SNARK BUSTERS Series.


by ALAWAR GAMES; ALAWAR STARGAZE; BIGFISH GAMES

GREAT FUN; MIRRORS; CRIME!

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Stories:
WELCOME TO THE CLUB – 
Join Kira Robertson as she sets out to find the Snark, an elusive creature few people have seen and no one has caught. Can you decipher the clues, solve the puzzles, and piece together the objects you need to track down your target? Follow the Snark through mirrors, into inside-out and upside-down worlds and join the Snark Busters club in this fast-paced and exciting Hidden Object game.

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ALL REVVED UP – tells the incredible story of Jack Blair, a world famous racecar driver who puts his career on hold to catch the Snark. Join Jack as he jumps between the real world and the inverted realms inside of mirrors in an attempt to catch his quarry. Solve whimsical puzzles, explore worlds of exquisite detail, and keep your eyes peeled for hundreds of cleverly Hidden Objects!

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HIGH SOCIETY – Investigate the dastardly deeds of a wealthy socialite and prove your fiance is not a thief in Snark Busters: High Society! Love, envy and revenge join forces to make the hunt for the Snark more exciting than ever in this all-new hidden object adventure! Solve riddles that reveal pieces of the larger puzzle, follow the trail of clues through mirrors into the backward world and chat with charming ghosts. Can you catch the Snark? You’re closer than ever!

Options & Main Menu:  As the Series progresses these both move from the very basic Options and Menu to good basic, then on to the beginnings of extra settings that we now take for granted in all the new games.

Music & Voice-Overs:  These also move forward from really irritating repetitive Music and No Voice-Overs in the first two, to good Voice-overs though a little out of sync occasionally, and a variety of Music melodies that are not so intrusive and actually match the events in the game.  This does however, also give a really annoying but character-suitable voice to the TV Scandal reporter, Jessica Marrey, which makes you not want to bother listening to  her drivel – not quite what the game creators had in mind, but it is a step up from the pages of dialogue you’re supposed to read on the TV screen.  By the latter part of each game you are past caring.

Extras:  None.  And while I’m here, No Notebooks or Maps.

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Desktop:  1.  Menu (Top Left); KIRA (Left); Inventory of Item Fragments to find (Centre), with an extra box on the left side for the occasional piece you want to move to another site; Hints (Right); Skip Tutorial (Top Right).
2.  Menu (Top Left); JACK (Left); Inventory of Item Fragments to find (Centre), with an extra box on the left side for the occasional piece you want to move to another site; Hints (Right); Skip Tutorial (Top Right).
3.  Menu (Top Left);  ELIZABETH (Left); Inventory Circles for the occasional piece you find or gain to move to another site(Centre); Hints; Compass (Right); Skip Tutorial (Top Right).

Tutorial:  These are quick, efficient, and can be Skipped if you choose.

Graphics:   These are great!  Unusual and captivating. they’re illustrative, delineated, colourful, imaginative, and great fun.  They support the nature of the story and the game really well.  If you trial any of them you’ll see what I mean.  If they are a little blurred at all, I just didn’t care because they are such fun.  Besides my super curved screen with it’s magic game button on the back sorted out most of it this time through. 😀

Play Modes:  Only available in the 3rd game via Options – Regular; and Expert.

Map:   None in all of them.  However in the 3rd game there is a Compass, which turns out to be just a direction pointer.

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HOPs:   As mentioned, in all of these you collect fragments of or  parts for items that then assemble and can be used where needed for the usual opening of things.  You probably know the drill.  So they’re not really HOPs in the usual way.  In the 3rd game, these have a circle format – a Wheel of Circles opens from the hotspot in the scene showing the shapes of the parts required to complete the surrounded item.  It’s a click and drag the parts onto the circles action which is quite fun.  Those that are not in, or are hidden in, the site are indicated for you to locate later.

Puzzles:   Some are fine.  Some are annoying.  Most can be Skipped, look carefully for the Skip sign it’s in different places for each game.  HINTS show via drop-down magnifiers.  Both HINTS and SKIP are slow to recharge – but at least they do so.

