MURDER casts you as an amateur sleuth who "just happens" to be in the right place at the right time - at the scene of a murder. You know that Scotland Yard are due on the scene, but you also know that they won't arrive for another two hours (telepathic as well as a sleuth?) and you decide that you will solve all before they arrive.
The thing that makes this icon-driven graphic adventure different from your run of the mill icon-driven graphic adventure is that there are over three million (yes folks, three million) possible murders to choose from. Your particular homicide is randomly generated from inputs you make before the game starts.
On loading you are greeted with a picture of a newspaper story announcing the murder and that you are in the vicinity.
There is a slight logical problem here, as the headline says you are called to investigate while the manual insists that you just happen to be in the area. Journalistic licence, I suspect. Anyway, back to the plot. So, you are greeted with a picture of a newspaper story announcing the murder.
Using the mouse that is an essential part of the game, you can change the date of the murder, its location, and your own physiognomy (facial appearance to you). Unfortunately, you are stuck with being a male sleuth, so there is no opportunity to emulate Miss Marple (tush and fie programmers).
You can also select the difficulty level by calling yourself novice, average, experienced or super-sleuth. Once you have played with the newspaper to your heart's content, click the right mouse button to generate the murder and start the game.
After an intro screen featuring an alarmingly lifelike scream, you find yourself in a room of Ghastly Grange, or Ghastly Manor, or Ghastly Court or whatever you selected, face to face with a body. The action takes place in the left hand side of the screen where there is a large graphic of the room you are in. Animated characters come and go, and you have to be quick if you want to question them.
The game is set in 30s style so all the characters wander around in dinner jackets and flapper costume (except the servants, of course). The whole adventure is controlled by pointing and clicking. A bar of icons lies down the right down the right head edge of the screen and these control actions like questioning characters, entering information into your sleuth's notebook, looking for fingerprints, comparing them, and arresting suspects.
Choosing to question a character brings up another menu bar across the top of the screen. You can ask any character about objects, places or other characters. Selecting an icon representing one of these three themes brings up a scrolling list from which to choose exactly what you want to ask about.
You can build quite complex questions in this way, like 'Tell me about Lady Carina Charles and the revolver in the guest bedroom'. Characters' responses and other information appear in a dialogue box across the bottom of the screen, and you can write clues and other information into your notebook.
The idea behind the game is a good and novel one. Unfortunately, each of the three million murders is very similar, and I predict that one or two will be enough for most of us. Graphically, the game is excellent, the part of the screen where the action takes place is reminiscent of those old Speccy Ultimate games and the spot effects add to the atmosphere enormously.
Characters light cigarettes, bats and frogs can be heard in the outdoors locations, whispering sounds are heard when you go to question a character, and in one room a stuck gramophone player whirs round.
Despite the minute attention to detail and atmosphere creation, the gameplay is sorely lacking. Actually using the icon environment takes a bit of getting used to. Still, the idea of a game with a two hour limit will appeal to many Amigans with not overmuch time to spare, and this could be where Murder scores over others in the genre.