the playground, the area near the playground (go past the playground and down the path, and you'll see a small area to the right with a bush and a tree, go in there and there is an area to the left you can visit for a clue), the hospital, and the mansion where the Roberts' lived if you are stuck.
7. If you can't get into a room or an area, just know that you aren't supposed to solve a whole area at once. It's expected that you find a clue, code, or key somewhere else and need to come back later to get into an area.
8. The notes and diaries always have information on them telling you where to go next to find another clue, even if they are subtle.
9. Take breaks. This isn't a game you will solve in a few hours. It can take a long time to figure out a clue or where to go, so if you are stuck and are feeling frustrated, take a break. This might be a game that takes you over a week or two to finish, so give yourself time to enjoy it.
10. Play with a friend or family member. If you play with another person or several people, you can help each other figure out clues and think of where to go next.
11. If you are really stuck, here is a web site that has both hints and spoilers if you need them (both are covered by black bars, so if you just want hints, you can get those without the game being ruined):
I hope this helps you figure out if you'd like to buy this game, or if you've already bought it, decide how to play it and get hints or spoilers if you are stuck. This is a fun game, but is meant to take a while to play. Go slowly, take your time, take notes, take pictures, and have fun. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.