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The Sexy Brutale is a nightmarish game version of Groundhog Day

The Sexy Brutale’s house guests are doomed to die. Not just once or twice, but endlessly, stuck in a repeating loop that resembles a nightmare version of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day.

The story follows Lafcadio Boone, a preacher repeating the same day ad nauseam. Lafcadio, along with several other masked patrons, are guests of the Marquis. The day begins with promise of a lavish party, only to end with the murder of everyone in the Marquis’ mansion. Lafcadio alone is free to see the day for what it is and prevent the murders before they happen.

The Sexy Brutale is obsessed with time, and it operates on a tight, uninterruptible schedule. "Nothing is ever going to change,” James Griffiths, Cavalier Game Studios founder and narrative director, says. “At 7PM, this guy is going to be walking through there. At this point, you have no idea who he is, what he's doing, what he's trying to achieve, what his story is."

As you discover certain characters or events, your map will display different markers to remind you of their whereabouts. For example, it took me two in-game days to watch one masked member ruthlessly gun another down. On day three, when tragic events began to play out, the would-be murderer got a nasty shock: I’d replaced his bullet with a blank.

It’s crucial not to give yourself away. Rather, your job is to observe unseen through keyholes and from behind corners to gloomy corridors. If you enter an occupied room, the guest’s mask will fly in a magical rage and chase you out.

Saving a life grants a new ability. The man I’d saved turned out to be a clockmaker. Sparing him in this particular loop granted me the power to use the clocks around the mansion as savepoints. The more guests you save, the more powers you have to complete the adventure.

For the fourth day, I had a new goal: I was tasked with saving two guests at once. Their names are Clay and Trinity, and both their deaths were scheduled to occur, one after the other, near the mansion’s casino. My attention was focused on these two, but that didn’t mean the other guests were safe. While I spent time hunting for clues, masked attendees were being murdered again and again; occasionally the mansion’s very foundations would shake, or the music would suddenly swell and fall to silence signaling that somewhere, something sinister was happening.

The Sexy Brutale is built around mystery, Griffiths says, and players will get answers to all of its twists — even the weird ones, like a particularly large spider monster I spied behind one door. “It's not enough that in each area we have an answer for when the guest is murdered, why they're murdered, and how you stop them from being murdered,” he says. There are greater questions to be found, like why the day is repeating, or if your actions even have any meaning.

“How do you end up in a situation where even when you save the people's lives, they still just get back to being murdered?” Griffiths says. “Is there a way to really save everyone and figure out what was happening here all along?”

In the case of Clay and Trinity, it didn’t end well. Their masks had gone gray on my pocket watch, indicating that I’d failed the day. They had died. As time ticked toward its inevitable reset, I pondered the rooms I hadn’t visited and planned my next move. Tomorrow would be another day.

The Sexy Brutale, created by Cavalier Game Studios and Rime developer Tequila Works, launches for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One on April 12th.