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Murder in the Abbey

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: The Adventure Company
Developer: Crimson Cow
Media: CD/3
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

When I first started up Murder in the Abbey and saw the game's use of cartoon animation for the graphics, I immediately got excited. I was instantly reminiscent of classic games like Monkey Island or the older Broken Sword games, except with 3D cel-shaded models instead of the 2D variety of those older ones. Unfortunately, the similarities as far as the game's general quality pretty much end at the looks, but more on that later.

With detailed 2D backgrounds and cartoon models and the dark-ages setting , Murder in the Abbey feels like it would belong at home in your Disney collection right next to Sword in the Stone and Black Cauldron, but oddly enough the game has a much lighter feel to it, almost too much, especially when you consider the game's plot. It is called Murder in the Abbey after all.

Audio is a mixed bag. Most of the time the voice acting is pretty good, but there are plenty of times when the lines used just really don't sound right. Almost as if the actors, or voice-director, weren't sure of the context of the statement. And when those times hit, it really threw me out of the game and broke my suspension of disbelief.


Gameplay:

Murder in the Abbey follows a monk who is almost impossible not to compare with Sherlock Holmes, considering they are both renowned for their ability to pick up clues and decipher people with the slightest bit of effort. Leonardo de Toledo is delivering an apprentice of his to a remote abbey when a boulder from an above cliff falls and almost kills the pair. It seems this strange event is not without precedence, as Toledo and the young Bruno learn that there was a recent murder in the abbey (if the name of the game didn't already lead you to that bit of information).

From there, Toledo's investigation takes him around the abbey talking to everyone in fairly long, exhaustive dialogue trees, picking up anything that might be of some importance (though what items you need to grab are fairly obvious if you pay attention to the dialogue) and giving those objects to people or using them on the environment. In short, besides the game's pretty style, Murder in the Abbey quickly becomes just another adventure game.


Difficulty:

Murder in the Abbey will be an easy run for anyone who has played even a handful of adventure titles. Between the fairly obvious puzzles that become little more than "try everything in my inventory" and the little quests where one character tells you almost exactly what they need and you go off and do it, this game comes off pretty easy and unoriginal.

Most of the harder puzzles are only that way because you forgot to pick something up or look at a particular object close enough, and when you do that, everything just falls into place. This isn't always a bad thing; it's really nice to play through a game of this type and never even contemplate pulling up a walk-through, but the lack of any truly unique puzzle styles really causes this game to blend into the background noise that is the adventure genre.


Game Mechanics:

Murder in the Abbey's control scheme actually deviates from the norm when it comes to controlling Leonardo de Toledo. Sure, you still click on the screen to move him about (though the monk moves painfully slow), but instead of employing the standard context-sensitive cursor that changes based on what actions you can perform, you left-click on an object in order to examine it and right-click in order to perform an action on it.

I have to say that this small change took just a little getting used to, and I'm still not convinced it is a better approach. It definitely breaks away from the masses in this way, but considering the general adventure gamer is incredibly familiar with this particular interaction model, it can be more harmful than helpful.

In the end, Murder in the Abbey is eye catching with a somewhat interesting "Sherlock Holmes in the Dark Ages" feel to it. But if you, as an experienced adventure gamer, are looking for something big and challenging, this isn't the game.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP/Vista, 1.4 GHz or equivalent Processor, 512 MB RAM, 3 GB HD Space, 64 MB Graphics Card, GeForce4 Ti generation or ATI Radeon 9500 (DirectX 9.0c compatible), DirectX 9 compatible Sound Card, 4x CD-ROM.
 

Test System:



Alienware Aurora m9700 Laptop, Windows XP Professional, AMD Turion 64 Mobile 2.41 GHz, 2 GB Ram, Dual NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS 256MB Video Cards, DirectX 9.0c

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated