Ah, the point and click adventure; so forgotten by gaming systems it has become a rarity save for a few niche (yet nonetheless great) titles like Siberia for the Xbox. It is a fading genre, and I was completely thrown for a loop when I heard they were making one for the Wii, Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None. But, after thinking about it, pointing and clicking is what the Wii does best, so why not give it go?
For those of you who don't visit the library unless forced to for school, Agatha Christie is a famous author who specializes in stories of murder murder most foul. In fact, if you've ever hear of the “Ten Little Indians” rhyme, you're already familiar with the basis of And Then There Were None. Except, since calling Native Americans “Indians” is no longer politically correct, they have been converted into sailor boys.
The poem isn't the only deviation from the original novel; the player takes on the role of a new character, Patrick Narracott, who is looking for the man who framed his brother for murder. Narracott acts as the chauffeur for a group of ten people who have been summoned to Shipwreck Island for a party. Appropriately enough, after seeing everyone safely to the mansion on the island, Narracott's boat shipwrecks, forcing him to spend the night at the mansion. As the party guests settle in for after dinner drinks, the butler, plays a recoding of his master, accusing each guest and servant of murder, even listing the dates of their alleged crimes and names of their victims. One by one, the guests are systematically killed off in suspicious circumstances that mirror the poem.
Surprisingly, the game doesn't feel so much about solving the murders as it is about finding the person who framed your brother. The murders seem more like a dramatic backdrop, adding tension and urgency to your task as you have only so long to talk to certain people before they are killed off, taking their secrets with them. So, while this is a point-and-click adventure game, the emphasis is more on your interactions with characters, than the usual solving puzzles by finding objects in illogical locations (Of course! Why didn't I look for the batteries inside the bag a flour.).
There is little to guide you in what to do next. If you get frustrated by this type of game because you don't think to put the pawn in the chessboard shaped plaque, then you'll really go crazy when you get stuck because you didn't bother to ask someone about their childhood.
The game makes good use of the story's characters, bringing them to life with capable voice acting and body language. Even the dialog not taken from the book is believable and true to the original author's style. The only problem is there is a LOT of dialog to go through (not to mention an encyclopedia's worth of documents to read), and only a small fraction is voiced. Anyone will tell you their life story, and you'll find newspaper clipping and journal entries everywhere. I avoided reading most of it, not only out of disinterest, but because the text is small and hard to read. But, if you want the best ending, you have to be able to sift through it all to find the one or two important facts you need.
The game also brings Shipwreck Island to life with detailed and realistic environments. The mansion itself is beautiful and is enjoyable to explore. But being pretty much the only place to explore, the player gets tired of it in time. Of course, with all the settings being pre-rendered, there is nothing animated in the game but the characters. And sadly, that is where the graphics team dropped the ball. The characters models all look blocky – understandable considering they were made for the PC back in 2005. Not that you ever get to see them up close, but there is little detail in the characters' appearance. While I know this isn't Final Fantasy, and the characters are meant to be ordinary people, I feel like there could be a little more done to make them more memorable, especially with the main character. Not being from the original book, the makers cart-blanch. Instead, he is the most mundane of them all, and provides me little insight into who he is, and why I care about his quest. As for the FMV scenes, I can honestly say I've seen higher quality in a DS game.
The music is more atmospheric then dramatic, which is another missed opportunity. While the music and sound effects work well when just exploring the mansion, there is nothing to add drama during the important conversations. In fact, in the deluge of dialog, I would appreciate a little musical clue as to when someone was telling me something important to the plot, and not just telling me a random story about how he met his wife.
Even for a point-and-click adventure game, I found Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None to be long on wind and short on intrigue. Not because of the story, but because you feel like your actions are separated from the plot, as if you're just killing time to see how the next person dies. If you can really immerse yourself in the characters and story, then this title might appeal to you, but if you aren't a die-hard fan of this genre of game or book, then I seriously warn you to stay away.