W[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hat’s it like to be a private investigator in a corrupt city? I haven’t the slightest clue, but chances are it’s nothing like what is presented in Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora. And you know what? That’s totally fine, as it ends up shining due to its humorous perspective. The game stars an odd but lovely pair of PIs – one rectangular being named Emma Jones and her sidekick Franky (the cat wearing a fedora which is referred to in the game’s title). Together they must solve a variety of crimes, talk to a lot of folks, and engage in a surprising amount of platforming.

The very first thing you’re likely to notice while hoofing it around town are the visuals. This city, and everyone in it, is completely angular. At street corners you’ll see the perfectly sharp edges of rectangular buildings and sidewalks. There’s nothing soft about Jones’ beat. Stark camera angles (you can’t move it yourself) add more edge and help with the noir effect. Shadows, a slight art deco vibe, and jazzy soundtrack ensure that players fall right into the world. It’s a definite standout thanks in large part to smart atmospheric design.

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Hot Tin Roof starts out strong as you get your first case. Basically, you have to explore a crime scene, talk to witnesses, seek clues, and then share these clues with others to determine even more. Eventually you’ll figure out who it is behind the crime and get your shot at stopping them. However, the game does a lot to impede this progress. That’s because it actually is far more than a crime solving sim – it’s actually a Metroidvania too. Think the city itself is a bit big? Wait until you venture into buildings, underground, and elsewhere. There’s tons of ground to cover and poor Jones and Franky weren’t given a map.

Without one, typical Metroidvania exploration becomes a bit of a pain. Have you been somewhere before? If you can’t keep track of it internally it’s hard to know for sure, especially when areas look similar and connect in different ways. At least there are usually a few save spots around. By meandering into a restroom of all things you “save your progress” by using the toilet. Gotta love that! In any case, you’ll spend a lot of time running around, jumping, and sometimes shooting to try and discern what needs to be done next.

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Shooting is handled in its own unique way as well. You begin with a single bullet type which is good at destroying boxes, and then gain more as time progresses. Eventually you’ll be able to do things like burn flammable objects and knock yourself back to gain some air time. With that said, proper utilization of bullets requires some practice as it takes some finagling to get right. A touch that is purely stylistic in nature even lets you take out and reload every bullet separately. If you hate that just press and hold reload for a second to have it automatically refilled (just make sure to select the right bullet type first).

For most players Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora will take a while to complete due to the nature of getting lost and disoriented. That dampens the experience somewhat, because crime scene exploration and hint collection is by far the most enjoyable aspect. The writing alone would’ve been strong enough to carry the experience! In any case, those ready to join Jones and Franky on the mean streets are in for a stylish game completely unlike its peers.

Marcus Estrada
Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come.
Marcus Estrada