Cause of Death (game)
|Cause of Death: Can you Catch the Killer?|
Cause of Death game logo
|Series||Sister game of Surviving High School|
|Genre(s)||Interactive fiction, Visual Novel|
|Distribution||Digital distribution through in-game store and App Store|
Cause of Death: Can you Catch the Killer? (almost always shortened to Cause of Death or CoD) is a video game developed and published by Electronic Arts for iOS devices on December 16, 2010. While being almost identical in gameplay, the game is intended for a more mature audience than its companion game Surviving High School, as the game revolves around crime and serial killers and their pursuit by law enforcement (and it's text depicts some rather graphic and suggestive things at times). Understandingly, the suggested age on the App Store is 12+. Cause of Death is a visual novel that is divided into a series of volumes, each of which is made up of eight chapters (excluding the first and fourteenth volumes). The base game (which is free from the App Store) comes with the entire first Volume -- future content must be downloaded either by "Episodes on Demand" or "Now Airing".
Written in second-person (where the player plays from the perspective of characters), Cause of Death is a Visual Novel with major elements of Interactive Fiction and classic Choose Your Own Adventure books. The game is focused on storytelling, with a character's dialogue (or narrative dialogue) appearing above background images which shift to fit the location. Tapping the screen moves the text forward, and eventually, the player must make decisions to say or do something—these are shown with multiple options on the screen, and the player must select one.
Most but not all decisions will grant the player Detective Points if the correct choice is made. During action scenes or important conversations, failing a certain number of decisions will result in the player failing or dying; when this happens, the game will show a non-canon death/failure sequence (some of which are actually quite detailed) before the player gets a Game Over, requiring a revert to the last checkpoint or a replay of the chapter. If the player got 80-100 out of 100 Det. Points, they will get a bonus scene (Volume 1 needed 500-600 Det. Points for all 6 chapters together and had only 1 bonus scene at the end if this was met).
Episodic Content System
What distincts EA's visual novels from others is the fact that the game releases new content periodically. There are 2 ways to do this; Now Airing and Episodes on Demand. Every other Monday, a new episode is released (at a price) on the Episodes on Demand section (be it a chapter of a volume, an interlude or a side story or premium content pack); 2 Mondays from then, that piece of content will be released on Now Airing and can be purchased for free. However, only 1 piece of content downloaded for free from Now Airing can stay on a device at once.
On September 20th 2013, after a few months of trouble in regards to keeping a stable schedule, the Facebook page announced new episodes (both Now Airing and On Demand) will be released bi-weekly; from December 2010 up until then, episodes were released weekly on Monday's.
Cause of Death has a plot inspired by crime scene investigation television shows and is based upon solving murder mysteries. Other prominent themes include friendship, love, trust, morality and criminology. The story takes place mostly in San Francisco, although some cases (including most of Volume 15's) take place in other areas. Most protagonists are members of the SFPD (including FBI Agent Natara Williams), whilst the antagonists are serial killers; a plurality of whom have unique MO's, victimologies, motivations and backstories (predominately of tragedy or abuse). Organized, financial and political crimes have all been featured at some point, and crimes that are correlative to the protagonists themselves also play a role in the game's storyline. In earlier seasons (particularly the first), the game's storyline had a stronger focus on criminals and crimes rather than characters. However, as the game has progressed, the SFPD members and their character development have became a much more prominent focus.
Volume one is available for free in the base game. The remaining volumes are available to purchase as a set at various prices. All volumes up to 14 are available as a set; the current Volume 15 is releasing individually-purchased episode's as of now.
The length date's listed here are in relation to their release on Episodes on Demand.
|1.||The Maskmaker||December 2010 (6 chapters, released at once)||Complete|
|2.||The Connoisseur||December 2010 – February 2011||Complete|
|3.||The Hunters||February 2011 – April 2011||Complete|
|4.||Zero||April 2011 – June 2011||Complete|
|5.||Hand of Justice||June 2011 – August 2011||Complete|
|6.||Mad Stranger||September 2011 – October 2011||Complete|
|7.||The Ladykiller||November 2011 – January 2012||Complete|
|8.||The Kraken||February 2012 – April 2012||Complete|
|9.||Livewire||April 2012 – June 2012||Complete|
|10.||Nightmare||July 2012 – September 2012||Complete|
|11.||The Salazars||September 2012 – November 2012||Complete|
|12.||The Boogeyman||December 2012 – February 2013||Complete|
|13.||Spinerette||March 2013 – April 2013||Complete|
|14.||The Firstborn||May 2013 – August 2013 (9 chapters)||Complete|
|15.||Untitled||September 2013 – present||Ongoing|
Aside from Volumes, the game also offers the following content:
- Side Stories: In between each volume is a side story, which usually revolves around a side, recurring or secondary character to the game.
- Premium Content: Generally released inbetween or during a volume. Premium Content almost always have absolutely no decision-making, allowing the player to read at their own pace. Occasionally consists of multiple stories and is sometimes released as an On Demand exclusive.
- Interludes: Volumes from the ninth onwards (excluding Volume 12) have an interlude released between 2 of their chapters (usually the 4th and 5th).
Cause of Death, across its many volumes, features a vast and wide range of main, recurring and minor characters. The main protagonists of the series are Mal Fallon and Natara Williams, an SFPD detective and an FBI Special Agent respectively. Other protagonists throughout the game include Detectives Jeremy Redbird, Blaise Corso and Ken Greene, lab techs Kai Kalaba and Amy Chen, and commanders Charles Anders and Maria Yeong (and a handful of other recurring officers). The main antagonists of the game are the serial killers and members of organized crime who put the safety of the protagonists and/or the city at risk. Witnesses, victims and neutral characters are also found.
- "Cause of Death (iOS)". GameSpot. Retrieved 2011-10-21.