Tips: 1. Bell Puzzle – bong bell sequence fast, before their lights go out.  At the Switch-board change Power from Bridge to Gazebo and back to visit each.
2. The Dinosaur Pose Puzzle is a bit touchy – make sure you pose the tail as well as the head and legs.
3.  The  recurring Mini-game of Focussing the Photo Negatives prior to printing them seems hard to handle until you realise that when the +/- button (positive/negative) turns green it is correct, so  you can press the red process button to proceed.

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Game-play:   In games 1. and 2. this entails opening the site and launching into a clicking sweep across it, picking up bits and pieces that are obviously not meant to be there.  When you’ve found what you can then look down at the Inventory Bar below and see what parts shapes are left, and locate them.  If they cannot be collected yet, then they will remain a solid colour (red) until they have been unlocked by other actions taken elsewhere.  Or, of course, you could look at the Inventory Bar first and painfully locate each piece one at a time if you don’t want the fun.  In game 3. as mentioned the format is different, but the fun stuff can still be done if you’re brave and don’t care if you have circles opening and closing across the screen as you find the random items. You do have to wait for the action to be completed before you can use your mouse again, which is a minor discipline, but bearable.
As the Stories shows, these are MIRROR games – BACKWARD MIRRORS, that are of course Portals to the same location but inverted, usually messed up, and often very warped.  It’s a clever idea as you get to visit the sites in two different versions within each side of the mirror.  You have to pop back and forth through a multiple of these within one main location of sites, so you have to keep alert and not lose your way.  The Hint will help you work out which one is the active site by leading you there in steps, but it’s less frustrating if you can remember where things were.  I highly recommend that you take notes all the time.
You will also find Overclicking Butterflies – if you click a few quick times on one spot – that pause your cursor for a few moments.  Nothing too vile – unnecessary, but not evil.

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Player Participation:   As you have probably gathered this is full-on!  And great fun on the whole.

Frustration Factors:  Mostly the lack of Notebook – though often the info you’ve gathered is put on the screen beside the relevant Puzzle.  Some however don’t do that, so you need to make notes.  Tip:  Make notes continually, for everything, because the one thing you don’t note down will be the thing that doesn’t place the info with the Puzzle and you’ll have to backtrack to the source of the info to get it down in the right order.

Satisfaction Factor:  This is high.  The fun factor, the surprises in Game-play format, and turn of events, and unexpected locations make all three games really worth playing – and buying.

I highly recommend this Series.

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Jud House 22/08/2017

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Posted in ADVENTURE, FANTASY, SCI-FI | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

BEYOND: LIGHT ADVENT – Collectors Edition


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by MAD HEAD GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

THREATENED WORLDS; SCIFI!

Story: As a child, you had a wonderful imaginary friend from outer space. Nix taught you about the stars and inspired you become an astronomer. Years later, while investigating a mysterious object in the sky, you discover that your imaginary friend was real all along! He’s come to warn Earth of a terrible threat – a merciless race of aliens is fast approaching, and you and Nix are the only ones who can stop them. Can you save both your friend’s planet and your own in time? Your journey will take you into the past and beyond the stars… (Big Fish Blurb)

Options & Main Menu:  Both are good and user friendly.

 Music & Voice-Overs:  These are great.  The music is ethereal at times, battle like at others, and can be volume controlled.  The Voice actors are also really credible, evoking empathy or dislike for the relative characters.

Extras:  Making of; Jigsaw Puzzle; Achievements; Mini-Game; Characters; Collectibles; Soundtrack; Wallpapers; Hidden Objects; and on collection of all Rockets there is a Unique Hidden Objects to play.  The Mini-Game format is a little unusual – not quite what it appears to be on first sight.

Desktop:  Nix (Left); Inventory & Lists (Left and Central); Memory Bracelet,Map, Walki-Talki, Hint, Menu, Guide, Notebook, Memory Crystal (Right).

