Agatha Christie: Evil under the Sun is the third Agatha Christie adventure from Florida-based developer AWE Games. The prelude for the game starts out months after one of Hercule Poirot’s cases, with Poirot talking to his friend Hastings. The year is 1940, with World War II just getting into full swing, and when air raid sirens start going off, Poirot and Hastings decide to spend the evening discussing that earlier case, with Poirot describing the events and Hastings trying to figure out what happened.
That is, when you actually get to start playing the adventure, you control Hastings, who is in turn pretending to be Poirot. That set-up sounds sort of odd, but it works well, because the pair spends a lot of time discussing what’s going on, and their banter is often funny to listen to. It also makes you feel more like you’re in charge of the investigation, which wasn’t the case in Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express, where you played Poirot’s assistant.
If you’re not familiar with the source material (and this is the first entry in the series where I wasn’t), the case takes place on an island resort off the coast of England. A movie actress named Arlena Stuart is strangled to death on the beach, and Poirot has to figure out which of the many guests at the resort committed the crime. Just about everybody has a motive -- Stuart liked to play the field, and so upset wives, spurned lovers, and an embarrassed husband are only a few of the suspects. Meanwhile, new in the game, Poirot also has to deal with Nazi spies, ghosts, buried treasure, and drug smugglers.
Unfortunately, Evil under the Sun isn’t much of an adventure. Like Murder on the Orient Express before it, there is only one even halfway complicated puzzle to solve, and mostly what you do is wander around, talk to people, pick up inventory objects, and then use those objects in basic ways. For example, early in the game you agree to build a blind for a girl who wants to watch the local pigeons. If you click on the ground where the blind is going to go, the game actually tells you what you’ll need for it, and even though that description is a little bit misleading, it still takes almost no effort to put the thing together.
Fortunately, the interface for the game makes it friendly to play. All of Poirot’s activities are controlled via the left mouse button, and clicking the right mouse button opens up your inventory, allowing you to combine or otherwise use the objects that you’ve picked up. Evil under the Sun is one of those games where doing something in one location often triggers some event in another location -- for example, picking up an object in one of the hotel rooms might give you a new topic of discussion with one of the suspects -- but again the interface makes it easy to track everything down. Poirot won’t ever run (heaven forbid), but if you double click on an exit, you’ll immediately move to the next location, and so it doesn’t take long to search through the resort to find where the next event is located.
Also, the production values for the game are excellent. All of the voice actors do a terrific job with their lines, which is a good thing considering how much dialogue there is, and the visuals, while not spectacular, get the job done. Really, Evil under the Sun works better as an interactive movie than it does an adventure, and it is geared more towards people who want to participate in a book and trigger events themselves, rather than people who want to exercise their “little grey cells” and solve puzzles. If you find yourself in the former group, then it’s easy to recommend Evil under the Sun; it should provide you with a dozen hours of enjoyment. But if you’re more in the latter group, you might want to look elsewhere, such as at the similarly-themed Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened.