Rewind 10 years ago and it wasn’t casual games that were all the rage among PC users – it was adventure games, where you play as the protagonist, walk around and talk with other characters for clues, collect items which you need to use to solve puzzles, and of course, unravel an interesting story as you progress throughout the game. My favorites were from LucasArts (Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle), Sierra (Gabriel Knight, Return to Zork, King’s Quest) and of course the Myst games from Broderbund.
Whether this genre strikes a nostalgic chord or if you’re "game" for a deeper experience than 3-in-a-row puzzler, you can download a fun and challenging new adventure game based on a beloved murder mystery novel.
Available at Big Fish Games, Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None is an interactive whodunit that, while requiring some sleuth-like perseverance you’ll find it a gratifying tale of intrigue and murder.
Originally released last year on CD-ROM by The Adventure Company (and soon, for the Nintendo Wii console), 10 strangers are invited to a lavish estate on a tiny island by a mysterious host. After they arrive and congregate in the mansion, the unseen host can be heard on a phonograph recording, accusing each guest of committing murder at some point in their past – and even citing the date and victim’s name – and vows to exact revenge on all of them by becoming judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one.
A morbid poem on the wall foreshadows how each guest will be murdered. "Ten Little Sailor Boys went out to dine. One choked his little self, and then there were nine" reads the first line. The next line in the poem is "Nine Little Sailor Boys sat up very late. One overslept himself, and then there were eight." Here’s an example of how one might play out: in Chapter Eight, the rhyme is "Three Little Sailor Boys walking in the zoo. A big bear hugged one, and then there were two." When you find the body of Judge Wargrave, his head smashed in by a bear-shaped piece of marble.
You play as Patrick Narracott, a sailor who ferries the guests to the island. One of the guests destroys your boat so you can’t leave. You decide to find out who the killer is and stop him (or her). Interestingly, this character was not in Christie’s original novel from the early 1940s.
Played from a third-person perspective, Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None is a traditional "point-and-click" adventure game. You must search the premises and surrounding areas for clues, talk with each of the guests (and eavesdrop wherever possible, such as on a shortwave radio) and collect or combine items that can be used to solve puzzles (example: use pliers on a copper basket to make copper wire).
The high-quality 3-D graphics, fluid animation and well-written dialogue help make the characters come alive, not to mention the tense atmosphere aided by somber piano music and unrelenting rain, thunder and lightning. Nice job. And no, it doesn’t matter if you’ve read the novel as there are four different endings you might lead to. Because there is quite of bit of reading and dozens of puzzles to solve, the entire adventure can take between 15 to 20 hours to complete.
As you can tell, I enjoyed Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None, though it can seem tedious to those not use to all this "work" to play a game. I suggest making notes, as it might help you piece together clues.
Another shortcoming is huge 600MB+ file you need to download. Also, the CD-ROM version might be a better deal for the same price because you also get the Agatha Christie novel thrown in the box, and the game is on a CD-ROM for safe keeping in case something happens to your computer.
But even as a digital download, Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None is a challenging game that should appeal to murder mystery fans and casual gamers who might want to try their skill at a slower-paced head-scratcher with lots of atmosphere, character and intrigue.