|System: Wii, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: AWE Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: DreamCatcher Interactive/The Adventure Company||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The works of the late Agatha Christie are widely regarded as being among the most popular murder mysteries of all time, and it's great to see her expert tales of suspense working their way to new audiences through an interactive medium the author very likely could not have anticipated. Bringing a video game adaptation of Christie's best-selling work And Then There Were None to the Wii would have been a great move had the developers taken time to rebuild the title from the ground up for the platform. Instead, players are treated to a barely-altered port of the same PC title released almost three years ago. The result is a wonderful interactive murder mystery hampered by heavily dated gameplay mechanics and visuals that seem out of place on the Wii.
Long-time fans of Christie's novels that haven't experienced any of the game adaptations will still find much to appreciate in the Wii version of Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None. The Nintendo console's mass appeal among casual gamers, and even those who've just recently found their way into gaming through the system, makes it likely the title will find its way to where it belongs: in the hands of players who have a strong love of the literature, but don't have lofty expectations when it comes to current generation presentation and gameplay. It's this demographic of player who will be able to find the diamond in the rough here.
Like the 1939 classic novel it was based on, And Then There Were None revolves around a gathering of 10 individuals invited by the mysterious Owens family to the remote Shipwreck Island for a weekend dinner party in Devon, England. The game also introduces a new 11th character who's hired to bring the group to the isle by boat. As Patrick Narraccott, you'll deliver your human cargo across the stormy channel intact, but you end up in a foul predicament shortly after arrival when you discover someone has scuttled the boat to prevent you from getting back to the mainland. Trapped on an island in a heavy storm is no place to be when murder is in the air. Unbeknownst to the hodgepodge group assembled on the island, it's the sole purpose of their visit. Each of the 10 guests has their own dark past which is partially unveiled in dramatic fashion shortly before someone takes to killing them off one-by-one. To make matters worse, their grizzly deaths are patterned after a classic nursery rhyme. Players will control Narraccott as he launches his own investigation while the remaining members of the group attempt to stay alive long enough to unearth the killer and make it off the island in one piece.
Sleuthing around the large estate and gloomy grounds beyond is a meticulously slow process. The game progresses in chapters and each typically contains a murder. In between occasional cut-scenes, you'll guide Narraccott through many of the rooms at the estate to ransack through personal belongings and snatch up anything that's not bolted to the ground. These scavenged goods are then used in many of the puzzles scattered throughout the game. Since missing any of the more well-hid items can throw a wrench in your ability to move forward, a severe level of scrutiny is imperative. Interrogating guests for clues also comes into play heavily. Expect to be scrolling through tons of dialog and print that's small enough to make you squint at the screen. Reading documents in the menu and subtitles is difficult due to the small text, but the voice-overs help in the latter case.
Not surprisingly, point-and-click controls are a good fit for the Wii, but some of the other motion features tacked onto the game are shoddy at best. By pointing the Wii Remote at different areas of the screen, the mouse arrow will change as it moves over various hotspots, which allow you to interact with the environment by pressing the A or B button. An eye symbol gives you a closer look at an item or area; a hand symbol means you can pick up something; footsteps let you move to a different area; and so forth. The item and document inventory can be quickly accessed by pressing the plus and minus keys, and the good button layout makes pulling items from your inventory to use in the game a cinch.