Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express
Agatha Christie is known as the ‘Queen of Crime.’ Apparently some find her stories worth a game, but as we know from movies turned into games, successful books aren’t necessarily successful games.
You play as Antoinette Marceau, a new character, invented for this game. Antoinette works for Mr. Bouc and represents him on the train (so Bouc isn’t there himself, unlike the book). Her job is to make sure that Hercule Poirot has a great time on the Orient Express. When Poirot gets hurt, it’s Antoinette who has to take over the investigation of the recently committed murder in the train.
The storyline remains faithful to the book with once in a while some changes, like a couple of scenes outside in the snow after the murder. An extra storyline has been added but that particular piece of the story doesn’t really come forward a lot during the game. Only at the end this extra piece becomes clear but it’s too melodramatic and it just doesn’t fit. It’s like it has simply been pasted behind the original story pro forma.
The whole game revolves of course around the collecting of evidence. Unfortunately it comes too often down to the same, like the endless questioning of the other characters for instance. Real puzzles don’t come along so often and the objectives you get are boring, like collecting (a lot of) fingerprints and passports from all the train travellers. Luckily you still have some environment puzzles. Here too there are some things which aren’t in the book, but mainly it’s the same.
Subtle there are two difficulty levels. At some point Poirot asks you if you want to take on a challenge or if you’re happy enough just helping him. If you choose the latter, you’ll get extra hints when solving riddles and you can always ask Poirot for help. If you take on the challenge, you get no extra hints and asking Poirot for help means one point for him. Winning or losing this challenge doesn’t seem to have any effect, so consider it a battle for the honour.
As usual in adventure games, you sometimes get to choose from a series of sentences. Which one you pick has almost never a different result or every sentence has to be said anyway. Unfortunately crashes lurk around the corner, resulting in a completely lost game if you don’t save often enough. At no time the game is saved automatically.
The graphics are rather classic and the characters move and behave quite unnatural. Music is rare which is too bad as it’s actually good. The voices aren’t bad, but sometimes a bit too dull. David Suchet, who impersonated Hercule Poirot on screen, gives his voice to the Belgian sleuth in this game too. Very nice.
The same problem as always with licence games: what works for this medium, doesn’t necessarily work for that medium. In other words: the book ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ might be great, this game certainly isn’t.