For choice based murder mysteries in this comp, it’s difficult to see past what Erstwhile achieved – it really elevated the form – searching for clues, re-living moments, entering people’s heads, linking clues together – all integrated into a very satisfying playing experience. It makes it tough to review other whodunnit games without at least drawing on this as an exemplar.
While nicely written, with an appropriate voice, hearkening back to Agatha Christie and other gentile detective stories, unfortunately, Murder at the Manor doesn’t provide a compelling game play experience.
We take the role of Percival Pike, a newly promoted Inspector who has been given the task to find the murderer of Sir Stanley Stagwood, Lord of the Manor. What follows is a text heavy choice game. It took me about 15 minutes to play through and reach both endings.
The basic mechanic is that the game is presented in three sections. First we search the manor, then we interrogate the four suspects, then we look at the potential weapons. It’s like a highly directed game of Cluedo. I guess I’m not sure why the author has done it like this. This could have been a very cool murder mystery. I want to be able to explore the mansion, talk to the guests, find clues, at will. Not just click on a weapon and then get a barrel full of text. Then click on the next weapon…and rinse and repeat.
Can I make a suggestion to the author. There is a lot of dialog – for presentation, it would be easier to read if it were slightly more spaced out and/or indented.
And then, oh no! I reach the ending, and just for giggles I select the wrong person to see what will happen. (I will say that the text, with close attention does make it reasonably obvious who the killer is). When I select the wrong person, the bad ending text pops up, but it gives me the correct answer in the text!! No! Why!
This is a very definite missed opportunity. The author has a nice writing style and a good and light voice. But the gameplay is just not there. 4/10.