Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None Review

Date: 1/6/2006

Good adventure games rely heavily on two things: storyline and interesting puzzles. If these elements are lacking in an adventure game, it usually means that you’re stuck with a tedious exercise in pointing and clicking. So if you’re going to create a mystery adventure game, you may as well draw upon the work one of the most well-regarded mystery writers of all time, Agatha Christie, and that’s just what And Then There Were None does.

And Then There Were None is based on the novel of the same name, which at one time was known as Ten Little Indians (you don’t even want to know the book’s original title). Apparently these days merely mentioning the word “Indian” is a sign of unbridled racism, and the game jumps on board the PC wagon by changing the Ten Little Indians central to the story into Ten Little Sailors. I suppose somebody somewhere would have had their feelings hurt by the inclusion of Indians in the game, but apparently no one told the sailors about this. I am sure that they are just as hurt and my heartfelt condolences go out to them. Sail on big guys, sail on, these stormy skies of indignity shall pass... So anyway, if you’re not familiar with the original story, it goes something like this…

Eight people are invited to spend a weekend at a mansion on a small, isolated island under false pretenses. After arriving at the island the guests learn that their host, U.N. Owen, has been delayed and will not be joining them until later. Before long a storm blows in and the boat they arrived on is destroyed, trapping the guests at the mansion. At first this seems like a minor inconvenience, but after dinner a record is played for the guests in which their unseen host summarily accuses each of the guests, as well as the two newly hired servants, of being somehow responsible for the death of one or more people during their lifetimes. Here we have our ten little Indians, er, sailors, and soon they begin to die one by one in a manner that frighteningly mimics the lines of a nursery rhyme posted above the fireplace…

Your role in this mystery is that of a new character not found in the original book. You’re Patrick Naracott, the brother of the boatman who brought the guests out to the island in the novel. You are trapped on the island with everyone else, but luckily for you you’re not one of the ten accused of murder. The game does take a little liberty with the source material in crafting a little “history” between you and one of the characters, but this is a necessary artistic license to give you more of a connection to the story beyond that of an observer – although you do in effect end up in that role.

Since you’re not really at the focus of the events on the island, your role as a gamer becomes one of doing what is necessary to trigger the next plot event. I suppose that when you get down to it this is basically what happens in all adventure games, but in this case you’re very much aware of this role. Complicating things for you is the fact that the game does not give you much guidance as to what needs to be done to activate the next story trigger or where the trigger is located. Because of this, there will be times in the game when you will find yourself retracing your steps back and forth scouring each screen for something that you may have missed the first several times through.