Agatha Christie: THE ABC MURDERS


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by INTERACTIVE STUDIO; MICROIDS; ANUMAN INTERACTIVE; IRM; STEAM;
AGATHA CHRISTIE MANAGEMENT 

INTRIGUING, INTERACTIVE MURDER!

Story:  After receiving a letter signed ABC, challenging him to solve a murder due to occur in a few days time, Poirot contacts Inspector Japp of New Scotland Yard to warn him.   They become involved in trying to solve what appears to be a series of murders based on the alphabet, of the victims’ names and of their locations.  The usual Agatha Christie well-constructed, cleverly interwoven, convoluted plot, with clues scattered along the way for you, as Poirot, to use or discard.

Options: Language, Volume, Video, Controls.  Under Video you can turn the game from High to Low, if your Mouse tends to ‘float’.  This of course affects the Graphics a little, making some  of the written documents impossible to read; and makes  the Game-play awkward at times, but makes the Mouse control much easier.  I had to resort to this on my Windows 10 computer.  I haven’t tried the game on my Windows 7 computer, as I thought that as it was a new game it should be compatible with Windows 10.

Main Menu:  Easy to negotiate – Play; Bonuses; Options; Profiles; with Player Name, Ego Points, Progress in top right. Quit shows as you leave the game.  Help contains the whole Tutorial notes, which you can visit by clicking Pause anytime during the game.

 Music:   Poirot theme versions, but very repetitive.  Can turn it right down so it’s okay.

Character Voices:   On the whole they are similar to those in the David Suchet movies.  However Poirot is disappointing as the French sounds Boer at times – it could of course be Belgian French, but if so, instead of sounding perfect, it sounds wrong.  So Poirot doesn’t quite have the right feel at times, as you’re playing.  Hastings and Japp are much closer to character, and of course the other characters all work well, as there are no expectations for them.

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Bonuses: Timeline; Reconstructions; Trophies.  Although the Timeline and Reconstructions tell you what you’ve already discovered, you can visit these during the game to see how you’re going, or to jog your memory.  If you’re Trophy orientated, a quick scan through after the game should suffice.  And if you miss any Trophies, you can’t collect them afterwards either – you have to replay the whole game again, possibly under a new Player name.

Desktop:   You have virtually the whole screen to play with.  An Arrow bottom right of screen opens to show HELP, Notebook, ‘?’ with which you access respectively the Tutorial, The Tasks, and ‘The Little Grey Cells’ for deduction.  As you gather Items to use – not many each scene – they are placed  in Inventory circles beside the open Arrow.

Tutorial:   Instructions are given initially as you begin, then a Hint at a time each Loading change of screen.  These are rather repetitive, but useful if it’s for something you haven’t done for a while.

Graphics:   As you can see by the Title Graphics at the top, they take the form of comic-book/illustrated novel, with animated linear characters walking through illustrated, perspective settings.  They are rather similar to some of the Sherlock Holmes games, rather than the 3D CG Graphics of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, EVIL UNDER THE SUN, and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, but you adapt to it quite quickly.

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Puzzles:   As there are no Hidden Objects (HOPS) this game is rather heavy on Puzzles.  And they need to be done in a certain order as well, which can be frustrating, not to mention cause you to stall altogether.

Tip: For example, the Clock puzzle you have to rotate the Clock and note the stuck Paper in its one Panel; then you have to set the Hands to 12; turn the top right Spindle; open the top Panel; turn the bottom right Leg; open the right Panel; remove the Key and note the Clue inside the Door; use the Key on left upper Gear, right bottom Gear, middle Gear; then use the Key on Metal Disk in the Clock Face; open the Panels.

Hints:  http://guides.gamepressure.com/agathachristietheabcmurders/  I found this Hints site, which gives enough info to get you through the touch spots.

Game-play:   This is a little confusing at first.  Click on all Icons to find out what they do and possibly lead to.  While seeming to be quite different from the other Poirot games (mentioned above), this game is equally interactive, requiring you to walk Poirot, and often beside him Hastings, through the scenes, examining all areas including bodies for evidence collection and the noting of information.  You can double-click for Fast Walk – which isn’t very fast.  You also collect Ego Points when you behave as Poirot would – like checking Poirot in all mirrors so he can see how he looks.

When you examine Evidence, you can turn them to examine them by dragging them around.  If you click on an Inventory Item you immediately gain this facility.  In other areas you are required to Look at a character to decide whether he/she is telling the truth, or how they are feeling.  Circles appear then turn green in the right spot.  It is necessary that you carry out ALL these actions within a scene, and that you Click on them all, before you can finally leave the scene.  So if you get stuck check the room again until you find the missed Action – this  may entail you repeating one you have already carried out.

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Player Participation:   You have to ‘make’ the unlocking, lifting, moving, sliding actions yourself.  If you Pause the game you can ‘Use a clue’  to have Poirot make one action for you.  But it is very slow to recharge, and that one action may be in a long list of them.  If I were you, I’d resort to the Hint Link above.  I had it on my other computer, so was able to switch between them without having to come out of the game.  This saved a lot of frustration for me.  But I didn’t need it very much.  Once you get into the swing of the game, especially of rechecking things you’ve already done, the game moves more freely.  Otherwise it is slow moving.

Frustration Factors:   This is mostly caused by the slowness of the scene changes; the constant revisiting of completed actions; the refusal of the game to respond to clicking until you have done so many times – for example trying to make Japp speak in the Lobby towards the end (grit your teeth and persevere).  It’s great that Steam have a Demo for you to play prior to purchases – a thing they rarely seem to have – but after purchase of the game, you need to Start the game from the beginning, repeating thee first murder inquiry.

Satisfaction Factor:   Despite the frustrations of the Game-play; the slowness of the loading; and the stubborn Puzzle games, this is still an enjoyable experience.  It sticks quite closely to Agatha Christie’s novel, which is always a bonus.  If you have read it, or seen the David Suchet movie, then you will already know who the murderer is and how the plot unwinds.  But this doesn’t spoil the game at all.  It adds anticipation.

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I recommend this game to all Agatha Christie fans, and also to others who are into narrative Crime games.

Jud House 10/12/2014

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About judsartwork

I write reviews of Adventure and Hidden Object games that are Crime, Fantasy, SciFi, Renovation, Travel, Quest and/or Mystery by genre. I have a Masters in Writing (2006) and have been writing novels, both crime and fantasy for many years; plus Haiku, verse, and prose both fictional and literary. I am also an artist of modern, Acrylic, textural and hard edge work, underwater, fantasy, expressionist, and Cosmos paintings. I use mixed media (Acrylic, Watercolour, Pastels) in textural Monoprints, finding surprises to expose within each work. Having both an analytical and creative mind has meant that I have strong powers of observation, and the persistence required to follow computer problems through till I solve them. Of course I am not always successful, but am willing to ask for a little help in order to then unlock the main problem myself. My Troubleshooting Blog, 'Problems and Solutions', was the result of my tenacity.
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2 Responses to Agatha Christie: THE ABC MURDERS

  1. Steve Veasey says:

    Forget my comment on the earlier post 🙂 Thank you for the in depth review. the Agatha Christie games have always suffered from the necessity to trail around looking for people to talk to or visiting the same locations over and over and over in the hope that something ‘new’ might have turned up. What keeps you going is the ‘whodunit’ element, Evil under The Sun had one of the best endings in a video game ever, never in a million years would I have worked out who the murderer was and how they did it so it was worth persevering….

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