Agatha Christie’s classic murder-mystery novel Death on the Nile adapts itself to the hidden object game format perfectly, which is good news for all of the amateur sleuths out there.
You step into the shoes of famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot to solve the murder of Mrs. Linnet Doyle, a wealthy newlywed who is killed while on vacation on a luxury cruise ship sailing down the Nile River. All fourteen passengers are suspects, and each has their own motives and secrets to discover.
If Poirot is to get to the bottom of the mystery, he must search the ship from top to bottom for clues, question the suspects, and examine any evidence that turns up in the course of the search. For each investigation that Poirot performs (there are twelve in total), you must do these three things successfully.
In typical hidden object game fashion, you’re given a specific list of items to find in rooms that are cluttered with all kinds of sundry and assorted stuff. Only by finding all the items on the list before time runs out can Poirot move on to the next part of the investigation.
That being said, Death on the Nile throws a few twists into the mix. Some of the items on the list of things to find will be special "clue" items that will help to shed new light on the investigation. It might be a letter or newspaper clipping that introduces a new motive for one of the suspects, or an object that turns up in an unexpected place, or even vital pieces of forensic evidence that relate directly to a murder. With each new clue that turns up, Poirot gets new questions to pose to the guests in the Salon, and new items to examine in the Clue Room.
Each investigation ends with a bonus round where you get to complete a short puzzle that relates to one of the pieces of evidence you gathered, such as completing a tile puzzle to put back together the fragments of a letter or photograph, figuring out the locking mechanism to a box, or matching Poirot’s observations to the appropriate suspect or image.
The clues are the same each time you play through the game, but the other objects to find in the 26 rooms of the ship are randomized, meaning that it’s possible to play the game more than once and have a very different experience each time.
What’s particularly impressive about Death on the Nile is the way that the gameplay elements and story are intertwined, which creates a sense of realism and cohesion that is sometimes not as strong in hidden item games.
For example, Poirot’s list might say to find the pieces of a ripped up letter in one of the passenger’s rooms, which you’ll have to piece back together in the bonus round, after which its contents reveal a juicy secret about one of the passengers, who you can then question them about in the salon.
There are also variations on standard item-hunting. For example, you might be asked to find "10 marbles in a jar," which is accomplished by click on various marbles and dragging them into a jar, or "3 teabags in a cup" or "6 roses in a vase" and so on.
Another nice touch is that all items in the room stick to the early 20th-century time period of the books. In other words, there are no televisions, computers, skidoos or UFOs here; but instead you’ll be exploring a world of old-fashioned hats, analog radios, fine china, and brown leather suitcases.
Little touches like these make the experience shine as something that remains true to the original Agatha Christie novel. Indeed, there’s not much to complain about at all beyond the fact that occasionally a few of the objects are hard to make out, and the bonus round challenges are uneven, ranging from easy matching games with no consequences to taxing logic puzzles.
Overall, though, Death on the Nile is a good bet for detective wannabes and hidden object fans alike. It’s hard to go wrong when underpinned by such a great story, and thankfully the gameplay rises to the occasion.