Murder at the Manor

Ah, I had high hopes for this one. Sadly, though....

Let's start with the basic game mechanics. After the introduction, we're given four rooms to investigate; and we can do them in any order or, after the first one, just go on to interviewing the four suspects. The same goes with the suspects: interview them in any order or, after the first one, go on to examining four potential weapons. Same thing again with the weapons. And then we can choose which of the suspects to arrest.

I had thought that perhaps the who, where, and how were all randomly determined, and we'd therefore have to read the text carefully for clues. But in fact, all the action is fixed and nothing actually changes, not by chance, and not because of any of the choices made -- we still mysteriously manage to have the letter opener, for instance, even if we avoid reaching the section where we find it. Ultimately, the game is a case of "read all the text, then make your guess." And while the evidence does add up sensibly to one solid conclusion, it's really not much more interaction than your standard detective novel, and I should know. Changing the order of your chapters or skipping a few does not constitute interactivity unless it also changes either the meaning of the story or its outcome, or both.

There was rather an excessive amount of text in each section. I understand that information must be conveyed, but there must be a better way. And the characters felt more like caricatures than actual people.

But at least the clues pointed in the right direction and the ending made sense. I've seen published stories do worse.

Ultimately, though, this is dinner disguising itself as breakfast ... cold pizza pretending to be some kind of breakfast sandwich. And some people do enjoy cold pizza for breakfast, but you could do better than that. At least the tea's not too bad: Earl Grey, one sugar, extra milk.