by Chris O’Neal
Agatha Christie —
The ABC Murders
Available Feb 4, $29.99
Xbox One/Playstation 4
available Feb 23, $39.99
Many nights of my early to late 20s were spent in front of the television. Not gaming, no; rather, I was enamored with the meticulous world of Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective made famous in dozens of novels by mystery writer Agatha Christie.
David Suchet portrayed the detective in Agatha Christie’s Poirot on British television, playing host to his famous mustache. Now, you, too, can rock the ’stache and solve some murders as Poirot in Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders for the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC.
Poirot becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of a shopkeeper whose death seemingly has a connection to a clue received by mail, signed “A.B.C.” I was expecting a point-and-click puzzler in the vein of Professor Layton but was pleasantly surprised by how much autonomy you have as Poirot to investigate the surroundings.
Use the mouse to move the detective at his own pace. A pair of glasses will appear to signal that there are items to be examined in a particular area, and once you’ve discovered them, Poirot quips on their merit to the case. When questioning a witness or your colleagues (Inspector Japp or your sidekick Hastings, for instance) the game really shines, as you become immersed in Poirot’s personality.
Speaking with Inspector Japp, the Scotland Yard detective, Poirot can determine his mood by visual inspection. For instance, his hat on in a casual manner (if there is such a thing) and a slight smile on his face give Poirot the impression that Japp believes he has already solved the case — which fans of the books or the show will attest is rare.
As a fan of puzzle games, The ABC Murders joins a long list of satisfying experiences. Several puzzles within the first 15 minutes of the game involve intricate, 3-D locks that take a few moments to understand. A cabinet in the victim’s bedroom offers up at first a simple slide puzzle featuring three rotating sections. This is then followed by a puzzle featuring rotating buttons, which in turn allows for the opening of said cabinet and the clues therein.
If you’re stuck, however, there is help in the “little grey cells,” a reference to Poirot’s well-known assistant in solving clues — his brain. Clues can be used to give guidance on how to solve a puzzle or where to look for pieces to put together answers, which is a small game in itself. My favorite feature, however, is the appeal to Poirot’s ego. One can actually collect “ego points” by acting like Poirot, that is, inspecting your mustache in a mirror or by patting yourself on the back after solving a puzzle.
Where the game shows its careful attention to detail is in the voice acting. Suchet had perfected the voice of Poirot, so I couldn’t imagine anyone even coming close. The voice actor in The ABC Murders, however, captures Poirot’s accent very well, as do the voice actors behind Hastings and Inspector Japp.
Published by Paris, France-based Microïds and developed by Artefacts Studio out of Lyon, The ABC Murders is a welcome installment in the world of the mystery solving (and best-selling) detective known as Hercule Poirot. Use your own little grey cells and resolve to pick this up via Steam today, Feb. 4, or on Tuesday, Feb. 23 on the Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Chris O’Neal is probably going to have an Agatha Christie’s Poirot marathon this weekend. Follow him on Instagram @atchrisoneal.