Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders (2016)

 I didn't expect much of the Microïds published adventure game based on the well-known detective mystery starring Hercule Poirot. And I do have to confess it was largely because I was put off by the horrendous looking cell shaded character art of the game. I'm glad I did get it in the end though, as it is all in all a pretty fun ride. Albeit very familiar and unsurprising one, especially if you are familiar with the story already.

As a story the ABC Murders doesn't try to re-invent the Poirot classic: It begins when Poirot gets a letter, where a murdered signing himself as ABC tells of his intentions of killing someone. From this begins a waiting game, as Poirot has no means of stopping what is to come. The only thing he can do is to tell inspector Japp of the Scotland Yard, that something is going to happen in a near future. From this on, the game tramples the familiar paths of the original story as a story driven point and click adventure.

As you'd suspect, the puzzles revolve around Poirot checking out the crime locations as well as the locations of potential suspects. You need to gather evidence of which you'll have to draw conclusions by "making Poirot's grey cells to work". This means that you need to answer questions about the case in order to progress by connecting right statements and clues.

Then there's also some more typical adventure puzzles, like opening locked cabinets with combination locks, examining inventory objects and interacting with them to the surroundings and what not. But all this is fairly logical and the puzzles are, most of the time, very enjoyable, albeit not extremely challenging.

The most novel thing about the ABC Murders is the scoring systems, which rewards you every time you do things "just like Poirot would". This is achieved if you do vain things like checking yourself from a mirror, clean up messes or if you just speak during conversations just like Poirot would, you'll receive more points. I, for an example, got 487 of possible 600 points during my play through, so not quite like Poirot, but pretty close.

As I stated in the opening, I'm not a huge fan of the art style of this particular incarnation of the ABC Murders. Cell shading is a nice style, so it's not that. The biggest culprit here is the character design, which feels like it was left a couple of passes away from arriving into a more well rounded cartoonish style. Now a lot of the characters have a bit unnerving propotions and Gollum like thing going on with far too big eyes. Also the animation isn't particularly convincing either. The locations do work pretty well though.

All in all though, the ABC Murders is a solid game and a nice addition to the detective adventure games out there, especially because it does try to make the puzzles be about the case itself. Sure, there's a moment or two, when  you wonder why everyone seems to be obsessed about locking their cabinets with overly complex puzzle mechanics, but every time you get to deducing or just drawing conclusions about the people you meet, it's easy to forgive some of the other things.

Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders can be bought through GOG or Steam and maybe some other platforms as well. It's a nice game if you're into detective stories, even if you're familiar with the original story itself. It doesn't try to re-invent the wheel, but then again, when the form works, why bother.