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Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None Review

Dame Agatha Christie is the celebrated author of over 75 novels and is regarded by many as the best mystery writer of all time.  From her storied character Hercule Poirot, to her heroine sleuth Miss Marple, Agatha Christie has made numerous contributions to the mystery genre and is easily one of the best selling mystery novelists all time.

 

The novel And Then There Were None, or Ten Little Indians as I remembered it, was published for the first time back in 1939 and is still regarded by many readers--myself included--as the best murder mystery novel ever written.  There was also a 1945 movie version of "And Ten There Were None," although it is filmed in black and white and may be a bit much for modern movie audiences.  Even 2003’s movie "Identity" borrowed elements from this story and those who saw that movie will recognize it fairly quickly.  Still, having hyped up the source material, is there any possible way that a game adaptation of a beloved novel, designed as a traditional point and click adventure game, actually be any good?

 

 

Gameplay

 

You will take on the role of Patrick Narracott, the enigmatic brother of the Boat Keeper, who appears to have a bit of a dark past himself.  Patrick Naracott is a new character and by his very admittance, it is obvious that this "gamer version" of Christie’s story is a little different.  You quickly find yourself stranded on a small island with 10 strangers, each of whom also seem to have a story or two behind each of them.  When members of this strange dinner party begin dying one by one, it quickly becomes clear that foul play is afoot and it’s up to you to stop the killer and prevent yourself from becoming the next victim.

 

As I have said on a few occasions, when it comes to games in the adventure genre, gameplay is often very formulaic and not entirely inspired.  This game will sadly fit into that category as we see that it is clearly a 3rd person perspective, point and click adventure game.

 

Having said that, I do have to suggest that you not to despair entirely, as despite being a rather standard PC adventure game, it does manage to avoid the problems that other games in the genre contain.  You will find a welcome lack of mazes and slider puzzles in-game and this certainly makes this title more accessible to a wider audience.

 

"You will find a welcome lack of mazes and slider puzzles in-game and this certainly makes this title more accessible to a wider audience."

 

As a point-and-click game, you are essentially bound by the ability to walk towards an object or run towards it.  There are no real arcade portions to the game, so you will not need to worry about having fast reflexes or even have to rely on any type of luck whatsoever. 

 

 

The dialogue in-game is handled by offering a variety of choices of what to say to each of the characters.  Unfortunately, the choices rarely differed from character to character, and I did not see any choices which actually affected the game experience at all.  This creates a situation in which you feel very little control over the investigation your character has embarked on and this certainly makes the game feel more like an interactive movie.

 

As far as the inventory of the game goes, you will find it to be slightly different than the average adventure game.  For starters, you are able to collect numerous items throughout the game, and I do mean numerous.  In fact, there are so many items, that I can recall at least a handful that you never actually use.  On the inventory screen, you will find a small set of four boxes which you can put up to four items into.  Once the items are in, you will find a small gear icon, which is used for combining the items.  This is a somewhat interesting ability, but it is used sporadically and you never really find any in-game help or hints for how or when to use this.

 

In addition to the inventory, you also have a notebook which keeps track of the various books, and pieces of paper and information you come across during your investigation.  All this really does is to allow you to not worry about having to write anything down while you play the game.  You will find that your investigation is mainly done for you and I think other than one or two times, I didn’t make much use of the notebook.

 

The game contains only a few real puzzles and only one that will require a bit of the old-fashioned patience/lack of logic that these adventure games often inspire in gamers.  There is one puzzle involving forming a phrase with a series of blocks and the phrase formed is so random, that many gamers will just jump online and find a walkthrough.  Certainly when I finally guessed the solution, I was unable to find the phrase I used anywhere inside of the game.

 

There are a few portions and areas in the game where you will have the ability to assemble devices and interact with objects.  Strangely, most of these objects and areas will not affect the game at all.  Much of the game will simply be roaming the entire island, area by area, until you trigger some new event which will move the plot along.

 

"Much of the game will simply be roaming the entire island, area by area, until you trigger some new event which will move the plot along."

 

Graphics

 

Graphically And Then There Were None offers a few options, including anti-aliasing, as well as turn off various effects like water effects and fog.  Still, for an adventure game being released with some hype, based on a much beloved license, I expected more from the sights than those that were shown to me.

 

"...I expected more from the sights..."

 

The game's cutscenes are nice, but they don’t do a great a job of capturing the essence of the game--like those used Still Life--nor do the cut scenes ever seem to add much to the overall atmosphere of the game--like Fahrenheit was able to accomplish.  These scenes are used entirely too intermittently and never really achieve the cinematic feel that I was hoping for.

