It was meant to be a simple case
Pay my rent, get me outta the rat race
But I’m starting to think I’m out of my depth
And it might just mean my horrible, untimely death
Trying to get out of here, but it’s no use
And for the love of God, the name’s not Pimplemoose!
Musicals are a time-honoured tradition in both theater and cinema, but sadly, the artform has seldom made the jump to video games. Dominique Pamplemousse by Squinky, however, happily bucks this trend with a foray into the even rarer musical noir subgenre. You control the titular gumshoe as they sing their way down the rabbit hole of a case full of intrigue, deception, delinquent landlords, autotuning, and brutal student debt.
Boasting a fabulous claymation aesthetic with lovingly hand-crafted sets, Dominique Pamplemousse nails a quirky and humorous style full of twists, turns, and off the wall interpretations of adventure game staples. While it may feature the occasional moon logic puzzle solution, the majority of the moment to moment gameplay relies instead upon picking holes in the stories of the key players, slowly tearing their words apart to reveal their true intentions.
But that’s far from all the game has to offer, keeping the player on their toes with commentary on everything from the moral erosion instilled by capitalism, to the day to day issues of living in a heavily gendered world where neither of the assumed defaults quite fit, along with a healthy critique of the darker sides of academia and its commodification.
The music itself is also well-presented, switching between various styles that fit well within the context and tone of the scenes around them. Every musical number is funny and compelling, fitting even with the hidden core of the mystery unraveling before Dominique’s giant clay eyes, and I struggle to think of many games that have utilized their soundtracks quite so well throughout.
Dominique Pamplemousse is wonderful, unique, and irreverent in a way that always feels like it’s punching up, using the absurdist story it weaves to underline the day to day absurdities in the world around us. Even if it might not sound like your jam, give it a try, you might just change your tune.
Mx. Medea is a writer, artist, and editor who spends most of their time drawing things with squares and buried under a small pile of endless paper copy. When not working they can be found playing everything from interesting indie fare to oldschool games. You can find them, their art, and their opinions @Mx_Medea on Twitter.