Santa Fe Mysteries: The Elk Moon Murder (1996)

Back in the glorious '90s, there was a genre fad above all others: the FMV games. These either live acted or animated movie clip hunts got a pretty poor reputation fast, as they were often limited, poorly written, directed and acted. But a handful of them is actually pretty decent, like the Tex Murphy games. Santa Fe Mysteries: The Elk Moon Murder, while not a great game by any means, belongs to that small pretty decent group only because it's relatively well acted little interactive movie about a murder of an artist and activist Anna  Elk Moon. In a solid cop movie fashion, you and your partner have 5 days to solve the case before the feds jump in.

The gameplay of Elk Moon Murder is as simple as it gets: you have a map with locations and a PDA (obviously, because of the '90s) for evidence checks and other police work. In locations, you mostly interview people, in the murder site you can even check out the evidence. You send your findings to the crime lab, which then sends the results to your PDA.  The game has a 5-day limit, each interview and evidence check takes time. At some point, you need to make the call on whom to arrest. And that's that.

From here you can choose where you want to see the next video clip
As I said, it's not much of a game, but despite the obviously small budget, it is a relatively well-written tale of greed and deception. Okay, it's not by any means a noir murder mystery, it does try to stay much closer to a real investigation and that's probably why I like it: it reminds me a bit of Police Quest, but with a lesser focus on procedure. On the same note, it's probably just as well if you just watch a playthrough of it through YouTube. The only difference with playing it yourself is to the possibility to cock up the case.

The acting is overall pretty decent. While there are no huge name actors in the cast, the one who popped out to me was Marc Alaimo, whom might be familiar, if not in face, at least in voice for those who've watched Star Treks series, in which he played several alien roles, including Gal Dukat in Deeps Space 9.

In any case, Santa Fe Mysteries: The Elk Moon Murder, while not a great game, is one of those interesting little pieces from the history of computer games. It was made at the point of time, when it was clear to everyone, that FMV would be the future of gaming. And then 3D became a more sensible solution.