Game Over Online ~ Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None

GameOver Game Reviews - Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (c) The Adventure Company, Reviewed by - Steven Carter

Game & Publisher Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (c) The Adventure Company
System Requirements Windows, 850MHz processor, 256MB RAM, 32MB video card, 1.5GB HDD, 16X CD-ROM
Overall Rating 79%
Date Published Monday, December 5th, 2005 at 11:08 AM

Divider Left By: Steven Carter Divider Right

Agatha Christie wrote the book Ten Little Indians in 1939. Just to show you how long ago that was, and how different a time it was, Ten Little Indians was only the American title for the book. In the UK it was published as Ten Little Niggers. Fortunately, the book wasn’t about the title; instead, the title referred to a nursery rhyme quoted in the story, and so the book only contained offensive words rather than offensive subject matter, and so it became one of Christie’s more popular works, generating half a dozen films (generally named And Then There Were None), countless stage plays, and now a computer game.

Ten Little Indians is a dark thriller. In the story, ten people are invited to an island, only to have their host accuse them of murder via a recording. Then the people start dying in accordance to a nursery rhyme, and, as their numbers dwindle, they get more and more paranoid, finally turning on each other. The game Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None uses the same premise as the book, but you play as Patrick Narracott, the boatman who takes the guests to the island. In the book, the boatman does his job and then leaves, but in the game somebody sabotages the boat after landing on shore, and so you’re stuck on the island along with the guests / victims.

At this point you might guess that And Then There Were None would do what a lot of computer games do -- that is, take great liberties with the subject matter. I mean, if you’re going to add in an extra character who wasn’t in the book, and if you’re going to add in some puzzles to make it into an adventure game, then what else might you do? In fact, at the start of the game it looked like developer Awe Games was going to make up all sorts of new stuff, as you find out things like that one of the guests is really a spy, that the British Navy used the island for some secret experiments, and that your character has a history with one of the other guests -- none of which is in the book.

But, surprisingly, And Then There Were None is pretty faithful to the source material. About half of the dialogue in the game is quoted directly from the book, the murders happen as they’re supposed to, and the layout of the house, and some of the activities you’re allowed to perform, are right out of the 1945 movie And Then There Were None. But don’t worry; even if you’ve read the book and seen the movies, Awe Games put their own spin on the ending, and so you’ll still need to keep a close watch on the guests to figure out what’s going on.

Oddly, although And Then There Were None is a game of investigation -- among other things, you’re allowed to jury-rig a system for collecting fingerprints -- you won’t find a whole lot for Patrick Narracott to do. Using a simple point-and-click interface, you’ll need to explore the house and grounds, pick up a few clues and other objects, and solve a few puzzles, but mostly what you’ll do is talk to the surviving guests over and over to advance the plot. The dialogue is acted competently, so it’s not a chore to listen to it, but the game doesn’t do a good job of capturing the tension and paranoia of the book, and so it’s not always especially exciting, either.

Speaking of the puzzles, they’re generally pretty bad, and so it’s just as well that there aren’t very many of them. The game is not at all friendly about giving you clues to solve puzzles, half of the puzzles, if you solve them at all, don’t lead to anything, and for a few of the puzzles my reaction was (after invariably looking up the solution in a walkthrough) “You’ve got to be kidding!” That’s never a good sign.

As an example -- and skip this paragraph if you don’t want a spoiler -- at one point you’re walking down a path, but an aggressive goat blocks your path. Examining the goat doesn’t generate any sort of helpful description, and the most obvious answer, to befriend the goat by feeding it an apple, doesn’t work. So what do you do? You fill up a nearby trough with water, because obviously the goat is simply thirsty, and blocking the path is how it encourages people to give it a drink. Uh huh. That might be an ok puzzle if the game gave you a clue about the situation, or if it indicated that the trough was an object you could use, or if you could even tell that the trough was a trough (it looked like part of a fence to me), but it doesn’t do any of those things, and the puzzles aren’t a lot of fun.

All in all, Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None, feels incomplete. It feels like developer Awe Games worked out all of the dramatic scenes in the game, but then had trouble figuring out how to incorporate puzzles into the story, and then ran out of time before they could come up with an answer. As a result, the puzzles in And Then There Were None are equal parts laughable, bizarre, and inconsequential, and the game isn’t one you’ll likely enjoy if you buy adventures to test out your “little grey cells” (to quote another Agatha Christie character). But if you enjoy adventures simply to take part in a story, then And Then There Were None works out well enough, adapting as it does a time-honored and engrossing book, and putting you center stage in it. I like both sorts of adventures, and I enjoyed the 10 hours I spent with And Then There Were None enough that I’m giving the game an above-average score, but I can’t shake the feeling that people would have a better time just reading the book (which, conveniently, is included with the game).

(31/40) Gameplay
(11/15) Graphics
(12/15) Sound
(07/10) Interface
(08/10) Storyline
(05/05) Technical
(05/05) Documentation


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