Microids/Artefacts Studios release the video game adaptation of the infamous Agatha Christie novel, The ABC Murders where players assume the role of moustache twiddling and famous private detective Hercule Poirot who has to solve the case of the ABC murders where the killer taunts the detective and leaves a calling card at the scene of each crime. Using his cunning, powers of deduction and interrogation techniques, Poirot gets to the bottom of the murders in a clever twist which will leave you enthralled at the result.
In a nutshell, the game is a point and click adventure where you control the Poirot character and move around various scenes in England. You can – very slowly – walk around cel shaded rooms and locations, highlight objects, talk to people and solve the odd puzzle to gather clues. It’s quite a formulaic game where you’re repeating the same tasks over and over whilst uncovering more of the plot. The game’s pacing is very slow and so for the impatient caution is advised. However, the nature of the story is interesting and if you can ignore any of the game’s repetitive quirks you’ll find much enjoyment from uncovering the murderer. However, the journey there is a mixed bag where there’s quite a bit of hand-holding which takes some of the guess work out of the experience, to the point where the interface is too simple and more like an interactive movie.
That said, the game does toss in a number of obscure and mind bending puzzles for the sake of it where you’re able to rotate objects and figure out how to open them having pressed switches, pull on knobs and such like. These elongate the experience and although can be quite challenging slow the pace down considerably. It seems the game doesn’t quite know where its difficulty should lie making for a disjointed game. On one hand younger players will find the approach quite satisfying and then stumble on one of the many tough puzzle moments. Luckily you can “cheat” and get solutions but this takes the fun out of working things out, or the elation when the penny drops. That said, the onset of frustration is very real here due to the design process so it’s good there’s an option to fall back on should you be royally stumped.
Probably the biggest part of getting the most enjoyment from the game is not being familiar with the book. If you are then sure it’s great to relive the moments again, but knowing the end result before hand takes away from the experience. Coming in with a clear mind means you’ll appreciate the events much more.
In terms of visuals the game’s graphics are colourful and simply animated but overall convey the locations and characters well enough. There’s a bit of slow-down on occasion which seems out of place but nothing to really be concerned about due to the general slow pacing. The audio is a mixed bag with dry performances from some of the cast and Poirot’s French accent being something you’ll learn to live with or detest with a passion. There’s a bit of music on occasion but nothing that’s intrusive or stand out amongst the varied ambient sound effects.
Gamers can complete the ABC Murders in one day’s play and then that’s it all is done as the killer is revealed and there’s no need to retread any steps thereafter. There’s a wealth of achievements to go for which might require a second playthrough but the reality is there’s no real incentive to do so once you beat the game.
Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders is a likeable game for point and click fans due to its engaging story although in many ways is a bit too simple for those who require more taxing pastures. Whilst the game is appealing to a wider audience as a result, it comes across more like an interactive story than an adventure game. You simply move forwards quite readily with little in the way of being stumped aside from the small selection of obscure puzzles thrown in for good measure. As a one time play deal it’s way over priced at £31.99 on Xbox (compared to £22.99 on PC) and considering how little replay value there is and how long it will take to beat not worth it until the price is significantly reduced.
Score – 5/10
Review code supplied by Microsoft Xbox