What happens when a board game and hidden object game collide? The answer, of course, is CLUE Accusations and Alibis, a new downloadable puzzler from RealGames based on the mystery classic from Hasbro.
The game successfully combines elements from both game-play types – primarily, deduction and object-finding – to solve a few hundred cases. You know the premise: a Hollywood dinner party at a millionaire mogul’s mansion turns deadly when the host is murdered. You must search the house for clues and find the person responsible for the ghastly murder. Who did it, with what weapon and in which room?
CLUE Accusations and Alibis is based on the original board game (and with classic characters such as Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlett!) but is updated with a new mansion, more contemporary items (such as a cell phone and fashionable flip-flops) and of course, hidden-object game ("HOG") tasks and mini-games.
As a cyber sleuth, you’re presented with many rooms to search for objects listed at the bottom of the screen. Unlike most other HOGs, the items are not only refreshingly relevant (a whisk in a kitchen, dog dish in the backyard or bathrobe in the spa) but will also contain a murder weapon (such as a knife, gun or candlestick) as well as clues to help narrow down suspects (such as a coat check slip that might say something like "Col. Mustard had a trench coat and cane").
You’ll have plenty of time to search for the objects (about two hours for an entire case) but should you click incorrectly three times in a row you’ll lose two minutes off the clock. And if you incorrectly accuse someone of murder you’ll lose one hour (more on this in a moment).
You can get a hint by clicking the flashlight and it will shine a light on an item you haven’t found yet. Better yet, find something that tells time – like a watch, alarm clock or wall clock – and you’ll get 15 minutes added to the case time.
After you’ve scoured a room and found all the items, you’ll visit a screen that lets you start a rumor – such as "Mrs. White did it with a baseball bat in the living room" – and you’ll eventually get some handy info from one of the familiar characters (such as Prof. Plum), like "The dumbbell was not the murder weapon." But unless I’m missing something, I found you can click any of the three items (listed under person, weapon and location) and you’ll always get a hint that helps you deduce who the killer is.
When you’re making a formal accusation against someone, however, you’ll have to closely read the evidence screen to make a good call (e.g. "Evidence from the murder room did not include a ring") or you’ll be penalized with a lot of time shaved off the clock, but the Rumor area is a lot more forgiving.
The idea is you’ll eventually end up with a list of all the people, items and places with large red X’s through most of the items. That way you can deduce the guilty one, what they used to do the deed, and where. You can win or lose a case only by running out of time, so it’s recommended you read the clues and use the ‘ol process of elimination to see who’s left.
RealGames says there are 400 different cases to solve, which is huge, and makes up for the fact there’s only one game mode. In fact, we played the game from the beginning under a different name and found the items you had to search for were different, which also adds to the replayability. The various mini-games you can play also help, such as a Concentration-like memory game, jigsaw puzzle challenge, a gear rotating game and one where you must successfully connect the wires to carry a charge. You can’t skip past the mini-games or else you won’t gain access to secret rooms in the mansion.
Even though there are no other players to interact with like in the board game, I personally didn’t miss the multiplayer part. I thought it would be an issue, but the game’s artificial intelligence (A.I.) does a good job with the clues and rumors and such. Plus, how would they add a multiplayer part unless you could both do the HOG component together? (Now that would be interesting.)
CLUE Accusations and Alibis is a good – and good-looking – HOG and not only provides a good search experience (and with fun mini-games) but challenges players to think through the suspects, murder weapons and mansion room to ensure an accurate accusation, the latter of which you don’t see often in HOG games (some have this feature, though, such as Cate West – The Vanishing Files and The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes). Plus, fans of the classic Clue board game will especially find this digital recreation a welcome treat.