 

While the adventure genre is not known for its graphics, there are graphically better games that were made two years ago.  Plus, those games did a better job of improving the game that what is used here.

 

 

Sound

 

While sound and music in a mystery game would seem an easy thing to accomplish, again I find that Awe games and the Adventure Company missed the boat somewhere.  The in-game music is pleasant and doesn’t ever really annoy you as you play.  Having said that, it never really helps to capture or convey any of the mentions that should be brought forth in a murder mystery game. Even at the end of the game, when you finally achieve some sense of urgency, the music doesn’t do much to capture the moment.

 

I found the voice acting to be a very mixed bag.  While characters like Justice Wargrave and Emily Brent were exactly as I expected them to be from reading the book.  The delivery of the characters, their emotional ranges and even their intonation were spot on.  Sadly, the remaining characters, especially the character of Naracott, just never really seemed to convey any believable emotion.  You would stumble across a body and everybody would just seem perplexed, but not really sad nor shocked nor even frightened by what they saw.  The disconnect was just too much for me to look past while I played and this definitely will hurt the player’s enjoyment, since you will be listening to a lot of voice acting throughout your adventures on Shipwreck Island.

 

Multiplayer

 

This game contained no multiplayer component and will not be rated for one.

 

Replay Value

 

The overall game experience will range from around 8 hours to perhaps 10 hours depending on your adventure gaming experience, your patience and your willpower to avoid looking at walkthroughs.

 

While you won’t really find any branching paths included, there are four different endings to the game.  I am not certain that it was worthwhile playing through to see all of them, but it was still a nice touch to have them included.  I am definitely happy that they chose to change the plot a little bit, as it created a completely new gameplay experience for gamers like me who read the book before playing the game.  There were a few plot twists and changes in the plot which completely caught me off-guard.  I wasn’t able to figure out the ending until it was there in front of me and for a mystery that’s what you hope for.

 

One small added feature, which requires you to solve a puzzle after beating the game, is the ability to see the ending of the story as Agatha Christie had written it.  I won’t say more, other than to point out that you should read the book prior to watching this special ending.

 

Conclusion

 

From the moment I read the release about And Then There Were None, I had been eagerly waiting for its release.  This was an adventure game, (a genre I truly love on the PC) based on a book and movie which I really enjoyed while I was growing up.  I even re-read the book in anticipation of the game’s release.  So you can imagine my disappointment when the final game loaded up onto my computer and turned into a merely average point and click adventure game.

 

When this year brings forth innovative adventure games like Fahrenheit, or the amazingly cinematic and immersive Still Life, you begin to think that perhaps game designers have realized that not only can adventure games be made fun, but they can learn from their past mistakes.  And Then There Were None, out of the box, plays today as if it had been made for the PC as far back as five years ago. Perhaps back then it would have seemed immersive and unique and played as something special.  Still, if you are a major fanatic for adventure games, this will likely end up being more fun than Post Mortem, but a far cry from The Longest Journey.

 

I need to make it clear that the storyline for the game is still top notch, as certainly the writers did a fairly good job of adapting the classic story to an adventure game format.  Still, a great story can only take a gamer so far.  The lack of interactivity, the small number of puzzles and the inclusion of unnecessary puzzles all take away from the game. 

 

"...a great story can only take a gamer so far."

 

If they have PC games that are shooters on rails, then this may be the first adventure game on rails.  Once you get past the first few chapters, the game seems to move way too fast for you to enjoy the experience. The $29.99 price point is made bearable only by the inclusion of the paperback novel of And Then There Were None.  This almost makes the game a solid value, however for those who are dedicated to buying and playing it, at least wait until it drops in price.  As such, this game finds itself best described as merely average.

 

 

Key High Points

- Solid Adaptation of a classic novel

- Multiple Endings and a special novel ending

 

Key Low Points

- Average graphics

- Fairly poor voice acting

- Semi-linear gameplay




6.7/10
Gameplay: 6


Graphics: 7


Sound: 5


Multiplayer (if applicable): 0


Value: 7


Genre:
Adventure
Release Date:
October 25, 2005
Publisher:
The Adventure Company
Developer:
AWE Games
ESRB Rating:
T - Teen
Teen
Min. Requirements:


• Win 98/ME/2000/XP
• Pentium 3 800MHz CPU or equivalent
• 256MB RAM
• 32MB video card
• 16X (or PC DVD-ROM drive)
• 16-bit Sound Blaster Compatible sound card
• 800MB HDD space