Tutorial: As usual this is efficient and allows you to opt out if you wish.  I’m inclined to just click on Special Features Tutorial where it is offered – just in case there is something unique to a game.

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Graphics:  The SciFi graphics are magic!  Fantastic!  So colourful, and delicious that you can’t wait to dive into and explore them.  The real world graphics are also really good, depicting a slice of the 1950’s which is cool.

Play Modes:  Stargazer; Astronomer; Cosmologist; Physicist.

Map:  This was also graphically gorgeous, and had sparkles to show where the tasks were.  But it also depended upon whether it had enough charge in it from the Memory Crystals.  So sometimes you would want to open it to check where the next task was, but would find you were locked out.  That was a little frustrating.  And if you clicked on the sparkling site and jumped to it, that would use up some of the charge.  So caution in needlessly jumping is advised.

HOPs:  There is quite a variety of these – including lists, shapes, matching glyphs, finding hidden pairs, story HOPs –  all containing a Morphing Object to collect.  If you don’t manage to collect them all you can regain them after you replay the HOPs in the Extras upon both games completion.  Some are reasonably easy to find – just look for the movement on the screen – but others are really obscure and need perseverance.

Puzzles:   On the whole these are all good, though there are rather a lot of them.  ? on the Right gives Puzzle Info and it’s worth checking even if you think you know what is required, as there are some odd little variations.  On the Left there is a Skip Arrow which you can apply when the Puzzle is random or tiresome or annoying.  That is your choice and doesn’t require guilt.  Do the ones you like and move on.  I am also not a fan of those shooting/fighting/battle Puzzles that require speed, accuracy, dexterity to play.  These are almost always placed at the end of each game in your struggle to overthrow the enemy.  They spoil the game for me every time as I have to Skip them due to my only-medium dexterity levels.  There must be better alternatives.

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Collections:   Rockets (44); Morphs in HOPs.

Game-play:   This flows really well, and is quite enjoyable.  The story leads you along, keeping you involved and motivated.  There is sometimes a sense of urgency, but you do have time to deal with whatever that is.  Several times you use the Memory Bracelet combined with the Memory Crystal to travel into your Memory of time spent on Nix’s home planet, where you search for useful Items, and also repair damage done by the invaders.

Player Participation:   This is constant – you have to carry out many tasks yourself, by turning screws, unlocking coded padlocks, rebuild Nix’s space ship etc – so you never feel like an onlooker.  The Point n Click is high in this game.

Satisfaction Factor:  I found the game very satisfying overall, and in particular the ending for both the main and bonus games were really well done.  The Main Game is really long  which is also gratifying – you don’t feel rushed through the story and can allow the experience to settle in your own memory.  Another interesting aspect is the humour in this game – it is unexpectedly funny at times.

Frustration Factors: Sometimes when you know what is needed but cannot make it happen, or when you are barred access to the Map just when you need to jump to an otherwise inaccessible location, it can be frustrating.  And some of the Puzzles are frustrating, and should be Skipped after you’ve given them a token try.  I’d rather have the game flow smoothly than have it grind to a halt over an illogical Puzzle.  And the aforementioned high-dexterity battle Puzzles at the game’s end are also frustrating and not inclusive of all players.

Bonus Game:  This story takes place on Nix’s home planet, and really completes the main story – though that does complete well enough, while leaving you wondering a little.  The game-play for the Bonus Game is the same, flows well, is also quite long, and very satisfying.

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Jud House 19/08/2017

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Posted in ADVENTURE, FANTASY, SCI-FI | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE MYSTERY OF THE PERSIAN CARPET


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by FROGWARES; BIGFISH GAMES

FRUSTRATING; CRIME!

