February 26, 2006

[Review] Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None"

A simple game, a simple haiku review:
multiple endings
do not matter if my wife
cannot complete one
In other words, if an intelligent women with a background of playing adventure games backed by a very straightforward walkthrough cannot complete your 90% linear game, there may be an issue.

1 comment:

Okie said...

I just finished this game as well. I was saddened to have to use the walkthrough for portions of it.

Most of the times I had to consult the walkthrough turned out to be times when you basically had to waste time going back and forth talking to the same character again or re-exploring rooms you've explored...with no new discovery...just to make time pass.

Granted, it was interesting to have a "real time" situation where you actually had to stall for a bit, but generally there was no in-game cue to let you know that the thing you were waiting for actually happened and so you would move forward hoping you waited enough. (I found this especially when trying to view the alternate endings).

All in all it was an enjoyable game and fairly true to the novel in spirit. I think Dame Christie would be pleased (if she were one to play a computer game) with the tone of the game...

[WARNING: Potential spoilers below..mostly masked and vague, but there nonetheless]

However, I was still disappointed (and will continue to be disappointed) with the obvious lack of resources made available to the adventure drama.

There were so many flaws and so much lack of polish that the game often had me laughing at the absurdity of the appearances of things. My favorite is the "fight scene" at the end when the hero struggles with the murderer. The animations in that scene are particularly ridiculous...the characters skating along the scene, pushing against each other, no facial or other real body animation.

Just prior to that is a scene (depending on the alternate ending you try for) where you save a fellow castaway from an explosion. The timing of that situation is hideous making it feel very unrealistic.

Many of the character models are very unpolished which is very sad since most of the cut scenes involve close up facial shots where you can see evidence of a lot of clipping or model separation.

The ambient audio and music are good, something I've come to expect from The Adventure Company. However, the dialog left something to be desired. It was often stiff and often wasn't implanted well into the scene leading to obvious cutting in/out.

The puzzles were nearly non-existant and very tacked on. Reading through the entire walkthrough after the game, I found that there were numerous "side quests" that I missed out on because they were far from obvious or at all presented to the player. (An example is giving a character a glass of honey after extracting said honey...I happened to get the honey but had no idea what to do with it and so took it to the end of the game...I gave another character a glass of apple juice because she asked for it, and in so doing she monologued for a minute about another character). Even some of the required puzzles seemed to have no rightful evidence as to how to solve them...for example the means of opening the secret door to the underground cavern by spelling out words...not only did the words seem to be pulled from thin air (having a thin relation to other elements, but nothing really concrete, despite the hero's comment after solving it) but the layout of the boxes made it appear that you were looking for 3 four letter words which sadly was not the case.

Other puzzles seemed to exist merely for the purpose of having puzzles in the game. The game waited to proceed in the story until you had completed the puzzle (examples: raft, parachute) even though these puzzles did not truly contribute to the story.

The one potential "puzzle" that I wish had actually been implemented and played into something was the usage of the various cards left by "Owen" around the island. I found a bunch of them and kept hoping that maybe there was something of a larger purpose to them rather than just having a collection of "fortune cookie" cards from Mr. Owen.

In any case, I enjoyed playing the game and will continue to purchase adventure games because I enjoy them and because I sincerely hope that one day the industry will start pumping money back into this genre so that we can have new adventure games of this potential depth with the polish and flair of the "action-adventure" games that are out there.