Follow the clues to solve a murder alongside one of the world’s most famous – polite – detectives.
What can you do when you believe you’ve witnessed a murder, but the police don’t believe you? If you’re lucky – or playing the hidden object game Agatha Christie: 4:50 From Paddington – you tell your dear friend Jane Marple and get her on the case. Miss Marple’s unassuming and quiet demeanor hides a shrewd mind and keen eye for observation, traits you’ll need to share if you hope to solve the mystery yourself.
Granted, if you’re familiar with the classic works of Dame Agatha, you’re going to have a bit of a leg up as you dig into 4:50 From Paddington. All the familiar locations and characters are present, including the particularly dysfunctional Crackenthorpe family. You’ll search various rooms of their home, as well as other locations such as the local train station, Miss Marple’s rooms, and the police station for objects and clues that might help you discover the fate of the poor woman who appeared to be strangled on the train.
You’ll be hunting for items from a list in each scene, but some of the objects on the list will be blurred out until you work through a conversation with one of the characters. A line of dialog will appear at the top of your screen with a particular word in bold; find that, and the next blurred word on the list will become clear as it turns up in the next bit of the conversation. You may be tempted to just focus on the word and ignore what’s actually being said, but pay close attention – the insight you gain will be invaluable later.
A fair number of puzzles are interspersed with the item searches, and while they tend towards the familiar, such as jigsaw puzzles, they do try to take a fresh approach. Not only do you need to move the shredded strips of paper right and left, for example, but also up and down, as they’re not all perfectly aligned. You’ll also have to use your mouse to brush aside debris and random junk in other puzzles before you can locate the particular items you need. These breaks are pleasant, but skippable if you’d rather just get back to the mystery.
In an interesting twist, you won’t be able to visit some locations until you find them on a map. Given guidance such as “north of the train tracks,” you’ll have to click the appropriate area of the map in order to unlock the new site. You’ll also occasionally be asked to identify the murderer based on your investigation to that point. You can review all of the conversation and clues you’ve encountered to date, which is very helpful, but of course if you’ve read the book you won’t really need to.
4:50 From Paddington does great service to its source material and is absolutely gorgeous to look at, but it does suffer from being a bit repetitious. Not only will you be searching the same locations over and over again, but you’ll be finding the same kinds of objects in every scene. One can only track down so many scrolls, umbrellas, and gloves before it becomes a bit tedious, no matter how well they’re drawn. The puzzles and mini-games are all well done, but similarly wear thin after you’ve done the same thing several times over.
The other trouble with the game is the hints. You’re given three at the beginning of every scene, but earning more requires you to find a fair number of items in rapid succession, a feat I only pulled off a handful of times, when trying to find several scraps of paper. If you don’t rely on hints, this isn’t an issue, but some players may find it to be a bit stingy. Playing on the game’s Relaxed setting should solve the problem, however.
Overall, Agatha Christie 4:50 From Paddington is another excellent contribution to the mystery author’s hidden object library. The searches are well constructed and there are enough intriguing twists in the expected gameplay to keep it all feeling fresh.