Title: Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: Artefact Studios
Price: $39.99/39.99 Euro/£24.99
Release Date: Out now
Tagline: A good murder mystery game that plays a bit too easy.
Family Friendly: Click here to read more
Verdict: Wait for a sale
If one is looking to make a murder mystery game based off of a licensed property, a great source of inspiration would be any of the over sixty novels written by Agatha Christie. Her catalog has a wealth of characters, plots, and intrigue that can easily convert to the styles of a video game. Artefact Studios has taken up the mantle, using the ABC Murders novel as inspiration for their game. “Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders,” packages together a solid interpretation of the book in a video game form, even if it comes off a bit simple in design.
The ABC Murders is one of the darker novels released by Agatha Christie, and features one of her most famed creations, Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. As you may know, he’s a man who prefers using his wit and deductive charm rather than get his hands dirty. As in the novel, The ABC murders starts with the killer dropping a note at the residence of Poirot, informing him that he has committed murder, even giving the location of the crime in question. He wants to challenge the detective, stating that his intelligence is far superior than that of the famed detective Poirot.
As Detective Poirot, you have access to several different tools to use when deducting at the scene of a crime. You can interrogate, deduce, observe, and, of course, solve some puzzles, with each unlocking parts to the particular crime and how it occurred. Some of these mechanics require little work from the player. For instance, observations allow you to either look at a person, object, or area and move your stick around the screen to try and find a specific amount of hotspots in that area.
Other tools, however, can be very tricky to use, like the interrogation trees when talking to a witness. Poirot will have a choice of questions and tactics he can use with someone when he is questioning the person of interest. As you ask these questions, you will get screen prompts that let you know the state of the witness after each question. Navigating through these questions will determine how much information you get towards each crime scene. Reading the body language and trying to find the right tone for each person was surprisingly challenging, and there were several times where I thought I screwed up because questioning was cut off.
When you have scoured the scene and put together all the pieces together, you are presented with a board that requires you to present the motive, how the crimes were performed, or why someone might be a person of interest. It sounds cool in theory, but there is really no way to fail as you can just move topics around until the game tells you that you matched the correct information.
This is the problem in general with The ABC Murders, and it is that there is really no way to ever fail outright or pick a wrong path. Sure, the interrogations might leave you missing a bit of information here and there, but the main crux of the game will never lead you down a wrong path or picking a red herring. You always get the solution if only through trial and error.
The game also has a strange, cheap look about it. The art style is strange span>, but then again, The ABC Murders isn’t exactly going for ultra-realism. There are, however, times when the characters look odd and creepy, especially when in cutscenes.
Even with all of these weird quirks, “Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders,” does pull very well from the novel from which it is based. It comes off as a bit too simple, and the actual mystery solving will never tax your brain at any point, but it does give a solid experience of being in an Agatha Christie novel, and that should prove satisfactory for any murder mystery fan.
- The interrogation sequences can be tense to try and get the right path of questioning
- Follows the source material pretty faithfully
- The story behind the murders is pretty good
- No real way to fail any of the challenges outside of the interrogations
- Extremely linear in nature
- The character art looks somewhat creepy rather than stylized
Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders, while not overly violent in presentation, does deal with themes of murder, violence against women and some overbearing tendencies that might not stand up well with the younger audience. Maybe keep this one for the early teens and up to be safe.
This review was prepared using an Xbox One code provided by Microsoft.