Reviews: Agatha Christie: Peril at End House
While on holiday on the Cornish coast, Hercule Poirot is drawn into investigating the attempted murder of the owner of End House
Developer: Oberon Games
Publisher: Oberon Games
Genre: Casual Mystery Adventure/HOG
Release Date: November 22, 2007
Note: Originally published 21 December 2007
Seventy-five years after its initial publication, the Queen of Crime’s seventh novel featuring Belgian detective Hercule Poirot has made its debut in another medium: the casual game. Again under the direction of masterful writer and game designer Jane Jensen, Oberon Games has created an entirely unique casual mystery adventure. The product varies from its predecessor, Death on the Nile, but is nevertheless a solid and entertaining detective experience.
Playing as Poirot, you and your loyal compatriot, Captain Hastings, arrive on the Cornish coast for a week of rest and relaxation. Your vacation, however, is soon interrupted when a shot is fired at a young woman. She later introduces herself as Magdala “Nick” Buckley, the owner of End House, and reveals that this latest incident is one of many “accidents” that have befallen her recently and threatened her life. Naturally, Poirot takes it upon himself to investigate the truth.
Your main task is to search each room of the house (and surrounding area) for clues. Each investigation consists of three to five locations to peruse, and there are ten items to search for in each room. Yes, this game is of the I Spy variety that seems to be sweeping the casual game world these days. However, there is more to it than that. Some of the objects you find are actually clues to the mystery, and they are stored in the Evidence Room after you uncover them so that you can refer back to them later when you are trying to solve the case. If you are having trouble, though, you get five hints per investigation -- so don’t get too frustrated, because if you start clicking randomly, the game will remove thirty seconds from your twenty-five minute time limit. When you have found all the items in a room -- which takes some patience and keen eyes, as most objects are cunningly hidden -- you may receive a Clue Card, which reveals a statement from the one of the characters. These, too, have their own storage place for further review, and are especially helpful in cracking the case.
At the end of each investigation, a mini-game is presented. Although optional, these additional puzzles aren’t too challenging and offer more clues to the mystery. They usually involve deciphering letters, opening locked objects or analyzing Poirot’s current thoughts on the case. After a bonus round is completed, occasionally a comic book-like cartoon moves the storyline along. These cartoons do a good job at furthering the plot and providing a brief reprieve from object-hunting, which can become tedious at times, especially in later investigations when there are fifty items to search for.
One slight criticism I have about this game is that, unlike its predecessor, you cannot question any of the characters. Any good detective knows that interrogating suspects is essential to solving a mystery, and while the Clue Cards do offer statements from those involved, it would have been more fun to get to interview the suspects. As some of Poirot’s conjectures – especially those that build up to the solution to the crime – aren’t fully explained, more opportunities to reveal clues and obtain information would’ve been helpful. Despite this minor setback, however, I thoroughly enjoyed Peril at End House. It is a delightfully entertaining mystery that will keep you busy for several hours, and while it mirrors Mystery Case Files, G.H.O.S.T. Hunters and other similar games, it maintains its originality with an interesting plot, clever mini-games and pleasant (though repetitive) background music and ambient soundtrack. I would recommend this game to any mystery or casual game fan and encourage them to give it a try.
Final Grade: A