Story:  Hunker down at your flat at 221b Baker St. in London. The year is 1896, and Scotland Yard has called Sherlock Holmes with an urgent request for help. Along with Watson, you must investigate a peculiar crime – a young painter has been murdered and found rolled up in a remarkable Persian carpet. Explore scenes in order to find clues and reveal suspects. Use Police reports with interrogations and statements of witnesses in Sherlock Holmes: Mystery of the Persian Carpet. (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Options & Main Menu:  Both are basic but user-friendly.  The Options contains a Gamma setting so you can lighten the Graphics up – I suggest you use it as they are very dark.  You can also choose Timed or Untimed Mode – I recommend Untimed as the game-play is frustrating and very time-consuming for the first play-through.

Voice-overs: There are none.  Instead there are information-loaded scripted conversations between Holmes and Watson, which are rather lengthy (and tedious) – especially at the end of the game.  Voice-overs would make this quicker and more acceptable.

Music:  Classical violin music that Sherlock might have played.  Not too irritating as there are several pieces, but they do repeat several times during the game, so I suggest you turn it down so you can just hear it.

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Desktop:  There is the Help, Main menu, and Puzzle button at the top left of screen – in my version anyway.  In the Walkthrough this Puzzle button is replaced by Map, Scotland Yard, and (I think) a 221b Baker Street buttons.  A Hint button occurs during the game in each location so you can find the next move or item.

Tutorial: This is at the start of Play, is rather intrusive yet helpful.  It is very necessary for a Novice player, and can save some floundering around for the uninitiated. You can access this info via Help during the game.

Graphics:  Although dark as mentioned, they can be lightened by using the Gamma slide in Options.  I also set my screen on Games as it has that facility, which was even better.  They are good, relatively clear, with slightly subdued colour, and really suit the era of Sherlock Holmes.

Play Modes:  Casual; Detective; Adventure.  I chose Casual, and was very glad that I did.

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Map:  For those with the Map button, I guess you can access it at any time during the game to go between locations, or at least to do so when expected to.  For those with only the Puzzle button, you have to wait until you have completed each location including Puzzles before the game takes you back to the Map to find the next site.  It seemed to me that the only site you can access each time is the coloured one – the other sites have grey icons.

HOPs:   These are all sihouettes/shapes of items, although when you mouse-over the shapes in the list box each item is named for you.  This is a real help as most of the items you seek are very small!!  This makes the item search really difficult and a strain.  You can resort to the Hint – as I did a few times, especially during my first play-through.  Some of the Hops are hidden in a zoom site and others require ‘tools’ to be used on them.  There aren’t very many for each site – but it takes a log time to find them all.

Puzzles:   These are mostly okay, and are worth trying.  But there are definitely ones that need to be skipped immediately as they are of the unsolvable kind, and only increase the FF (Frustration Factor) tenfold.

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Game-play:   In between each location search you have to use the Lab Equipment to process the various pieces of evidence that you have collected.  This is a little tricky at first, but once you work out how to process each type it becomes easier.
Tip: Just remember that some of them may need several different solutions applied to them.
You also have to then use the Deduction Board to link some of the evidence to some of the Suspects and the Murder Scene.  This is also a little tricky, but trial and error and logic will get you there.
You then proceed to new Witnesses and new Suspects – reading their witness statements, and taking evidence off them using your Magnifying Glass. This all gains you new locations on the Map.

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Player Participation:   After the initial intro between Holmes and Watson, the Game-play settles down into its unusual format.  The player is involved in all steps, except for the dialogues between Holmes and Watson that occur occasionally.  At the end, when you have succeeded with your final Solution of the Evidence Board, H & W take over for a lengthy conversation informing you how the whole murder was committed and by whom.  It’s rather tedious and you find yourself wanting to not bother reading it – even though it is the whole point of the game, which is after all, a game about the great Sherlock Holmes!
Satisfaction Factor:  This is a shame.  There must be a better way of concluding the game, one that involves the player right through to the end.  It dissolves away most of the satisfaction in finally getting through the frustration of the difficult gameplay to the end, that wasn’t quite the end till you’d been told all about it.  Resolution is very important.  I point this out often.  It’s just better if most of the resolution is actual game-play.

