Looking for a video game version of The Grand Budapest Hotel? I might have just found it on the IndieCade area of E3. It’s called Maquisard, and it’s a game about being a simple lobby boy in a big, fancy hotel. Obviously, given your super low ranking status, there’s little you can really do except go around performing menial tasks. Or is that really true? As the game opens up with a little tutorial, players are shown how they can effectively spy on the hotel guests. Apparently your boss finds this totally cool, as long as it is in means of somehow bettering the hotel. So, armed with a bit of stealthy knowledge, you return to your sleeping quarters in the basement of the hotel.
And then, a character in a ridiculous scuba diving getup appears! They’ve come to beg for your help on an urgent task from the resistance. You must aid them by discovering a government spy posing as just another hotel guest. But they’ll only be there for three days, so you’ve got to act fast! The setup is simple enough, but players are pretty much on their own when it comes to discovering which of the handful of guests is truly the spy. Well, at least you’ve got a handy notebook to keep tabs on folks with.
The notebook is basically your lifeline (especially for those not interested in keeping pen and paper notes while playing Maquisard). It showcases the five features attributed to the spy (for example: they are “wealthy” and “romantic”) along with a chart of all the characters. When players realize that one of the guests is acting romantic, they can then check mark that part of the chart under their name to keep tabs. On the other hand, if you recognize that, for example, one guest is careful about spending money, you can cross out the “wealthy” section for that character. There are five traits in all which must be met in their entirety to prove that one guest is far more than they seem.
Basically everything you discover is through some form of spying to uncover information. One of the best is listening in on the conversations of guests, which you do so by simply hiding behind a potted plant and getting really close. They’ll never notice, apparently, even if you’re an inch away. It’s quite funny to see happen, and yields great results. Other aspects involve putting your ear to the doors of guest rooms when someone is inside. Provided they’re not asleep (and in there to begin with), you’ll tend to catch the goings on behind closed doors as well. Eventually, everyone goes to bed, and you can only do the same which leads to the next day.
Visually, Maquisard is right up there in the ranks of stylish games. The art style is simple, clean, and a bit cartoony. For example, the cute little lobby boy himself has a hat so big it covers half their face practically. The other guests look cute in their fancy garb, and of course the hotel itself is quite magnificent. Watching everyone mill about the building is enjoyable in and of itself, though of course you’ve got to intercept guests to spy on them more. The only disappointment at this point is that there’s not even more to the game.
Maquisard was created in the span of a few months, meaning that at this point there’s only one government spy each time. Therefore, this is a bit of unchanging narrative, whereas most probably expect to see a rotating “correct” character. Given this, one half hour playthrough is enough to see what the game has to offer. It’s a lovely half hour, to be fair, and makes sense when the development team is willing to give it away as a free download. I just know that this is a great little experience that I’d love to see fleshed out even more.