the shapeshifting detective


the shapeshifting detective is a supernatural noir murder mystery FMV game. you play as sam, the titular shapeshifting detective, who can take on the appearance of anyone they've met. you're tasked with solving the murder of dorota shaw. you use your unique ability to impersonate other suspects to overhear private conversations.

we've been streaming it on twitch! it's not the best game for twitch, but we like when other people are watching us play and learn more.

our favorite parts of the game include:

  • when you visit violet as oscar for the first time. she greets you with a big warm "oscar wainright!" and then doesn't speak to you ever again.
  • violet walking up and down the hall with the scissors in a very red-herring way, except for the times when it isn't.
  • violet, in general
  • after you leave ellis's for the first time, there's a small jumpscare where she hands you your phone back in the car.
  • kissing rayne
  • hearing bronwyn describe the monkey on violet's back
  • when violet tells you she has a great memory because she's "still remembering grudges since [she] was four"


5 times


3 times


0 times


1 time

killer tally

killer count
zak 3
violet 2


the victim

in the town of august, a 21-year-old cellist who recently received a scholarship at julliard, dorota shaw, was killed on monday, october 9th, around 9:00 PM while her parents were out at the movies.

she was found strangled in her bed, naked. no signs of sexual activity. she also had a gold coin in her mouth.

she has red hair.


we learn from oscar that dorota shaw was an only child, collected thimbles, and helped out with the girl scouts with her mom.

she's implied to be a lesbian, which she struggles with considering her relationship with oscar. ellis suggests an alternate sexual activity: oscar watching her from the closet while she touches herself.

she has a beautiful accent.

ending credits spoilers

cello is her hobby, but her real dream is to make a time machine. she knows it's possible, and she wants to go back and fix some mistakes. make better choices.

the untouchables

these characters are guaranteed to survive through the end of the game.


sam is the main character of the game. or, sort of. you start the game with a man telling you that you're going to a town called august and you're going to use your shapeshifting powers. when you arrive, chief dupont mistakes you for someone else. he seems to be in on it, but he's not in on it. still, you're the main character, and if you die, the game is over.

chief dupont

chief dupont, a bald man in a white dress shirt and striped suspenders

chief dupont was in the station all night, and there are tv monitors to prove it.

chief dupont is the police inspector in charge of solving the murder of dorota shaw. one of the game mechanics is that you can go to him and he will summarize all of the information you've gotten and put it together. it's not always the whole story, but it's good for knowing what the game thinks you're supposed to know based on what you've heard/seen. because he's part of the game like this, and he has an airtight alibi.


violet (who calls him by his first name, claude) implicates chief dupont in helping violet dispose of a body of a homeless man named mr hedges.

we hate him.

he's homophobic.

he's a cop and more than willing to do whatever he wants just because of it.

bronwyn castle...?

bronwyn was logged in to a phone service called tarotasm. she's paid by the minute and there are voice recordings all night.

bronwyn, a woman with long straight brown hair and wearing red lipstick

bronwyn castle is the leader of the tarot readers who are staying in violet gallacher's guesthouse. she's maternal. according to lexie, she's an aquarius and her favorite color is green. she owns a tarot deck called mercury, which is special because it doesn't just give the answers to questions, but asks the questions themselves. she's also part of the story, with an airtight alibi, and there's a section where bronwyn can even get arrested so you have to deal with That before you can progress narratively and there's a few bits of dialogue that are obviously generalized enough that they're used at the end of Every murder, and bronwyn appears by name, we suspect that she is unkillable.


bronwyn discovered travellers (time travellers) existed when she, inspired by aldous huxley's the doors of perception, took a bunch of mescaline. people had rainbow outlines and she could watch them walk around. but, sometimes, people would just pop in. a new rainbow outline. and then they'd join with another and... disappear. melt into the person.

she frequently uses nicknames for lexie and rayne. she calls rayne "ray" which isn't any shorter but it's cute regardless.

she owns the mercury tarot deck, a deck where it only answers its own questions.

in the group readings, she drew the 10 of swords.

the suspects

the killer is chosen randomly at the beginning of each game.

violet gallacher

violet, a woman with long curly red hair

violet has no alibi. she can't remember what happened the night before.

violet is our favorite character and we love her. she runs the guesthouse where most of the characters are staying. her background includes cults, alcoholism, and alien abductions. she has beautiful red hair (plot-relevant), a frigid exterior with a butter-soft interior, and macabre sense of humor, and we love her.


she's in a relationship with zak weston, the town photographer. she is very jealous and when she's the killer it's a lot of focus on their love life.

she takes clozapine to try and stop her "delusional episodes" of being abducted by aliens. but she's perfect and telling the truth always, so they're very real.