Frustration Factors: This occurs right throughout the game – in particular not being able to exit a location during the game if you can’t go on.  You can of course go to Main Menu and Exit altogether, or you can press ESC which pauses the game.  If you have the Map button etc at the Top Left of the screen, then you may be able to move back and forth freely.  I certainly hope so.  For those of you with the Puzzle button, bad luck.  You just have to hang in there till you can find the missing items, and solve the Puzzles.  Resort to Hint when you’re really stuck.  And resort to Skip for the  no-fun Puzzles.

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Jud House 29/07/2017

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Posted in CRIME & MYSTERY, SHERLOCK HOLMES GAMES | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

ADAM WOLFE Series


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INVESTIGATOR OF THE PARANORMAL

by MAD HEAD WORLD; BIGFISH GAMES

Adam Wolfe: Flames of Time contains graphic content and is intended for mature audiences.

PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER; CRIME!

I would like to say from the outset that I really loved this game, which, from the SURVEY ‘Sneak Peak’, appeared to be in four Chapters:
1. The Ancient Flame;  2. The Devil You Know;  3. Lady and the Painter;  4. Zero Hour.

It had an interesting story that combined Murder with the Paranormal, and was definitely for Adults Only due to the graphic nature of the murders and the accompanying violence, which fortunately was more matter of fact than dragged out too long.  This was refreshing in this HOPA genre of games, and I thought almost on a par with the much missed, wonderful, CSI (computer) Series.  It was a fast moving, highly interactive game, in which you had to actually do all the actions as they occurred.  This did slow the game a little but that was fine because it was due to Player Participation.  The characters portrayed were believable both visually and via their voice actors, and divided easily into those I liked and those I didn’t.  I really disliked his annoying, misguided sister, Allie, throughout most of the game, and I reserve my judgement about her even after completion – see what you think.  The game became rather tense at times, the sense of urgency was always apparent.  I really liked it.

Upon completion of the Survey I earmarked it immediately for purchase, then waited a rather long time for it to be issued.  When it finally came out, I purchased it, then began to play it from the start again.  I thought it was a bit odd that the title was now ADAM WOLFE: FLAMES OF TIME, and that on the PLAY Menu there only appeared to be 1. The Ancient Flame as the main game, and the locked game 2. The Devil You Know.  Where were the other two chapters?

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Story:  Step into the shoes of Adam Wolfe, an investigator of the supernatural. Driven by your sister’s mysterious disappearance, venture through the shadowy streets of San Francisco where crime and paranormal occurrences intertwine. (Big Fish sales blurb)

Options & Main Menu:    Both very good, well set out.

Extras:   There were none as it is a Standard game.  The Game-Play didn’t miss them, but it would be nice to have the HOPs to revisit at the end of the game, or if you just want to visit it without playing it right through.

Music & Voice-Overs:   I’ve already said how good the Voice-Overs were; and the Music was excellent.  I kept mine turned down low as I always do, as I don’t need the stress that adds to the game’s growing tension.

Desktop:   Intense Focus EYE, REVOLVER, Time-changing WATCH (Left); INVENTORY /LISTS/RIDDLES (Centre); PHONE (Camera, Journal), MAP, HINT, MENU (Right)

Tutorial:   Excellent, efficient, not too intrusive – can be opted out of at any time.

Graphics:   As with most MAD HEAD games, these are delicious, grungy sometimes, really colourful at others, atmospheric where necessary (though a little too much in the HOPs), imaginative, detailing the characters and their environments into reality.  I was immersed almost at once into their worlds.

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Play Modes:  Easy, Medium, Hard, Custom – I use the last one wherever it’s offered.  And the more choices offered the better.

Map:  This was good, interactive, with the usual Key to its function options.

HOPs:   My only problem with these were that there weren’t heaps of them, though I believe I revisited some.  There were Progressive Lists, Interactive Lists and Silhouettes, Riddles/Storylines with individual WORDS highlighted that you need to find.

Puzzles/Mini-Games:   These were scattered throughout the game, requiring solving in order to collect or open or unlock or dismantle or repair or combine something.

