Have you tried... solving a crime with spells in Voodoo Detective?

Voodoo Detective
(Image credit: Short Sleeve Studio)

You'd think having access to supernatural powers and spells would make solving cases a breeze, but the adventure game Voodoo Detective shows that it can also make things more complicated. Set in the 1930s but with a distinctly 90s feel to its animation and vibe, Voodoo Detective sees you trying to solve a case for a woman who has lost all her memories but has acquired a new and mysterious piece of jewelry in the process. To help her you'll need to explore the island of New Ginen - once a paradise, now a tourist attraction complete with chain stores - and use spells and smarts to reveal the local secrets. 

Whichever location you visit, the local bar, the bank, or the graveyard, you'll find an intriguing character who will probably be able to help you - or tricked into helping you - with just a bit of problem-solving and a few ingredients. None of the puzzles are The Secret of Monkey Island-style baffling, and your inventory is limited to items that are actually helpful, so there's none of that spending six hours trying to combine a pebble and a tin of beans. Even the spells, their recipes are always accessible in your menu, are heavily hinted at when you need to use them, and you can only use them at specific points. Say you need to steal a bottle of aged rum from a bartender, but she's too suspicious for you to sneak it away. Why not create a love spell with an apple and an autograph and give her something else to do for a while? It might take away from the freedom, but it also saves you flinging about magic like Hermione Granger on MDMA. 

Voodoo people, magic people

Voodoo Detective

(Image credit: Short Sleeve Studios)

As you might expect, things get pretty weird as our detective follows the clues in the case, and next thing you know you're using spirit portals and interrupting dark rituals. By this point, you're so invested in the story though, that it all seems totally par for the course. I mean, you did buy a game called Voodoo Detective, not Miss Marple's Gentle Stroll. I loved trying to whip up a Poisson Pass Out potion and having to source pufferfish venom, and using Grammy’s Flamin’ Hot Sauce! recipe to help with some light demolition on a desert island. 

As well as the hand-drawn animation style, the voice acting really kicks it up a notch. The Voodoo Detective himself is a joy to listen to, even as he tells you off for trying the wrong solution over and over, and it gives the rest of the cast real character. If the title made you wince with the memory of clumsy depictions of the voodoo religion in popular, know that developer Short Sleeve Studio seems to have made an attempt to avoid the worst stereotypes. The game touches on ideas of colonialism and the evils of capitalism without bashing you in the brain stem with it, and voodoo is treated with respect rather than as something weird and hilarious. 

It's an absorbing little caper, and the ability to cook up spells to solve problems is a nice little addition to the point-and-click formula. It's short and sweet, but whatever the Voodoo Detective's next case is, I'm happy to help out. 

Voodoo Detective is out now on PC, iOS and Android. 

Rachel Weber
Managing Editor, US

Rachel Weber is the US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+ and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She joined GamesRadar+ in 2017, revitalizing the news coverage and building new processes and strategies for the US team.