she's been abducted five times. she describes each time starting with a dripping sound, then a metallic taste, and then she's gone. her head is thrust through the walls, which are made of vines "dripping with pain," and when she turns her heads she sees other girls just like her. red-heads. their heads are stuck out like trophies, and sometimes they're rearranged. pulled back out into the void and then put back into the vines in a different position. she's been a decoration for aliens.

she disposed of the body of mr hedges, a homeless man who stayed at the guesthouse recently.

she has a nine-year-old goddaughter named sophia.

she reads erotic romance novels.

she likes the radio as it cuts through the "unbearable silence" in her house.

she keeps a diary.

she ran in with a bad group of cultists who left her with a monkey branded onto her back. after the incident, she began to drink heavily, to the point of neuropathy in her fingers. she's six months sober

she spray-painted "whore" on ellis munro's car in the parking lot of the august radio station.

her parents were physically abusive. she's an only child, and once in a wedding someone else was the flower girl, so she played the page boy. she thinks her parents would've preferred her better because they'd always wanted a son.

rayne aka lawrence

rayne's alibi is that he was praying in his room.

rayne, a man with a brown bowlcut and blue eyes wearing a black dress shirt

rayne is a tarot reader who arrived in august with bronwyn. he's awkward and stuffy. lexie describes him as a "walking esoteric library," who can conjure up numbers and do astrological calculations.


rayne is his stage name. he was born lawrence petrovsky, and he was charged with murder in hong kong. he was seen holding a girl, victoria cheng, by the ankle before she fell to her death (off a building named "flight"). bronwyn and lexie corroborate, however, that rayne had been trying to save her, but he wasn't strong enough to hold on.

besides hong kong, he was also involved in their latest attempts to stop travellers in birmingham, alabama. a man named yuri slaughtered three south african girls within hours of each other.

you can kiss him if you catch the killer.

he's the only other person, besides violet, who uses the french pronunciation for "dupont"

he believes in nothing, but he also believes anything is possible.

zak weston refers to rayne meeting him the night before to discuss something about dorota shaw. so far, we don't know what that is.

rayne went down to the radio station to offer his services as a tarot reader for the local radio show, po and munro. he is turned down over the course of the game, mostly because ellis is turned off by the way that he read her death in his tarot reading.

his foundation is orange and we constantly have to point it out.

in the group readings, he drew the knight of wands.

lexie taylor

lexie, a woman wearing eye makeup red lipstick and has long curly blonde hair

lexie's alibi is that she was in her room with bronwyn.

the little sister of the tarot reading group, lexie owns a ouija board, with which she communes with the dead. she's sweet, sassy, and a bit of a flirt; she gets a crush on sam immediately. she always seems sincere, but is willing to do dirtier things.


according to the tarot readers, as explained by lexie, the spirit world is very far away from our world, physically, which means it must take time for information to travel between them and us. so they can tell us things that happen in the future because, in the spirit world, they've already happened.

she can be ruthless.

she's a fan of ariana grande.

she considers bronwyn a big sister and loves her unequivocally. bronwyn reassures lexie that she's immortal to quell her anxieties.

in a very uncomfortable scene with zak, it's implied that she's very comfortable with her body, but our only proof is when sam is playing as lexie. it may not be reflective of her actual behaviors.

in the group readings, she drew the five of swords.

oscar wainright

oscar's alibi was that he was playing football all night, with dozens of witnesses.

oscar, the son of the vicar, was dorota shaw's boyfriend. they'd been seeing each other for about three and a half months, but they "cared for each other." he appears supportive of dorota shaw's endeavors, but he still has doubts and is pretty quick to bounce back.*


in exchange for removing all of the points on his driver's license, oscar is tasked by chief dupont to rummage in bronwyn's room.

oscar's happy to bounce back quickly after the death of dorota. he offers to go out for coffee with bronwyn on their second meeting.

he leaves partway through the story, tired of being questioned.

he plays football, but we don't know how well.

he was on board when dorota shaw suggested a new game: for him to hide in the closet and watch as she touched herself. he also kept the dirty pictures dorota shaw sent him straight to his phone.

zak weston

zak, a man with very short hair wearing a light blue dress shirt

zak's alibi is that he was in the photography studio.

zak's the town photographer. he photographed dorota shaw for the paper when she got her scholarship, but that's not the only time they've met. he has books about serial killers and the only drinks in his photography studio is a skull of vodka. he apparently had a wife, but now he doesn't and he lives in his studio.


zak also does boudoir photography, which is tasteful nudity to imply sexuality, but isn't overtly so. dorota shaw had pictures taken with him for ellis munro.

