Exploring the uncharted territory of the gay videogame experience. Here, I explore the female/LGBT presence in videogame culture, media and industry.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Peril at End House

I got a new desktop recently and have been making my way through the free game trials. (New 360 games are a bit out of my budget right now) Most of them were pretty much standard fare: Bejewelled, Jewel Quest, Fate, etc. Then I came across one that caught my interest; Peril at End House.

I got really excited at first because it's based on an Agatha Christie novel of the same name, and I'm a huge fan of her work.

I started up a new game and clicked through the opening cutscene. The comick book style layout was charming and spared me from suffering through a butchered French accent (this being a Poirot story). After the last graphic, I let out a very surprised/angry/disappointed "Goddamnit!" as I was confronted with actual gameplay:

Find a bunch of bullshit that's mixed in with a bunch of other bullshit.

It was a fucking seek-and-find game.

There has been a string of murders. I should be dusting for prints, looking for murder weapons and interviewing suspects. Not finding half-eaten pastries and playing cards in what looks like a disorganized yard sale.

I realize that Christie's books take place in the 1930s and 40s, so I wouldn't be able to do any fancy CSI style detective work, but that's not the point.

Very rarely were clues pertaining to the crime included in the list of random things I was supposed to find. Even then, there was absolutely no detective work involved. Just click the item and get a pop-up box that tells you everything you need to know about the object; who it belongs to, what it was doing int the room where you found it, etc.

There were only two instances where I actually felt like a detective, and they were way too far apart.

The first time, I had to figure out the combination to the victim's safe. It was a kind of cryptograph (where letters stand in for others. ex. A = S, B = T and so on), which I'm not very good at. But it made me think. I actually felt like I was Hercule Poirot.

The second time, I had picked up a box of half eaten candies. I had to pick them apart to find traces of drugs or poison. Turns out, they were laced with lethal amounts of cocaine.

That is what I should have been doing the whole time.

Why do I have to find butterflies and sea shells? Shouldn't I be searching for clues to secret drug habits, ulterior motives, covered up scandals and such?

Seriously. If I wanted to just look for random stuff, I'd go out and buy an I Spy book. At least that would have the nostalgia factor to keep me interested.

Why is there so much shit in the different areas? I can understand the Floral Shop Stage having a lot of stuff, but why do the rooms in the house look the way they do? Are the victims hoarders?

Am I conducting an investigation or staging an intervention? Like, "Look at all this shit. No wonder someone killed her."

Some of the shit is just impossible to find. Im-fucking-possible. In the Back Garden Stage, I had to find six croquet balls. Seemed simple enough. I found all but the red one, and I had run out of hints. I looked and loked, but time ran out before I found it.

By the way, when time runs out, you don't get to do just that room over again. No. You have to start that whole leg of the investigation all over again. Each section is about six or seven rooms. So if you're on the last room, you're fucked.

So, I started again, saving my hints because I remembered where most of the stuff was. When I got back to where I was before time ran out, I again found everything but the red croquet ball. So I used a hint.

You know where it was?

In a pile of fucking RED APPLES that were half off the screen. It blended in perfectly.

How the fuck was I supposed to see that?

Aside from impossible to find objects, it gets pretty monotonous pretty damn quick. Especially if you're like me and are really observant so you find things quickly.

The seek-and-find game play is broken up by various mini games. There is the safe cracking and poison detetion I mentioned before, but there are also matching games (match the suspect to the motive, etc.), but I didn't pay any attention to the text boxes or cut scenes. So I didn't know what went with what. But that didn't matter, because if you got three mismatches in a row, the game gave you a hint. And by hint, I mean it just flat out told you who went with what motive. And no penalties for letting it tell you either.

There is also a game where you have to piece together a ripped up newspaper article and a ripped up will. Another game makes you fill in words in a letter given to you by a contact. I didn't understand the point of that. If it contains important information, just fucking tell me, don't waste my time.

So you find all the important clues (all three of them...seriously), solve the crime (Spoiler: She fakes her death and kills her best friend because she was jealous of the woman's marriage), and end the game.

In conclusion, if you've got an hour or so to kill, this game is perfect for that. But if you're looking for a serious mystery-thriller game, or just want a game that's entertaining, I wouldn't recommend it.

Overall, I give it a 45/100. There were very few redeeming elements, and it mostly just wasted my time. If you want a good seek-and-find detective game, buy one of those CSI: games. If you're not entertained, at least you'll learn some cool science-y things.

1 comment:

  1. Some concrit. You can delete it if you want. You know I love you and think you're brilliant, so take this as coming from Professor!Amy:

    While I agree that the Agatha Christie game (and there are multiple! It's a series!) fails to fit the genre expectations, your analysis keeps getting lost in your absolute outrage. I don't object to the word "shit" but the multiple (over)use deflected from what should have been, given the point of this blog, an indictment against the gendered/hegemonic underpinings of this game. What is the representative anecdote (it's K. Burke. Look it up) of this game? What does it imply is true about a) crime b) its users c) the ordered-ness of the universe? And how might we see heteronormative narratives appearing in this?
    That being said, your criticism of the game *as a game* is spot on; the language needs to be tightened, though. You're far too clever to rely on "shit" that much.


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