Point-and-click game Chinatown Detective Agency is set in cyberpunk future Singapore

Rain drumming on the window, a glass of Pandan Old Fashioned in hand, and unsolved cases — such is the life of a Singaporean gumshoe. These impossible crimes that make the gears in your head churn. Inexplicable murders, mysterious disappearances and perplexing riddles. The satisfaction of cracking your first case, however, just gets people wanting more.

Early next year, indie developer General Interactive Co. (GI) will launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Chinatown Detective Agency (CDA), a pixel-art adventure steeped in neo-noir. 

Set in 2032 "retro-futuristic" Singapore, you play as a private detective Amira Darma, who just opened CDA in a world where the global economy is on the verge of collapse and governments are struggling to keep law and order.

Players will take Amira across the world in hot pursuit of criminals, leads, and objects of value. But they'll also have to manage the business at home, including paying bills, keeping the staff paid and upgrading the office.

In a chat with GI Creative Director Mark Fillon, it became clear to us that CDA is a labour of love for the team, whose members are based in Singapore and the United Kingdom. 

"It's a nod to my childhood and my current life as a resident of this electric Carrollian wonderland of a city," he told AsiaOne. 

According to Fillon, the game will be a whistle-stop tour of Singaporean lingo and references — from our very distinctive patois, Singlish, to unwritten rules of life around here, and underrated museums.

"I had been awestruck by how much history and folklore lay underneath the very futuristic and forward-thinking faced one would immediately see in the city-state," he says. Having grown up in Dubai (which in his opinion had been a place that did not have a lot of history), migrating to Singapore four years ago had been nothing but a breath of fresh air to him.

Not many of the locals would see it that way — having lived here their entire life in the city, it's natural to take it for granted. Things stood out more for him as an outsider, and he thought that the city would be an amazing setting for a detective noir story for its multiculturalism, energy and vibrant nightlife.

There's also Singapore's futuristic aspect, so a cyberpunk tale was just waiting to be told. Even though Singapore may not have the vibrantly preserved, millennia-long history of other places around the world, he believes that the city-state still has a lot of stories. 

He went on to share that the classic Carmen Sandiego games had been the first full PC game that he had his hands on, which he had instantly loved. His natural curiosity and love of discovery brought him to be a docent under the National Heritage Board, where he gives tours of the Indian Heritage Centre now and then.

The classic Carmen Sandiego games of the late 80s and early 90s. PHOTO: Screengrab from Youtube/Ace1000ks1975

With Carmen Sandiego games being a massive part of his childhood, it wasn't difficult for him to decide on crafting a homage to such an influential game in his life.

As far as gameplay goes, CDA is a game that will channel your inner Sherlock Holmes (or Sherlock Sam if we're going for a local flavour). You've got to use your wits to crack cases and do your research whilst playing the game, be it by Googling about clues or even talking to other players on social media. 

These see you traversing the Lion City and various other locales in a dark and desperate world steadily tearing apart at the seams. Players will have to travel via public transport in-game, which is based on the real-life MRT system complete with accurately named (and situated) stations. 

CDA will be available for release on PC and Mac OS in Q4 2020. Those interest in staying updated on the game can check out their official website, Twitter page and Steam page.

mabelkhoo@asiaone.com