Lemme drop some knowledge on you.
If you've played a murder mystery game, where there is an element of detective skills, multiple suspects and always an underlying subplot that runs deeper than just plain killing, then chances are quite high the game was influenced by the works of Agatha Christie
"Just sitting here, wishing I were doing shots"
is pretty well known, but in a completely non-sexual manner, the lady's work is an untapped pot of potential in terms of game design. She wasn't the only writer of that genre of literature, but she is one of the best. There are many, many films and television series based on her works or adapted from the ideas put out in her various short stories. But in terms of gaming, there aren't many out there. Unless you count those hidden object games, which I don't. Not to belittle them as games, but they're not utilising the basic, consistently intriguing and entertaining narrative and impressiveness that comes with a 'murder mystery'.
I'm talking murder yo'
One of my favourite types of games are the plot twisting, intriguing, mystery tales and they usually come in point 'n' click
game play. This type of game play has been around for quite a while and for some reason or another I often found it to be quite fun and there was something about these games that felt different from other ones, something more immersive, something that could give you chills or keep you playing for a long time, on a different level to shooters ect and while that is clearing down to principle traits such as story writing and atmosphere, which can be found in heavy supply in RPG's there was still something unique about point 'n' clicks. I mean look at the difference in the experience of playing Resident Evil
. Two games under the horror tag and yet aside from game play style, one clearly does it's category a truer justice. I think that's what I'm trying to get at. Murder mystery adventure games have this essence of truth about them...in some manner.
Many games emulate and expand on the basic mystery concept. Secret Files: Tunguska
, Moment of Silence
, even non-PC games like Another Code
being a very small example.
But there is always a heightened element of conspiracy and sometimes something other-worldly or unnatural about them. Everything these days needs to mean something more for some reasons, games have to conduct internal and external debates regarding their standing in the world of art, controversy and this need to evolve because apparently people have asked for more, asked for a complete revolution. Most people are quite pleased if something contains the essence with which they first fell in love with it, especially in games. So while we all focus on graphically polished, interactive, crazy games out there, I feel as if a revival, a renaissance of something that doesn't need to try to hard is needed and that people are missing out.
What gaming needs are more simple detective mystery games. What the industry needs is Agatha Christie to come back and show them how it's done.
And Then There Were None
is a Christie point 'n' click adventure that takes all the standard plot ingredients of a good mystery story.
Also it features Carolyn Seymour as the voice actress for Emily Brent. That's right, that woman with that awesome voice that does snark so well and is the real reason Bioware sells any games.
Murder on the Orient Express
and Evil under the Sun
never quite grasped the same simply, fun experience of investigating whilst confined to the perils of isolation with the would-be murderer or murderers. Atmosphere can make or break a game, film or book. If an Alien
game was made were disco balls and Gotye songs draped every neon corridor, it wouldn't be the same.
A good book, read alone in the dark, rife with atmosphere, brilliant writing and catering to that common fantasy of being intrigued by the unknown or nefarious possibilities does wonders for us on a personal enjoyment level. Imagine what that would be like in an immersive game that followed the same example. Agatha Christie doesn't write horror stories, a lot of her works are set in mansions or villages, where everyone has their secrets and yes murders happen, but there's no sense of torture, no requirement of fear. Which some people find they might need, that one end of the spectrum or other syndrome, neglecting the option to simply enjoy something that isn't over the top.
These games exist, they’re there but they need to be appreciated, they deserve a mainstream plugging and to be adored with the same reverence as the ink and paper based material their essence comes from.
Dive into a mystery game, immerse yourself in the story and let yourself feel like you’re a detective, instead of just a gun attached to half an arm.