I have to confess, before playing Evil Under the Sun
, I had neither read the book nor seen the 1982 film adaptation of this mystery (at this point I have seen the movie and plan to read the book). I was going in pretty blind. Part of me feels like this is a good thing, part of me wishes I knew what I was getting into before I started on this quest. I have to say, I did not finish the game before I had to write this review. So, while I can't be sure the game ends the same way as the novel (after all, Murder on the Orient Express
's game version had a deliberately different ending to make it still appealing to people who knew the solution), I found the two versions I am now familiar with to coincide quite well, but there are quite a few notable differences.
The first difference I noticed when I really started thinking about it was the reason Poirot gets involved in the mystery. In the movie, Poirot is asked to go to the secluded beach hotel in order to find Arlena Marshall, a former actress who seems to have taken a friend of Poirot's diamond. In the game, Poirot is going to this location purely for vocational reasons. This really bothers me because the ultimate motives for Arlena's murder are related to the missing jewel, so I can only assume the ending of the game is different than the movie (again I haven't been able to beat the game yet). I can't say this is a bad thing. I know the developers changed the ending of the previous game so that players who are already familiar with the story won't have a leg up and will still find the mystery intriguing, so maybe the same thing was done here.
Anyway, that is really the biggest difference in the game. For the most part, all the characters are there, all have motive and all also seem to have pretty good alibis. So how is Hercule going to solve this mystery? Well, actually, in the game, he already solved it. Poirot is telling Hastings about his adventure back at the home office. Actually, that isn't quite right; Poirot has challenged Hastings to solve the murder after the fact. Hastings will tell our detective friend what to do and how to interact with the world and Poirot will weave his friend a grand tale (yes, the two are role-playing). I found this introduction to be a little different and a nice way to start things off. I mean, how often do you get to play Hastings playing Poirot.
Anyway, the game has quite a few puzzles that will help you piece together exactly what happened and who isn't quite being truthful. Puzzles include piecing together torn pieces of paper in a guest's trash bin, shadowing people and using your stop-watch to time how long it takes to go between various parts of the island.