David Mcmurdo On March - 21 - 2010

I’ve never been a man anyone could described as “trendy”. When I’m not walking the streets wearing a purple chimp badge I’m either sitting listening to my Bowie dominated playlist or watching some cult film or other. So when James told me that the game of Murder, She Wrote was on his schedule I leapt for joy and readily agreed to review it myself because you know what? I bloody love Murder, She Wrote and I don’t give a damn who knows it.

Of course this is Murder, She Wrote the game coming twenty-six years after the TV show began so there was every chance that this was some cynical attempt to cash-in on a well known series with a game that just so happens to also be about investigating murders. All you need to make a game and then claim it’s “based” on a film or TV series is a vaguely similar concept, the well known theme from the movie or show and characters that resemble its stars. It’s not a difficult thing to accomplish and we’ve seen countless examples of mediocre games trying to live off the strength of a franchise name and I really hoped this was not one of them.

casesscaled Murder, She Wrote Review

The presentation of Murder, She Wrote is excellent throughout.

One of the first thing you have to ask yourself about this title is, who exactly is it aimed at? With the exception of oddballs like myself there’s just no way that hardcore gamers are going to rush out to get their hands on a hidden object game based on Murder, She Wrote, a series featuring an elderly female sleuth. No this is the kind of game that a well-intentioned mother goes out and buys for her son having no idea that what he really wants is Command & Conquer 4. This is a casual game aimed squarely at the casual market but we all know how vulnerable even us hardcore gamers can be to the charms of digital cocaine so don’t dismiss Murder, She Wrote out of hand.

It features five separate investigations each of them being unlocked after the completion of its predecessor. All of these consist of Where’s Wally? (Waldo for American readers) style searches in beautifully rendered locations for a variety of objects the majority of which are completely random and have no relevance to the case at hand. The hidden objects are listed down the left hand side of the screen although start with letters missing which you can replace by finding the appropriate typewriter key in the scene. Sometimes you’ll be required to solve puzzles in order to progress and these range from simple spot the difference affairs to more complicated ones where you have to identify the correct item from a series of others by a process of elimination using clues. There are a nice variety of puzzles and all of them are entirely logical within the context of the plot and satisfying to finish.

gardenscaled Murder, She Wrote Review

Every enviroment is gorgeous which is just as well given the time you'll spend staring at them.

Speaking of the plot, Legacy Interactive have done a perfect job of invoking the spirit of Murder, She Wrote with stories that are laid out in the exact format as the episodes of the TV show to the extent that the game even includes the flashbacks of the killer committing the crime as they confess to it. I’d go so far as to say that this is the next best thing to a new season of the show. Important characters like Dr. Seth Hazlitt and incompetent Sheriff Mort Metzger make various appearances although neither they nor Jessica Fletcher herself are voiced by the original cast but the voice acting is decent enough throughout. The story surrounding each investigation is well told, involves multiple individuals and provides twists without making things overly complicated or irrational.

My sole problem with Murder, She Wrote is how easy it is. You can choose to play the game in either “timed” or “relaxed” mode with the former imposing a twenty minute time limit for each scene of investigation. I had hoped that this generous limit would decrease as the game went on but it was not to be and this makes failure almost impossible as I never spent longer than seven minutes in any location and even then I was taking things slowly. If you click too many times on objects that cannot be picked up then your cursor will spin for a few seconds and this is clearly meant to waste precious time but the fact is that time isn’t precious at all, it’s abundant. Occasionally you can also get “hints” which reveal the location of a random object and you can also receive one of these by finding hidden typewriter ribbons. The countdown will also often pause during puzzle segments which can be skipped at will anyway.

puzzlescaled Murder, She Wrote Review

A fine example of the kind of puzzle you'll be expected to solve.

Murder, She Wrote may be a casual game destined to be played by people who aren’t looking for a hard time but it wouldn’t have been difficult for Legacy Interactive to implement some options that allow for a more challenging experience. Even something as simple as allowing for a shorter time limit would have been enough to increase the pressure and therefore the tension of the game. Ideally though there should be a whole host of options to disable hints, increase the difficulty of the hidden object scenes, give the puzzle segments their own time limit, make them unskippable etc. I also originally hoped that you might have to deduce who the killer is yourself from everything you’d learned during the investigation but alas, this was not to be.

What we have here then is a simple hidden object game that does a superb job of doing what it does. It just doesn’t do quite enough for my liking. As a Murder, She Wrote game it is excellent and if you’re a fan of the series desperate for more adventures with Jessica Fletcher then this game will definitely not disappoint. It took me under five hours to finish the game which sounds really short but most people won’t play it through in a single sitting like I did and for the asking price of £6.65 ($9.99) from Legacy Interactive’s website there really is nothing to complain about.

Final Score - 4/5: Murder, She Wrote is one of the best examples of the hidden object genre and totally faithful to the TV series. I just hope that a sequel appears to improve on an already great game.

Categories: Feature, PC Reviews
  • https://?u=StevenTaylor Steven Taylor

    You’re a real man David!

  • https://www.wedotech.net James Joell-Ireland

    Oh my, how did this get an 8 lol.

  • https://?u=StevenTaylor Steven Taylor

    David I’d just like to know your thoughts on the likelihood of a sequel :)

  • https://?u=TheFinalHighlander David Mcmurdo

    Well this is the first Legacy Interactive game I’ve played but looking at their past work, I think the chances are high.

  • https://?u=StevenTaylor Steven Taylor

    That’s a very interesting point. Would you be sure to pick up a sequel immediately after its release?

  • https://?u=TheFinalHighlander David Mcmurdo

    I would actually. I really can’t see them wasting a franchise if they’ve bought the rights to it.

  • https://?u=StevenTaylor Steven Taylor

    I have to admit I lack the confidence of this selling a large amount of copies though. It’s hardly going to be on the shelves in the shops :’(

  • https://?u=TheFinalHighlander David Mcmurdo

    Well yeah it’s not going to be rivalling Half-Life anytime soon but there’s definately a market out there for these games and I’m a member of it now.

  • https://?u=StevenTaylor Steven Taylor

    What are the other top titles of this sort of genre? Would you be interested in reviewing those as well?

  • https://?u=TheFinalHighlander David Mcmurdo

    There’s other franchise based games like Sherlock Holmes and yeah I’d happily review them. Sure beats the piece of dullness I’ve got to review now.

  • https://?u=StevenTaylor Steven Taylor

    I see. What projects are you undertaking at the moment, David?

  • https://?u=TheFinalHighlander David Mcmurdo

    Rise of Prussia and Severance: Blade of Darkness. That’s it. Was meant to be doing another game but the activation key didn’t work.

  • https://?u=StevenTaylor Steven Taylor

    I very much look forward to them but have often pondered whether you would consider reviewing anything in the console market?

  • https://?u=TheFinalHighlander David Mcmurdo

    Yeah if I ever got a next generation console I would. Always got the Mega Drive and SNES.

  • https://?u=RageGreeny Rage Greeny

    You’re a braver man than i am.

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