he's "in a relationship" with violet. it's complicated. he says they're in a relationship, supposedly, but also zak denies it when sam and chief dupont ask him about it.

if you go to his studio as lexie, zak will attempt to drug you to take explicit photos, maybe more. he pours lexie a large glass of vodka, none for himself, and doesn't mind when lexie insinuates she's younger than 21. if you drink from the glass, you're drugged. if you're drugged, you "revert to your natural form" and "no one wants to say that." if you stay to take lexie's top off for zak, then you'll revert and you have to choose between changing into violet or zak. we changed into violet, to which he left, and thought we were a scary freak for an hour.

when he takes pictures, he can "step into them." like holograms. that's part of why he likes to take dirty pictures.

he's stalked ellis.

ellis munro aka munro

ellis's alibi is that she was on the radio.

ellis, a woman with short straight red hair and red lipstick

ellis munro is one half of "po and munro," the august local radio show. she's been in august for two years, and john pope ("po") refers to her as august's sweetheart. she has red hair, but it may be dyed (plot-relevant). she had a stalker named dennis who chief dupont failed to prevent from kidnapping her, but john was able to save her instead.


she's been in a romantic relationship with john for their entire working relationship, when john approached her putting her makeup on and forcing himself on her.

she was in a relationship with dorota shaw, someone she views as a friend. they were in a friends with benefits situation, but dorota shaw stopped being comfortable with men touching her after she started her relationship with ellis. it was ellis' idea for dorota shaw to make oscar watch from afar as a sexual activity.

two characters say that they imagined ellis to be blonde for some reason. we recently had the realization that that could mean that ellis dyes/dyed her hair, which would be hard for anyone else to know because she's mostly on the radio.

when you first try to show up at ellis's as bronwyn, she shouts that she doesn't know you and forces you to leave. you have to "leave" from a black screen, the only time in the game we've seen that.

she was working with zak to get john's amethyst pendant to sell. when pressed about it, ellis says that she was going to use that money to help pay for dorota shaw's living expenses so she could play the cello full time and not have to worry. there is no one to corroborate.

she knows dorota shaw that had the wedding dress in her closet because it was her mothers and she wanted to get married someday.

if you try to hit on ellis and try to proposition sex as oscar, she'll say, "sure, i'll let you put it in me... imagining dorota shaw's... cold, lifeless dead body... that way at least someone will be thinking of her." and then kicks him out. intense.

something is OFF about this girl.

she "charmed the local electrical store" into donating free radios so she could give them to people, including violet's guesthouse.

not in game, but she features in the sequel to this game.

john pope aka po

john's alibi is that he, along with ellis, was on the radio the whole time.

john is the other half of "po and munro", providing dramatics and instigating dialogue. he's a happily married man who cares a lot about ellis. he is a local historian and owns a pouch of gold coins. he's been doing radio for longer than ellis and considers it his civic duty to continue broadcasting despite the recent murder and the threat to ellis's life.


he came onto ellis on her very first day at the radio station while she was doing her makeup, despite being a married man. they've been in a romantic relationship for the entire two years they've been doing the show. he's made promises to leave his wife for ellis, but he hasn't yet.

he tells you about the history of town of august, explaining why he has an amethyst pending and pouch of gold coins lying around.

he gets uncomfortably close to the camera during a lot of his scenes.

his pupils are very dilated despite the very bright light.

agent x

we call him "the man."

in the beginning of the game, you're standing in a room with a white light and a deer head trophy on the wall. he explains the "delete" mechanic of the gameplay and provides you with the meta story and provides you with two rules.

  1. don't get caught
  2. never, ever change into a child

when the game ends, if you caught the killer, you are augmented from agent 3.13 to 3.14.

if you are caught, you are deprecated (killed).

he tells you that your powers will run out if you transform too many times. we have not reached this limit, if it really exists.

he tells you not to confirm the existence of travelers. they're "not ready."

additional characters


violet's goddaughter. she's 9 years old and a maths genius.


the police officer stationed outside the guesthouse.


the game was developed by d'avekki studios and published by wales interactive in 2017. there is a prequel game, the infectious madness of doctor dekker, that came out earlier that year. there is also a sequel, dark nights with po and munro, that came out in 2020.

the game features a "delete" mechanic. you can click and hold the trash can to delete something you can say. as agent x puts it, "sometimes you need to know when to keep your mouth shut." if you respond "who are you?" instead of deleting the question, agent x says "rewind" and you have to start back at the title sequence.

the cast

the cast is really, really solid. everyone's very believable and emotes well. they all have fun accents. the only weird ones are po and munro, but they're intentionally weird and stilted and overdramatic.