Game-play:   This progressed logically, keeping you moving forward, compelling yet disturbing at times.  The mechanics of the game-play were okay, a little skittish at times with the mouse action, but that could be my PC and not generally.  It would be interesting to get feedback about that.  And of course it was the usual B&F, P&C (Back & Forth, Point & Click) which the Map helped to alleviate by allowing you to jump from site to site.  Interestingly, this actually adds to the sense of urgency, rather than interfere with the sense of the game by not passing back and forth through the various chambers to get from one site to the other.

So after a while ADAM WOLFE: BLOOD OF ETERNITY was released, in which 3. Lady and the Painter, and 4. Zero Hour were to be found.  Instead of making it a Crime game with 4 Cases, it became a Series of 2 Games with 2 Cases each.  Financially more lucrative.  If they’d added HOPs as an Extra at the end they could have called it a Collector’s Edition and charged twice as much.  Or they could have been generous to the Players giving them what the SURVEY promised.  Naturally I earmarked the second Adam Wolfe game for purchase, as I needed to find out how the story ended – though it’s always expected that the protagonist would be successful.

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Adam Wolfe: Blood of Eternity contains graphic content and is intended for mature audiences.

Story:   Following his previous two cases, Adam begins to unravel a new mystery. This time, Adam comes to the aid of a painter that is besieged by a ghost. In his investigation, he learns more about the same cult and that it might be somehow connected to his missing sister. Through mortal danger, he reunites the painter with his departed wife but also attains a solid lead about his sister.

For the final case, Adam finds his sister, but also the leader of the cult which took her, leading to a confrontation. He narrowly avoids death and ends up in a strange world that seems to be completely morphed even though it resembles reality. Battling madness, he manages to find his way back to reality where he sees that he is about to get killed by the cultists and their powerful leader. Instead, his sister sacrifices time and Adam avoids danger but ends up trapped in a place outside of this world. (Big Fish sales blurb)

All the parameters from the first game applied to the second game.  Of course.  It was a continuation of the Main Story of rescuing his sister.  The complexity of doing so had increased hugely as you can see by the above storyline, but the game-play actions remained the same.  It was engrossing, scary, thrilling, annoying, frustrating, and very tense.  The merging of the Crime elements with the Paranormal was masterful.  There was more violence, paranormal characters and activity, progressively carrying you forward towards the culmination. As you would expect, the anticipation levels rose the closer you got to the end.

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Frustration Factors: Then it was over.  Just that.  The ending was unsatisfactory, ambiguous.  There was absolutely not enough of the culmination shown, you didn’t participate in the culmination as a Player.  It was done, dusted, packed away.  If you blinked you missed it.  I was so annoyed.  I was disappointed by, let down by, and completely pissed off at the game producers.  If you are creating a story-based game, then, like a novel, you should allow your audience to see it through properly to the end.  So many games drop the Player at the end, saying the characters were saved/were happy together/saved the world/found the missing relative or item etc, THE END.  That is not right or fair to the Player, who the producers have asked/relied upon to become involved in the story of their game.

That is where this great game is let down.  It doesn’t live up to the CSI Series, whose Producers got it so right – if only they would do so again for PC.

Satisfaction Factor:   So bearing in mind all that I have have just said – this is a really good Crime game.  It is all it should be as you play through it.  It leaves you wanting more, each time you finish a Chapter/Case.  You can’t wait to get back to do the next one.  But it falls flat at the end.  If you only care about the Game-Play, then you will love this game!  If the satisfaction of the Culmination doesn’t bother you, you will have a great time.  Go for it!  In fact to all Crime/Paranormal fans I say “Go for it!”  Just be prepared for the end.  Of course, it is highly likely that there will be another ADAM WOLFE – PARANORMAL DETECTIVE GAME to follow.  I could suggest that that  is the excuse for the shut down ending.  It may be a reason, but it’s no excuse.

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I highly recommend this game.

Jud House 5/02/2017

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Posted in CRIME & MYSTERY, JUD'S VIEWS & TROUBLESHOOTING, SPOOKY GAMES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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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