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Murder, Theft, And A Musical, January 23, 2008
Late at night, two men at a house party find their host lying dead on the beach below the study window. The police are treating it as a murder unless they find reason to believe otherwise. Five suspects, two hours until Inspector Duffy comes back to ask for your verdict. Time to go to work.
I realise, reading back on that paragraph I just wrote, that it sounds rather like one of Infocom's old murder mysteries. But that's the point -- it is. Just, as it's an IF Comp game, a lot shorter and easier. It also manages to avoid one of the main problems of the Infocom murders: you don't have to rely on being in the right place at the right time. Characters stay put and obligingly give their alibis on demand as many times as you ask them, and time passes slowly enough to give you plenty of time to finish your assignment. There's even an automatic notebook that records what you've found out so far. The in-game hints are very helpful, although I did find myself relying on them too much.
An interesting element of the game is the randomisation. There are five suspects; each time you restart the game a new suspect is chosen. The timing, murder method and motives also change to reflect this, making for five games in one ... except it isn't. Once you've played through it two or three times, you'll be able to guess what the motives of the other suspects would be in the other scenarios, and you won't really need to play them. (Plus even the best writing can get stilted on the fifth reading.) The basics stay the same in each variation: names of suspects and the main facts like the musical, (Spoiler - click to show)Cedric's theft from the Trust, and the secret passage.
Overall, I had more fun playing this game then I've had with IF in a long time. Highly recommended. Oh, and don't forget to type XYZZY.