Based on the book by the same name, the “murder by letters” mystery is now in app form! I recently got to play the game, but wasn’t sure what to expect. My mystery game experience was all Nancy Drew, and I’d only read one Agatha Christie novel (And Then There Were None). But the game didn’t disappoint, and my lack of familiarity with Ms. Christie’s novels wasn’t a detriment. It’s perfect for families to play together, for adults to play casually, or for kids to sink their teeth into a good mystery.
With its tapping and swiping interface, Agatha Christie: The A.B.C. Murders has a very shallow learning curve. Small white circles appear wherever there is something to interact with, to get information or advance the game. No random tapping necessary. And players are pulled in right away with an intriguing storyline. The game begins by setting the scene of the first murder. After that, it’s up to you to solve the crime!
So, acting as famous detective Hercule Poirot, you interview witnesses, investigate the crime scene, and mull over clues. Piece it all together with your little grey cells and narrow down the details. But wait! Just when you think you don’t have enough information, there’s another murder! Going through the same process for each murder ultimately leads you to be able to unmask the killer.
Though the app’s gameplay doesn’t last as long as the Nancy Drew games I’ve played, and the built-in puzzles are easier, it’s perfect for the casual mystery solver. And, with the included subtitles, you can turn the sound off so as to not disturb anyone, allowing for play just about anywhere. The interface is also quite beautiful, putting you into a semi-3D set.
So, how is this game organized?
The game includes a gripping story, over a dozen puzzles to solve, and the adventure of several murders to investigate. Though you’re not in it alone—your buddy Hastings and Inspector Japp are by your side for some of the game.
The steps to figuring out the major details of each murder are these:
Observation—You are put into the action as you observe specific details about parts of the crime scene, witnesses, and other game details.
Interrogation—You must question witnesses and suspects with multiple choice options. Choose those which best reflect what Poirot would choose, based on what is most likely to get the person to talk.
Collection and Use of Items—There are a few items that you can collect through the game that will aid your progress.
Puzzles—There are over a dozen puzzles to solve in the game which are necessary for moving on to the next step.
Little Grey Cells—This famous name for Poirot’s brain cells are little logical puzzles that players get to figure out several times per murder. Read through all the offered clues and choose which ones are relevant to the particular question, such as, “What time did the murder take place?”
Reconstruction—After each case has been thoroughly investigated, reconstruct the crime from the details you have learned. If you make the wrong choices, your reconstruction fails and you have to try again.
As you play the game, try to make choices that Poirot himself would choose. Anything you do that matches his personality earns you ego points. If you’re ever unsure what to do next, check your list of objectives. The included notebook also lists all the details of the people you interview. The game also includes a timeline of events, crime reconstructions that you can re-watch, and 50 trophies to unlock.
As you play, tips and instructions are displayed at the top of the screen, so keep your eyes open! You can pause at any time, though I found that pausing in the wrong place and picking it back up the next day caused me to start a scene earlier than where I last stopped.
The game includes three save profiles, so it’s easy to share with your kids. The game saves automatically as you go. Also, you can ask for clues along the way if you get stuck. The game includes 10 free clues, or you can buy more with real money. But, in my opinion, the game isn’t so tricky that you’d need to spend that additional money.
Will you solve the murder before Hercule Poirot?
Agatha Christie: The A.B.C. Murders just came out on September 29th of this year and costs $6.99 for iOS and Android.
Note: I received a redeem code for this game for review purposes.