The Butler Did It



Genre:   Mystery adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Draconus Games

Released:  2006

PC Requirements:   Pentium 266 or Better DirectX-Compatible, 2Mb Video Card, 32Mb RAM, 60 Mb of Free Space on Hard Drive, Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP, DirectX 5 or above, DirectX Compatible Sound Card







by Looney4Labs


Or did he?  Maybe it was the aging actress, or perhaps the gossip columnist was feeling particularly lethal last night.  But on the other hand, perchance the languid priest has something he needs to confess.  But wait, that painter seems a bit shady to me too.  So, who did it?  Only you can decide!

What is this game about?

The Butler Did It is described by its publisher, Draconus Games, as a “coffee break game” that you can play in “tens of minutes.”  Your character, Jacques-Louis Barajean, is a celebrated chief inspector with the Paris Police Department in 1929.  Barajean is famous for his almost-psychic ability to ask each person the correct question in precisely the right tone and with the exact wording needed to obtain the information he wants.  Barajean is vacationing with his friend, Col Neville Neville at Neville’s hotel in the Swiss Alps.  Looking forward to time of relaxation and renewal, Barajean instead finds murder!

The Butler Did It is all about getting to know the large cast of characters and deciding through deduction and analysis who is telling the truth, who is lying, and who is guilty.  To this end, Barajean investigates with the occasional assistance of Col Neville and/or the butler, Ursus.  He must find physical clues and interrogate witnesses who may or may not be honest.  Differentiating truth from lies is part of the process.  Barajean can, and sometimes must, choose a different attitude for his interview with each suspect.  The wrong tone results in an uncooperative witness.  Once the investigation is concluded, or once the police arrive—always at 3 pm (very punctual these Swiss police), Barajean must gather all the suspects together and point out the guilty party. 

Speaking of which, there are suspects galore!  You choose the number of guests—Low Season finds ten guests at the hotel, Standard season gives you twelve suspects, and High season yields sixteen.  Each guest has a story; Barajean discovers these stories through interaction with the individual in question and with other guests.  These characters run the gamut from the outspoken feminist to the slightly over-the-hill movie star.  They include the remorseful war hero and the rascally magician who is starting his own cult.  I learned enough about each character to allow me to lean toward guilt or innocence, but never enough to be sure of my conclusion.  Perhaps more back story on each character would have facilitated my ability to correctly solve the case.  I never felt I knew sufficient information about any character to pinpoint a motive for the murder.

What will I do to solve the murder?

Barajean must observe the characters’ attire and gather clues about them in order to successfully introduce himself.  Choosing the wrong introductory line from the eight choices given has the unfortunate result that character refuses to speak with Barajean until later.  He must also choose the correct manner to use with each person.  The correct line culminates in an interview with that person about the murder, including questions about the various clues and the other guests.  Since there is a time limit in this game, picking wrongly can become aggravating, so select wisely.  The tone Barajean uses with each person affects how forthcoming they are.  Each guest has something to say about the others.  However, often times the information that is gained conflicts with the information provided by other suspects.  This is also true of information about clues.  It is up to Barajean to sort it all out. 

Who will help me?

Barajean has two sources of aid in his investigation.  The first is Col Neville, who can open closed doors and move guests from their rooms so Barajean can search them.  Neville can also have Ursus, the butler, move furniture in the rooms to aid in said search.  

Ursus is the second source of aid to Barajean.  He spends most of his time in the butler’s hut working out in order to pursue his true profession, professional wrestling!  Ursus was with Barajean at the time of the murder so he is never a suspect.  Instead, he is a fount of information about the background of the guests, and an inspiration to couch potatoes to get moving. 

What investigative tools will I have?

A great help in the investigation is a map Barajean obtains from Col Neville.  He moves quickly around the hotel and its environs by clicking on the room he wants to investigate.  In a game with a time limit, time not spent sauntering around is precious. 

In addition, Barajean carries a notebook which is a really wonderful device.  Physical descriptions of the interviewees are automatically recorded in it (providing of course, that the inspector examines them) along with any clues they give him.  In it, Barajean notes whether he finds each clue to be True, False, Irrelevant, or Unknown.  This, in turn, affects the list of suspects in the notebook.  Each guest is listed and you can see what Barajean thinks and how many times he has talked to that guest by clicking on the name.  Very handy little feature, the notebook!

What will I hear?

The Butler Did It is mostly a game of words.  Sometimes the dialogue is quirky and humorous, other times it is simply informative, and sometimes it is neither.  The first few times through the game, the dialogue was diverting.  But after that, I only “listened” to the actual interrogations partly because I had already heard all the dialogue variations and partly to help alleviate the aggravation of the time pressure.  “Listened” because there is no spoken dialogue.  All interaction and dialogue is through subtitles and menu choices. 

I noticed no ambient sounds except for a clock which sounds the passing of time.  I learned fairly quickly to bypass this by left-clicking.  However, there is background music which changes with each setting and adds a sense of urgency to the game.  I did not find an option to turn it off, or adjust the volume. 

What will I see?

The graphics are flat and simple.  The hotel provides Barajean with a setting for his investigation.  The opening sequence is reminiscent of an old film reel with sepia tones and flickering light showing a scratchy series of pictures and providing background information via text.  I enjoyed it.  Characters’ clothing reflects their personality, and may provide a clue to that important introductory line.  Their mouths move when “talking,” though the rhythm did not seem natural. 

How will I move and save?

This is a true point and click game.  You left click to perform an action.  Right clicking rotates the possible actions between walk, talk, and examine.  Inventory items are automatically picked up once discovered, and the game is Alt+Tab friendly. 

One oddity I noticed was that my pointer icon stayed as an hourglass until I left-clicked.  At first, I waited and waited for the hourglass to go away and become a regular icon, but this never happened.  I learned to ignore it. 

There is a tutorial accessible from the main menu, and a manual which requires the internet to read.  I know lots of folks skip manuals, but this one contains information which makes game play lots more fun.

There are no saves.  I’m sure this is because the game is designed to be short, and it is short.  My average game time was thirty-five minutes.  Even so, I missed the ability to save.  With several different cases, I had the unfortunate experience of having life rear its sometimes ugly head after fifteen or twenty minutes of investigation.  I wasn’t ready to solve the case and I couldn’t save the case, but I had to stop playing and answer life’s call.  Leaving the game open on the computer was not an option, so those cases just went unsolved.  I found this completely frustrating! 

I was also bothered by the lack of a pause button in the first several cases I tried.  After all, the time to solve each case is limited and I did not like having to leave Barajean on his own watching the time count down while I let the dogs in or out, answered the phone, etc.  Eventually, I discovered that time only passes in the game if you are doing something—so I could safely leave Barajean at rest and not be penalized for it.  Discovering this made the game much more enjoyable and less pressured for me. 

What is unique about the game?

The Butler Did It is a short game designed for replay.  The victim and the murderer change each time you open the game.  The dialogue and the music might grow stale, the clues repetitious, but the basic whodunit will always be fresh.  However, this means there can be no walkthrough nor any hints.

What downsides did you notice?

I was impressed that this game is available in several languages including Italian, Finnish, and English.  I played the English version.  I noticed several instances of incorrect word usage, so if that type of thing in on your verboten list, be forewarned.

I found it difficult to correctly identify the killer with the clues given.  Once the killer was revealed, I never understood exactly how I should have known his or her identity.  After playing multiple cases, I was no closer to figuring out the logic of the game than with my first case.  I always felt as if I were missing something.  At times, I wondered if correctly naming the killer called for a lucky guess, or if the clues given were just too subtle for me to catch.

I also experienced frustration with the time limit.  Trying to choose the correct opening line and tone, interview the witnesses, and look for clues in the allotted time was impossible at first.  I had to memorize, through repeated games, which opening line and tone to use with each suspect.  In subsequent games I skipped unnecessary dialogue to give myself more investigative time.  But, even then, I always felt rushed.  I think this game would be greatly improved by eliminating the time limit.

What glitches did I experience? 

This game was stable on my system.  I experienced one crash back to my desktop, but was not able to repeat it.   

What are my final thoughts about this game?

Playing The Butler Did It is supposed to be an exercise in deduction and analysis, but I often felt like it was just a case of rolling the dice.  I never understood the game’s logic and often wondered if the killer was randomly picked.  Still I found myself strangely inclined to try just one more case, always hoping that the next time I would “get it.”  If you can handle the exasperating timed element, this game can provide an amusing interlude for those days when you don’t have time for serious gaming, but would still like to pit your wits against murder most foul. 

The Butler Did It is available by download only at


Short list:

Point and click interface

Short game -- less than an hour per case

Murderer and victim randomly generated so there is unlimited replay

Alt+tab friendly

Puzzle is one of deduction—Who is the murderer?

No voice acting, all subtitles

No saving

Time limit on each case

Simple graphics


Grade: C -

I played on:

Win XP Professional SP1

3.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4

1 GB Dual Channel memory



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