Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None Review (Wii)

The PC point and click adventure has been having something of a resurrection recently. With Sam and Max proving that episodic content can work, and the Wii's controller being perfectly suited to mouse-based interfaces, the genre has not seen this much popularity since it's heyday with the phenomenal Lucasarts games.

Based on the classic murder mystery in which ten complete strangers are invited to a mansion on a remote island by a unknown host. Once cut off from civilization, they begin to reveal their tainted pasts full of murder and deceit. One by one, they all start to drop dead. Revenge, murder or something a lot more mysterious?

And Then There Were None (or ATTWN, from now on) was first released on the PC in 2005 and despite maintaining the key elements of the classic novel, the game suffered from the fact that, well, it was incredibly boring. Clicking from screen to screen, finding clues and moving through the various chapters is nothing new, and ATTWN did nothing to freshen up the incredibly dated formula. Now released on the Nintendo Wii, it includes a few little innovations using the Wii's unique controller, but is that enough, much like the people on the island, to help it escape it's past?

The signs aren't good. Graphically, ATTWN is a complete mess. Dull pre-rendered backdrops and poor quality 3D models plod around while the dull pallette is uninspiring. The FMV sequences littered around the game are the worst kind of stilted "uncanny valley" renders, leaving you wondering "what on earth is going on with the chaps eyes?" and "what is wrong with that woman's hair?" rather than whodunnit. Of course, point and click games don't need cutting edge visuals, but on display here is a complete lack of polish, further hammering home that this is indeed, a three year old PC game.

But, as I said, graphics aren't everything and even less in a game like this, providing the gameplay is of a high standard. Unfortunately, ATTWN is a letdown in this department too. The adventure is split into several chapters, then further split into scenes, which is the cause of some frustration. A seemingly empty room can suddenly contain a crucial clue a few chapters down the line, so, you find yourself slowly wandering from room to room, clicking on a series of hotspots to find clues and hopefully, progress further towards solving the mystery. That is, quite literally, all you do for the entire duration of the game. Double clicking the A button will cause your character to run to the point selected, but all that really does is speed up the tedious meandering.

Occasionally, you're asked to dig a hole or crack a safe, which you do by manipulating the Wii remote in an appropriate way. It does, however, feel incredibly tacked on rather than being something that richens the overall experience.

It's not all bad, though. The story, although delivered through some truly terrible cutscenes, can't be faulted. With 100 million copies sold worldwide, it's the biggest selling murder/mystery novel of all time, and surely that many people can't be wrong. Right? The music also does a grand job of setting the sinister tone needed to tell this story properly, and adds a certain creepy ambience to the proceedings.

To summerize, ATTWN isn't entirely dreadful, it's just a very generic and quite dull point and click adventure game. Worse than that, however, is that it could represent the start of a deluge of shovelware adventure games being cheaply ported from the PC and dumped on the Wii at budget prices, selling to a few adults who want something "a bit more grown up" from their system. Well, trust me, growing up is just like this game - dull - and no amount of motion control puzzle solving is going to change that.

The point and click adventure has a very bright and interesting future on the Wii, as shown by the recent (and brilliant) Zack and Wiki. This is not a part of that future. You're better off with a copy of the book and you can put the change towards Capcom's aforementioned unique gem.

 Favorite Game Moment: Like every point and click, solving that puzzle that has been troubling you for days is so, so satisfying, even in a game like this.

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