If you love the dreamy nostalgia and Easter egg color palettes of Wes Anderson films, Maquisard, a video game created by students at New York University's Game Center, will make your twee heart soar.
Inspired by Anderson's film The Grand Budapest Hotel, the 2-D detective game allows you to explore the dollhouse-like set up, in which you can either view all the action at once, or zoom in to see a single room. Remember playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? This will take you right back. Players start off exploring the game as the lowly lobby boy at a fancy hotel, listening in on conversations, completing tasks assigned by the hotel manager (such as delivering packages to hotel guests), and taking notes in a virtual notebook.
The gameplay is pretty basic, until the end of the first "day," when the lobby boy retires to his room for the night and is greeted by a character in a scuba diving suit, who appears through a hole in the floor. The effect might be a bit too quirky for some, but given the commitment to the general Wes Anderson theme, it works.
The goal of the game is to help the man in the scuba suit, part of an unnamed resistance, find a government spy masquerading as a hotel guest. Players are given three in-game days and five clues, but are then left to their own devices when it comes to eliminating suspects.
Players use their notebook — the only tool the game gives them — to keep track of their progress. The notebook shows the features attributed to the spy (for example, whether they are "wealthy" or "romantic") along with a chart of all the other characters. So when players notice one of the guests displaying amorous tendencies, they can checkmark that part of the chart under the guest's name, working up to find which guest has all five traits attributed to the spy. Everything players discover is through some form of spying, whether it's hiding behind the potted plants conveniently placed throughout the hotel or listening closely at the doors of guest rooms.
Visually, Maquisard is just affected enough to be charming for its 30-minute playthrough time. The game is available now as a free download for both Mac and PC, with an optional donation.