Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View is a story-driven observation thriller developed by White Paper Games and published by Fireshine Games and Sold-Out Software. It released on November 2, 2021 on all platforms and playing as Robert Conway, a retired investigator who is wheelchair bound, you take it upon yourself to investigate a murder that has happened in your own backyard. It’s suspenseful and a very clever game that kept me guessing right to the end and I recommend the game if you’re into whodunnit’s and detective sleuth games.
Set in England in the 1950’s, a child called Charlotte May has been kidnapped from the house opposite Robert Conway. Conway’s corner room overlooks everyone’s houses in Dahlia View seeing right into everyone’s windows and while he can’t hear words spoken, he draws on his lifetime’s work as an investigator to deduce possibilities based on his neighbours’ actions and behaviour. Conway’s daughter, Catherine, works in the police department and is one of the leading investigators in the case, looking to get out of the shadow of her father and insists that he not get involved. He’s retired and bound to a wheelchair, but knowing that an innocent child has been kidnapped, and in his own neighbourhood, compels him to do his own investigative work.
Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View starts off slowly as Robert, using the zoom on his camera from the height of his office window, looks around the nearby vicinity, zooming in on objects the police have chalked out, taking notes as he makes observations when the police first arrive on the scene. Straight away the voice acting is superb, and Robert’s tone, emotions and inquisitive thoughts almost matches your own as you try to figure out what could have happened and what’s about to happen. Conway investigates five key people and their lives within Dahlia View.
Aside from Tony Morgan, Charlotte May’s father, the other occupants of Dahlia View are Lady Doerr, Shirley Downes, Harold Levy, Annabelle McKee and Theo McKee. Lady Doerr is an elderly widow who hands Robert a brooch that belonged to Charlotte May. Shirley Downes is the landlady of the local pub, the Crow’s Nest. Harold Levy is Conway’s landlord and runs a garage, keeping mostly to himself. Annabelle and Theo are married, and Annabelle is Shirley’s sister. They were all shocked to hear of Charlotte May’s kidnapping, though they all showed odd behaviour in differing forms when first conversing with Robert, making you immediately cautious of everyone. The character detail of the characters was occasionally blurry, but I felt the overall aesthetic of the game was spot on for the mood it was capturing.
Conway is essentially suspicious of everyone and as he observes their actions and interactions in each of the five chapters, you can certainly tell why. They all act suspiciously, either arguing amongst themselves, concealing objects, or acting strangely in the dead of night, and it all adds to the anxiety of getting to the bottom of who kidnapped, and possibly killed, Charlotte May. It’s very cleverly weaved together and given Robert’s experience and know-how; you find yourself in the homes of his neighbours looking for clues. It is here where it makes you uncomfortable rummaging through their private things but urges you on to find any evidence that can prove or disprove Conway’s suspicions.
There are certainly moments in Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View where there is hope for finding Charlotte May, and evidence that could prove the worst has happened. There are also times where you really feel for Robert given, he is stuck in his wheelchair and things like stairs, and even trying to reach high places, were a repeated frustration and limitation for him. Moving Robert through narrow corridors, sometimes having the camera obscured by a wall or door, made it a little frustrating to control him initially, but it made you aware of just how limiting it would be for him, or anyone bound to a wheelchair.
There are ramps you can use as well as elevators or lifts in each house, so there was never a moment where I felt I was stuck or couldn’t get to a solution. Gathering evidence as you explore each room, and referring to notes that Conway takes through his searching, will eventually gather enough evidence for Conway to return to his house to try piece them all together. Using photographs and pins on a cork board, you must look through evidence gathered and string them together, pinning them to the right photograph in order to solve each key mystery. If you think you’ve connected the dots, you review your theory and Robert will either say that, perhaps you need to review the evidence again, or that you have solved that part of the case.
As Conway investigates more of his neighbours, his daughter Catherine gets increasingly more irritated by her father’s behaviour. She knows he’s trying to help but he is hindering her investigations, while on the other hand, Robert has the skills and experience to help, and the ability to go outside the lines that Catherine as a policewoman perhaps cannot cross. Robert knows he’s doing the wrong thing at times but it’s for all the right reasons, and I loved the dynamic at play there. The end of the game was a mixture of elation, relief, sadness and admiration at what the developers have put together and I highly recommend you play through it yourself.
Overall, Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View is a fantastic whodunnit thriller that kept me guessing right to the very end, building suspicion and tension as you get closer to solving the mystery around Charlotte May. My excitement mixed with anxiety increased as I progressed through investigating the characters. The puzzles were well balanced with very little backtracking, and the notes Robert made throughout helped to keep you on track. I thoroughly enjoyed taking my time through these investigations and really enjoyed the ending to the story.