- - 6.8/106.8/10
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? does an efficient job of blending the good and bad aspects of FMV video games. Witty dialogue, off the cuff humor and a variety of choices allow it to flow right in its wheel house.
Developer: Wales Interactive
Release Date: March 18, 2022
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation, PC Steam, Switch, Mobile (Ios and Android)
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? is the latest title by Wales Interactive. It’s a live-action, FMV murder mystery, and you are tasked to find out what happened. We play as Abby, (Abigail Hardingham) the niece of Uncle Marcus’ (played by Andy Buckley, who starred as the CFO in The Office) and have just been given a bombshell piece of information: There’s a killer in our family. Every year, the family gets together for a fun, online trivia quiz for your mom’s birthday. Just before we are about to log on, Abby gets a video call from Uncle Marcus who gives her the bad news. Abby wasn’t able to make the most recent family meeting, but Uncle Marcus tells her that someone in the family poisoned him at some point in the night. Uncle Marcus doesn’t have much time left and says it’s up to us to figure out who did it. Abby will need to balance navigating her way through mom’s birthday quiz and interrogating her family member teammates while doing so. Hopefully, for Marcus’ sake, we’ll be able to find the poison, antidote and the killer in time.
Wales Interactive is no stranger to interactive movies. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? is set up similar to Five Dates with everyone involved in a separate, remote location. If you’re unfamiliar with the setup, picture playing a video game crossover between Tim Curry’s Clue and Rian Johnson’s Netflix mystery hit Knives Out. Everyone in the family has some crazy secret, and the game is set up in a way to let us experience all of them.
The trivia quiz is played in teams, and there are seven people involved. One person asks the questions and the other six pair off. You’ll have to carefully blend asking about the meeting and answering the questions. Answers given are determined by what on screen choices we pick during the prompts. There is a time limit of only several seconds per question, but luckily Wales Interactive has included a streamer mode. If you plan on streaming, or simply want to take your time, streamer mode allows you unlimited time to make your choices.
Each round consists of three or four questions from each family member. We are given the opportunity to review our progress at the end of each round and see how much of the evidence we were able to uncover. Each family member has a different amount of “evidence” toward another person. The game lasts a total of four rounds, at which point we are forced to make a decision. We can accuse someone if we uncovered enough evidence. We’ll either find the killer or learn some quirky, hysterical secret for the wrongly accused family member. Each secret is based upon the family members’ persona, and they are all over the top hysterical. Robbie Kay (Peter Pan – Once Upon a Time, Heroes Reborn) plays our emo recluse cousin Bradley who’s obsessed with death. Georgia Small (Five Dates) is our shallow, stuck-up, promiscuous sister Lottie. Susannah Doyle (Black Mirror) is our lush, drunk Auntie June while Al Weaver (The Complex) plays our other cousin Toby, who is an arrogant, self-posturing narcissist.
A standout of Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? is the seamlessness in which the variety of these personalities blend together. During each round of the game, we’ll get a chance to pick one of three family members we want to play with. Now, while mom asks the questions, we may have a choice between Bradley, Toby or Lottie. On the other hand, we may have to choose between mom, Auntie June or our nana when Lottie asks the questions. Not only will we get different evidence for different people depending on who our teammate is, but we’re also treated to a hysterical interaction between the other family members. Nana may intercede to stop the bickering between mom and her sister, or Auntie June may drunkenly carry on about what a burden your two cousins are. At one point, mom even carries on about how “dried up down there” your aunt is. In fact, the insults in the game along with the witty dialogue were my favorite parts. It’s reminiscent of the movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer.
Uncle Marcus has a video game boss style health bar that slowly ticks down in the top of the screen as we play. Once we get to round 4, he’ll tell us time is almost up and that we’ll have to make a decision on who we think the killer is. It takes about 45 minutes to play through the first time. You can replay whether you choose the correct person or not, and the game lets us hold onto the evidence we’ve uncovered and build it up as we play on. The game does a good job of accentuating its interesting parts while minimizing the tedious ones that are inherent with live action games and multiple playthroughs: repeated scenes. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus allows us to skip any scenes we’ve previously watched. This is a god send as it allows us to knock the time down to around 10 or 15 minutes a playthrough.
The tricky part is that some pieces of evidence can only be obtained by selecting one specific set of answers. With each round allowing for a possibility of over 8 combinations, it can get difficult to manage which choices you’ve already made. The humorous banter along with back and forth insults allow the time to flow steadily, but frustration of picking different choices yet not getting the needed evidence tended to creep into the gameplay at certain points. I’ve played a lot of FMV video games, and Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? does an efficient job of blending everything together in a way that allows you to feel that you’re actually watching a movie opposed to playing a game.
Messing up and picking the wrong killer doesn’t impact gameplay and only slightly gives the feeling of dragging on. I was fortunate enough to pick the correct family member I thought was the killer on my first playthrough, but unfortunate enough to not get the evidence needed to accuse them. Even after wrongly accusing the first five family members, I still had to play for about two hours, which came down to about 15 more play throughs, in order to find the one piece of evidence I needed from the correct combination of choices.
All things considered, I spent a total of about 5 hours playing and was able to unlock all 17 of the achievements. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? does a good job of emphasizing its uniqueness and humor. While it also decently negates the negative impact of the typical downfalls that FMV games tend to experience, the lack of any gameplay with 100% live action can become slightly frustrating.
I definitely recommend taking a stab (no pun intended) at playing Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? as it’s available now on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, PC and mobile.