by Marcus Mulkins
reviewed on PC
It seems that there has been a fair amount of interest in the works of Agatha Christie lately. The Adventure Company in particular has been creating numerous games based on her books in recent years: And Then There Was None, and Murder on the Orient Express to name just two. Having played both of those, when I heard that Death on the Nile was about to appear, I thought I knew what to expect.
I was wrong.
Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile has been published by Oberon Games, a predominantly online casual gaming company, and written by Oberon co-founder, Jane Jensen. For those people that actually look at the credits from games, you may recognize her as the author of the old Sierra horror adventure series, Gabriel Knight. (Damn good stuff; I wish Sierra had kept the series going.) However, this is not an actual adventure game. The emphasis is on casual gaming. Whereas, in an adventure game you may expect a lot of cutscenes between bouts of room interaction and elaborate puzzle solving, with varying amounts of action tossed in, a casual game is much more relaxed, passive, and cerebral. About on a par with filling in the Sunday crossword puzzle. So, don't expect anything to get your heart pounding or fingers twitching.
Just like the book
Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile is based exactly on the book, so if you've read it or seen the movie, you already know whodunit. (Unlike the The Adventure Company versions of Christie's novels where it's anybody's guess who the perpetrator is.) On the upside, the graphics are exquisite, with considerably more detail clutter than you're probably used to in games. What passes for cutscenes is akin to the opening sequence of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' with paper cutouts of the characters sliding across the sets. Changes of focus in those scenes are accomplished by using subtitled comic book frame popups and overlays as dialogue switches from one character to another. For additional 'flavor', fade-in and fade-out is often done like a Silent Movie era film roll. Overall, it's actually visually quite pleasing.
Having set the stage, the investigation begins. Poirot has been tasked to look everywhere and examine everything. The overall investigation has been broken up into one sub-investigation for each person on board. Unfortunately, you as the player have no say as to the order in which the suspects' quarters are searched. You are presented with Person #1 (in this case, the victim, Linnette Doyle), dead in her bedroom. And here is where you encounter the single largest variance from the usual adventure game.
Back in 1961, there was a TV game show entitled 'Camouflage'. Contestants were presented with a line drawing of a jumbled clutter of objects. Somewhere in that drawing was a specific object that they were required to locate. After each failed 10-second search, some of the clutter would be removed. Rounds continued until one player or the other finally found the item.
No Pros and Cons at this time