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Video Game / Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders

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Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders is a 2009 game made by Bihou and Square Enix. It's mostly a Hidden Object Game, but has a number of other puzzles interspersed throughout it (assembling broken objects, tile flipping puzzles, variations on the 15 Puzzle, spot-the-difference, and others). The plot is presented in the style typical of a Visual Novel, though without any significant player involvement in directing it - players solve the puzzles and the plot advances.

The story is set in Japan in the 1890s. At the start of the game, the legal attaché at the United States embassy is found dead, and although the general consensus is suicide, his wife Irene does not believe this, and investigates for herself. Eventually, she is proven to be correct - a criminal enterprise is uncovered, a kidnapped girl is rescued, and the killer is tracked down.

This game provides examples of:

  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: A piece of paper indicating what ship the killer is trying to flee on is, of course, incomplete.
  • Deception Noncompliance: The artist Tsukumo is forced (by way of kidnapping his daughter) to make counterfeit art objects. However, he deliberately does flawed, traceable work in the hope that someone more expert than the villains will notice and bust the operation.
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  • Diplomatic Impunity: It looks like this could be an issue when Ambassador Tilley comes under suspicion, since Detective Fujikawa won't be able do anything if Tilley is uncooperative. In the end, Tilley isn't the killer, so immunity doesn't come into play.
  • Faking Another Person's Illness: The killer's claim about going to see his sick mother, delivered right as suspicion falls on him, is quickly dismissed as a bit too convenient.
  • Geisha: One of the places visited is a geisha house frequented by the artist Tsukumo. Only the house's owner is actually encountered, however.
  • He Knows Too Much: The killer gets rid of the ambassador's secretary, James Fox, when the latter wants out of the scheme and is planning to flee the country.
  • Frame-Up / Framing the Guilty Party: The killer does this to James Fox, who was part of the conspiracy but not the mastermind of it. When the killer decides to get rid of Fox, he tries to overplay Fox's crimes so that the police assume they've solved the whole thing and stop looking for the actual murderer.
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  • Hidden Object Game: The main point of the game. Quite an array of objects are hidden on each of number of illustrated backdrops of various pretty scenes of Japan. Many of them have no relevance to the plot, but occasionally, something is found that provides Irene with the next clue - a letter, for example, or pieces of something that she will then have to reassemble in a minigame.
  • Klotski: When rescuing the daughter, you need to solve a small Klotsi puzzle. It's on the easy size, due to the lack of vertical pieces.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: In the finale, the villain thinks he's going to get away by pulling a knife on Irene, but since she's quite aware it would be silly to confront a murderer unarmed, she brought a gun.
  • Never Suicide: Neither of the two "suicides" in the game are actually suicides. It looks like fake suicides are the villain's favoured tactic, since his police report connects him to a suspicious instance earlier in his life.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The killer's poor English is just an act.
  • Out-of-Character Alert / Imposter Forgot One Detail: Irene's first clue that her husband's death wasn't really suicide is discovering that the note he supposedly wrote to her initially misspelled her name ("Ireen"), a mistake her husband was hardly likely to make.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: It looks like Irene has accidentally broken a valuable antique vase, but its destruction allows Kenzo to detect that it's a forgery, and to see the clue that the unwilling forger Tsukumu has left.
  • Red Herring: The type of knot used in the fake suicides is briefly considered an important clue, but in fact, doesn't help. It turns out to be fairly common among sailors, and both the suspects at that point have a background which would allow them to know it. Despite this, it is still used as a piece of evidence to accuse the criminal.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Detective Fujikawa is willing to listen to Irene's suspicions and investigate properly - unlike Yamada, who considers the case clear-cut suicide and doesn't want to be told otherwise.
  • Recurring Location: You generally revisit the same locations, and each revisit gives a different 12-pack of items to find.
  • The Scapegoat: The killer tries to make James Fox this. Fox had only a secondary role in the conspiracy, but the killer stages a "suicide" for him and tries to make him look like the primary/sole villain so as to take the heat off himself.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The killer drugs his victims before faking their suicide by hanging. The discovery of the discarded pill bottle near the end of the game is an important clue.
  • Speed Run: A steam achievement is awarded for completing the game in 150 minutes.
  • Trapped in Villainy: Tsukumo, the antiquities forger, is an unwilling participant in the scheme, participating only because the villains have captured his daughter.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: The killer tries to flee when he knows his scheme is unravelling, but it caught before he can board his ship.
  • Writing Indentation Clue: Irene uses this to find a warehouse of fake goods and learn Tsukumo's name.

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