Review: January Edwards: PI – The Accountant’s Affair

Review: January Edwards: PI – The Accountant’s Affair

January Edwards: PI is an episodic visual novel series in development by AmesyFlo. Take control of private investigator January Edwards as she tries to solve an infidelity case with her quirky assistant Fern in the first episode of the series, The Accountant’s Affair.

An advance copy of January Edwards: PI – The Accountant’s Affair was provided to us via the VN Game Den review request form.

The first episode of the series has an hour of playtime. It encompasses a single case that Ms. Edwards has to solve. You get to question your client as you see fit, not only earning you information but showcasing the game’s leading ladies. Fern and January are both well-thought-out characters with distinct personalities. January is more focused and serious, while Fern takes a relaxed but effective approach to investigating.

The dialogue is one of the game’s shining points. Every character, even the client who shows up for only a few brief moments, feels very real and distinct. It’s because of this very reason that I’m disappointed by the length of the first episode. It left me wanting more. There was not enough time spent with the conflict, and good dialogue can only propel a story so far. Especially a detective tale.

The case is solved almost too quickly and with minimal player effort. Most of the clues are found through dialogue, not in interrogating possible suspects or investigating locations. The puzzles aren’t engaging, and if you fail in solving them, you’ll have to go through the entire dialogue again. The way the information is handed to us leaves the eventual resolution of the case feeling empty.

I found January’s personal conflict with her past more intriguing than the infidelity case itself, but it feels as if this was left as an afterthought, tacked on at the end of the story. As the game is episodic, though, this could easily be remedied in the next release. Perhaps there will be a better way to connect the cases and January’s personal narrative so that the two don’t feel like two completely separate stories. 

The game features partial voice acting. It can be a bit repetitive sometimes. A voice plays every few lines, which wouldn’t really be a problem if the pool of voiced lines being drawn from weren’t so limited. Adding more variation or committing to full voice acting would benefit the game. Ignoring that, the characters are well-cast and their voices really bring them to life.

The game’s art is attractive. The sprites have a unique style and there are plenty of extra graphics that help illustrate the narrative. The GUI and backgrounds are the icing on top, tying in the whole aesthetic. I really enjoyed seeing the chapter title images as the story progressed as well. 

January Edwards: PI – The Accountant’s Affair plays more like a demo than a full game, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out. While the story could use more fleshing out, the concept is an intriguing one and the characters have a lot of heart. This is only the first episode, so who knows what the developers have in store for us in 2021?

You can get January Edwards: PI – The Accountant’s Affair on itch.io.

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