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Murder in the Abbey (PC) artwork

Murder in the Abbey (PC) review

"In The Name of the Rose is a pretty famous novel written by Umberto Eco, but better known as "that movie in which the always-bearded Sean Connery is bossing Christian Slater around". "

In The Name of the Rose is a pretty famous novel written by Umberto Eco, but better known as "that movie in which the always-bearded Sean Connery is bossing Christian Slater around".

Murder at the Abbey is a pretty faithful representation of said book, except that here you lead the former Grand Inquisitor, Leonardo, a monk/detective, instead of Connery, and his slightly retarded sidekick Bruno (meaning, exactly like Christian Slater).

It all starts like every good mystery should, on a dark and stormy night when the dynamic monk duo climb a mountain pass in an effort to reach the Abbey gates. On their way, they’re attacked from above by a rolling boulder. One moment was all that it lasted, but Leonardo manages to catch a glimpse of a person, a hooded figure that escapes the moment his plan falls to pieces. Reaching the Abbey, the two introduce themselves to the gate keeper and the reason for their pilgrimage is explained.

Recently, strange events started to occur within the Abbey, which escalated with the death of one of the monks and you, the famous investigator from Vatican, are the logical investigator to call in. Following you is Bruno, your apprentice from a fairly wealthy family that nobody seems to like very much, including Leonardo. Indeed, for most of the adventure, he will serve as someone to take your frustrations out at, or to just degrade for your own amusement.

The head of the Abbey informs you about your duties, which is to try and blend in with the rest of the monks during your investigation, and to be efficient in your duties because if one murder happened within these walls, there is a good chance it is not the only one. Not to mention that the Pope will not be pleased if the case is not resolved quickly.

When you take control of Leonardo, you’ll find yourself in a traditional point-and-click adventure setting. You can look at the objects, speak to various friars within the order, pick up practically everything that isn't bolted down, store huge items in bottomless pockets and combine your inventory MacGyver style.

The abbey is a big place, and it takes some time to investigate it all -- quite the chore for a shuffling Leonardo seemingly suffering from acute arthritis, but thankfully greater distances can be instantly traversed with the aid of your map. Manual exploration, though, will allow you to meet the interesting gathering of characters that might casually chat, mock Bruno, or try to help you with your case.

Though things might appear normal on the surface, a glance beneath the calm veneer presents a more suspicious scene. The serene Abbey holds its fair share of secrets, be it the unsocial location or the local clergy who all seem to hold skeletons in their closet. It’s up to you to find out what those skeletons are, and with that deduce who exactly the killer is.

Bruno, your faithful hound does most of the menial and physical things that Leonardo either can't do due to his age or because it would really, totally be funny to see Bruno potentially hurt himself. For instance, to get something from the well, you need to lower Bruno down in a bucket on a rope which "accidentally" buckles violently just enough to make your apprentice fall out and into the cold water. Or when you use him as a stepping ladder to get to the higher ground, even if there is perfectly good furniture all around you to serve that purpose. He serves his main purpose well; he’s an injection of colour forced into a dreary world where priests thankfully do not touch young boys.

The game tries to mix humour with being serious, and depending on your sense of humour it either fails or succeeds. It seems that for the more modern audience it plays it a bit too safe. There are no real "jokes", more of it is situational humour, and most of it again involves your poor apprentice getting into shenanigans. It can be amusing, but the joke is often run into the ground, failing to provoke a grin, let alone a chuckle.

The unwillingness to put away the safety new is the game's greatest running problem, the fact that it all of its venues it tries to play it too safe. I understand that it follows a fairly accurate (though altered enough to swap some names about) portrayal of a well known book, so yes, turning Bruno‘s plight into a religious-themed American Pie script would be a step too far, but this attitude leaks into riddle solving as well. Everything you need, you find at the exact moment when you need it. There’s no preparation for the puzzles, meaning you can't observe an obstacle that you won't be able to solve right away; they just suddenly appear and that cheapens the title from start to finish. You see a problem, and immediately you solve it, then you forget about it forever. This formula grows tiresome after a while, since it never dares to mix things up. Even when the crap hit’s the fan it’s portrayed without a semblance of action or emotion. It happens. You carry onwards.

Still, if you’re a fan of old school adventure games, and even more of the "whodunit" mysteries, this isn’t a bad pick. If you want to see what all the fuss is about with this damn adventure games the hip kids keep harping on about, this isn’t the place to break your genre virginity.


darketernal's avatar
Community review by darketernal (April 09, 2010)

Occasional reviewer of random stuff.

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