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Agatha Christie The ABC Murders

Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Microids
Developer: Artefacts Studio
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders takes the classic Hercule Poirot murder mystery and puts it in an adventure title that is both charming and unique in such a way as to really give off the Poirot feel.

The game's visual style takes on a cel-shaded cartoon appearance, but that doesn't mean it is lacking in detail. Poirot himself looks like the iconic Belgian detective should, while supporting characters like Hastings and Japp also fit the descriptions fans of these Agatha Christie mysteries have come to expect.

The locations that Poirot will explore also feel right. Places like seaside villages and busy street side storefronts all look and sound appropriate, which is good since a lot of the mystery in each murder investigation involves figuring out why no one could see or hear the murder taking place.

While David Suchet doesn't reprise his role as Poirot from the long-running British TV series, the voice actor who does play the part sounds spot on. I'm not saying that the actor sounds like he is trying to play Suchet, but rather he was able to get the same speech patterns and attitude that Suchet also captured in his portrayal.


Gameplay:

Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders is one of Hercule Poirot's more well-known mysteries. While this story hasn't been told as often as Murder on the Orient Express or Evil Under the Sun, it has still been portrayed a few times. Interestingly enough, most game adaptations of classic mystery novels try to change the ending in order to keep those familiar with the story guessing. The ABC Murders doesn't do that at all and sticks quite closely to the original text. So, while a fan of Poirot's mysteries will already know how the different murders play out and who commits the crimes, what Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders gives you is solid insight into how to work and act like Poirot himself.

The biggest way that the game conveys Poirot's mannerisms is through the screens that represent Poirot's little grey cells working. As Poirot works his way through a murder, he will observe many details around him and he will start to ask himself questions. When you have questions to answer, you can go into a screen and see if you know enough details to come to a logical conclusion. For instance, a question might be whether or not a character has a motive for the crime. As you talk to people that know the person in question, snippets of their interview can become items that should lead to a particular deduction. When you place the proper snippets of information in place, the answer becomes clear. Once you've answered all of the questions, then Poirot knows everything he needs in order to reconstruct the scene.

When a reconstruction starts, you narrate the events leading up to the murder, and based on everything you know, you should be able to talk through the events. If you do make a mistake, then the reconstruction ends and you have to start over. Once you successfully match the events though, the story can advance.

As for the mystery of The ABC Murders itself, the story starts off when Poirot receives a letter saying that something interesting will happen on a certain day in a certain town. When the day arrives, a murder is discovered and Poirot is called in to help with the investigation. While there is an obvious suspect, the presence of an ABC Train Schedule combined with the letter signed by "A.B.C" means that Poirot thinks something else is going on. Poirot is proven right when another letter arrives suggesting yet another murder. It quickly becomes clear that the killer is toying with Poirot, and the police and Poirot must work as hard and fast as possible in order to find the connections between the deaths and track down the killer's next victim before it is too late.


Difficulty:

Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders isn't too hard of an adventure game. Most conversations and interactions lead to clear and logical next steps. Even when you find that one of Poirot's questions might be hard to work out, you always have a limited amount of information to put into the question before you find the answer. So while you might find some questions harder than others, there is always the brute force approach to getting past those puzzles.

Speaking of puzzles, the game is littered with items that have to be thoroughly investigated in order to get all of the information you need before moving on, and a lot of these are cabinets or boxes that have complex mechanisms built in before they will open. While the game presents a wide variety of these puzzle containers, it does do a good job of increasing how complex they get as the game progresses. You will start off by trying to open a simple box with sliding panels, but that will increase to cabinets that needs hardware put in specific places and even ones that require matching patterns on the box to those found elsewhere in the game. The good news is, even if these get hard to work out, there is a hint system in place that will have Poirot perform the next required step, and that might be all the insight you need to work out the rest of the puzzle in front of you.


Game Mechanics:

While Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders is basically a standard point-and-click adventure game, the elements that make it feel like a Hercule Poirot story are what really makes this title stand out. Besides the grey cells screens and the reconstructions, the game also encourages you to act like Poirot by creating Ego Points.

These points don't really do anything to affect gameplay or the story, but they do reward you for taking actions and behaving in ways that Poirot himself would. For instance, if you see a mirror, make sure to look into it. Poirot will tidy up his suit and you will get Ego Points. You will also be rewarded Ego Points when interviewing someone for choosing certain questions over others. Those who know how Poirot behaves will have a much easier time gathering these extra points than someone who isn't all that familiar with the character.

Another aspect that helps with the Poirot feel, but actually adds to the gameplay is when Poirot makes an observation and you are forced to determine what it is about the scene that brought Poirot to that conclusion. For instance, when Poirot first looks at a person, he will make a comment, maybe about getting into a fight recently. The game then focuses on the subject and you need to move your cursor to the various items in the scene that lead to that conclusion. In this case, it could be items like torn clothing or bruised knuckles. These events feel like playing a kid's searching game, but instead of being told you are getting warmer or colder, the screen gets more focused as you get near an item of interest.

Not only is Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders a solid interpretation of its source material, but it is the only Poirot game I've played that really puts you in the head of the Belgian detective. This is a must-play for any fan of the character, even if you already know who done it.


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

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, AMD/Intel dual-core processor running at 2.2 GHz, 2048 MB RAM, ATI/NVIDIA dedicated/integrated or mobile graphic card, with at least 512MB of dedicated VRAM and with at least Shader Model 4.0 support, DirectX Version 9.0c, Integrated or dedicated DirectX 9 compatible soundcard
 

Test System:



Windows 10 64-bit, AMD A4-500 APU with Radeon HD Graphics, 4 GB RAM, DirectX 10

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