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Agatha Christie: Peril at End House

Score: 85%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Reflexive
Developer: Oberon Media
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Family/ Board Games

Graphics & Sound:

There are more casual games than just seek-and-find types, but the genre always feels perfectly tuned to casual gaming. The problem with most of the hidden-object games is that they are just a collection of pretty pictures. Regardless of what you think on this front, it still matters that the pictures are pretty. Agatha Christie: Peril at End House is more than a bunch of pretty pictures. There are characters, distinct locations that you'll investigate for clues, and above all, a story. The depiction of Christie's hero, Hercule Poirot, is perfectly matched to his description in the books, although I still think that Albert Finney was unbeatable as Poirot in the movie, Murder on the Orient Express.

There is a nice balance between original art and retouched photographic elements in Agatha Christie: Peril at End House. The end product works well enough to keep the search interesting as you move from location to location. There are plenty of areas to explore in the game and a variety of puzzles introduced between major chapters that mix up the fun. The puzzle components are introduced as actual table-puzzles, matching pieces of newspaper and filling in cut-out newspaper pieces to complete a puzzle. There are also smaller puzzles buried in some of the backgrounds and presented through hints like, "teapots in a row." There are also puzzles that connect to the story, testing your memory of what each character said along the way and the clues you unearthed.

There is nice music looping through the game, interesting enough to catch your attention and admiration, but not distracting. There isn't any voice acting in the game, but there are some rather poorly drawn panels as in a graphic novel, that move the story forward between major sections. In an otherwise classy production, it stands out when things look amateurish.


Gameplay:

Agatha Christie: Peril at End House manages to help create the sense of investigating a crime, right down to a body, a murder weapon, and some very suspicious characters. Playing as Poirot, you will move from place to place uncovering a list of objects that help you determine what is behind the mysterious goings-on at End House. The hidden objects will at times expose clues that you'll compare with story elements gathered from other people. These messages are delivered in several ways. One is that you'll find a story card, that contains some background on a particular character. Major characters will show up repeatedly and provide additional depth about themselves or others. You have to push past some obvious lies and do everything possible to redeem your benefactor that called you to help solve the mystery.

The process under-the-hood is similar or identical to any other hidden-object game. You'll see when starting the game a list of objects along the left-hand side that you must find to complete that level. You can obtain hints by asking, but you'll only get a finite number of chances to do this before you'll have to rely on your own sharp eye. There isn't anything beyond the seek-and-find mechanic that is required to enjoy the story. As you find objects, you'll periodically find story cards and gather pieces of paper that can lead you to a further puzzle. The chapters in the game are nicely compact, requiring only that you complete several rooms before moving ahead. It is possible to save midstream which is nice, also.


Difficulty:

The thing that comes across as a downer in Agatha Christie: Peril at End House is that the difficulty seems pitched to a more entry-level crowd. Unlike other games of this type, the conventions of where you'd expect to find an object are followed. Looking for a fruit? You'll find it most often on a table or plate. A bug or bird is likely to be in the air, and objects associated with other objects are clustered together. The fun part for gamers new to this genre, or those wanting to have a true casual experience, is that they'll have no problem burning through the game and feeling a sense of accomplishment. There are some strangely difficult levels with objects that were impossible to find without a clue, but this is definitely the exception that proves the rule. Gamers looking for a hidden-object game with a bit more abstract flavor, and that like to hide objects in very unexpected places, should look elsewhere.

Game Mechanics:

Agatha Christie: Peril at End House includes the clicking on hidden objects you'd expect, but also incorporates some drag-and-drop mechanics for puzzles that require you to find and move objects. These are cool, and it would be nice to see more variety in the gameplay than just one puzzler of this type every few levels. Saving the game happens automatically when you move from one level to another and you can also pull out to the main menu and save your progress in a specific area. The simple mechanics make this a breeze to play, and you can create separate profiles for households with more than one casual gaming fan.

The point to Agatha Christie: Peril at End House isn't that it draws from one of the great detectives in literature. It wouldn't matter about the brand if it didn't make good on its potential. The comic-panel story device is awful, but the rest of the game is very polished and fun to play. Pick this up as a download and help Poirot solve his case by using nothing more than a good eye.


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Minimum System Requirements:



Mac OS X 10.4+
 

Test System:



G5 iMac with Mac OS X 10.4

Windows City Life Edition 2008 Nintendo DS Space Invaders Extreme

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated