This Bed We Made is a hardboiled-crime mystery from Montreal indie game studio Lowbirth

Set in 1950s Montreal, this game casts the player as a nosy hotel chambermaid trying to solve a mystery that binds guests through the peculiar objects they bring on their travels.

This Bed We Made has all the aesthetic and mood you might want from a hardboiled crime novel. The first title from Montreal-based indie studio Lowbirth is a third-person narrative mystery game that allows you to indulge your curiosity as you uncover other people’s secrets.

Snooper’s delight

A snooper’s delight, this point-and-click murder mystery is set in 1958 at the fictitious Clarington Hotel located in Montreal. The game totally captures the moody style of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett — but written and played out from the refreshing perspective of a female protagonist. You take on the role of Sophie, a nosy chambermaid, in order to reveal a mystery that binds the hotel guests through the peculiar objects they bring on their travels.

Eventually your curiosity is bested by a hotel guest that has been secretly photographing you — until you learn there may be something more sinister afoot.

Clearly this game appeals to the voyeur inside us all. As in any good narrative game, a notebook will definitely come in handy as you rifle through all kinds of documents, memos, receipts, mementos, photographs and notes written on paper scraps and cocktail napkins. 

Replete with a cool jazz vibraphone soundtrack, exceptional sound design and voice acting, This Bed We Made has an immaculate attention to detail. You’ll quickly feel compelled to get to the bottom of all the dark stuff these hotel guests are getting up to. 

All the while, the player must fulfill Sophie’s housekeeping tasks, which feel like a cozy minigame despite it being her main job. Make beds and refresh towels or risk getting busted for doing what Sophie does best: being an armchair private investigator. This femme fatale is not to be messed with!

Authenticity as a double-edged sword

“The 1950s in Montreal is a time often remembered for the high cost of personal authenticity,” says Lowbith co-founder Chloe Lussier. “(It was a time) where being true to oneself could mean risking your job, family or social standing. In our game, we wanted to capture this era, focusing on the hidden struggles of people living under these heavy expectations.”

“We’ve laced our story with the glamour and intrigue of the noir genre, which not only reflects the secretive nature of these lives but also adds an interesting layer to the tension between fitting into society and pursuing personal identity.”

A Hitchcockian Life Is Strange

Lussier acknowledges that the worldbuilding in This Bed We Made is inspired by Hitchcock combined with Life Is Strange-esque gameplay. But as influences, “that is just the tip of the iceberg. Interestingly, one of the earliest inspirations came from 1950s lesbian pulp fiction novels.” 

Other genre-adjacent titles we found include the whodunnit-in-a-hotel vibes of Hotel Dusk, the genre-heavy L.A. Noire and the constant precipitation of Heavy Rain — but here, instead, it always seems to be snowing. 

Montreal shapes our work,” Lussier states with confidence. “(This Bed We Made) takes place in a 1950s Montreal hotel, but we’ve chosen a huis-clos approach to focus on capturing the essence of our city through characters and detailed objects rather than large environments.” 

The game is playable in both official languages, and was fully voice-acted by a bilingual cast, which Lussier contends is the studio’s way of “reflecting the city’s rich mix of languages and accents, much like the diversity we have in our team.”

Lowbirth: An origin story

The studio was founded as a “modest dream” to develop video games that deliver underexplored narratives by Chloe Lussier, her sister Raphaelle Lussier and their cousin Olivier Lussier. Lussier (Chloe) explains that “as support and investment grew, so did our team, bringing in a variety of creative minds, each adding their own unique touch and wide-ranging talents.”

It’s this unique team of collaborators, each bringing their distinct ideas to the table, that sets the studio apart. “In an industry where certain perspectives tend to dominate, we bring a genuine representation of the underrepresented into our game.” Lussier states that the studio seeks to “not conform to the usual mainstream focus on competitiveness or skill, choosing instead to concentrate on immersion and storytelling.”

Developing an indie game through to release comes with a universal set of barriers — like securing funding and finding your player community — but the Lowbirth team was determined to make it happen. Lussier goes on to explain: “The pandemic added another layer of complexity, and being a women- and queer-led studio posed its own set of challenges. However, we stuck with it for four years, and now, we’re really proud to finally have our game out there.”

And what’s next for the Lowbirth team? “We’re already deep in the creative process for another game. One thing we know for sure is that our dedication to unique storytelling, especially through mysteries, is what keeps us going.” ■

This Bed We Made was released on Nov. 1 and is available on Steam and consoles now.

This article was originally published in the December issue of Cult MTL.

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