Commodore User1st May 1987
Published in Commodore User #45
Killed Until Dead
Murder and mayhem are currently flavour of the month, Killed Until Dead is Accolade's whodunnit offering. There are twenty-one mind-boggling cases packed into the game tape to test whether you, Hercules Holmes, actually are the world's greatest detective. Can you uphold the family honour and apprehend the murderer before he or she strikes?
The scene of the crime is always one of the nine rooms of the Gargoyle hotel where the world's top five crime writers have gathered to plan their dirty deeds. They're known as the Midnight Murder Club and each aims to stake the claim that they are the world's greatest murderer! With five fanatics trying to bump each other off you're going to have your work cut out on this dark and stormy night....
As the house detective of the infamous Gargoyle hotel (the hotel where everyone checks in but only a few check out) you're ready for the challenge. At your disposal you have every piece of high tech crimestopping gadgetry ranging from hidden cameras to wire taps. As the game begins you're sitting by your desk with everything you need at your joystick-controlled fingertips.
In any crime investigation the first task is to get to know your suspects by reading their files. Exactly how knowing that Sydney Meanstreet once caused a total eclipse of the sun, or that Mike Stammer eats birds and is partial to blondes, that Agatha Maypole hates singles bars, that Lord Peter Flimsey's idea of beauty is Princess Anne in Jodphurs or that Claudia von Bulow has a collection of feather hats will help you is uncertain but it may highlight some differences. One thing is certain, someone will die, in just twelve hours, at midnight.
Your famous ancestors used their magnifying glasses and little grey cells to sleuth the solution. You use less subtle means and set about breaking into the suspects' rooms to search for clues. To get into a room, you must first ensure it's empty and then break in by correctly answering a murder mystery trivia question. This may sound odd to have trivia questions in a whodunnit but it seems to work. You also learn some interesting snippets such as Vermont is the place to live if you don't want to be murdered and that you could be hung in Britain in 1819 for committing any of 222 crimes. Each question has only four multiple-choice answers so you're bound to get in eventually but you'll lose valuable time trying.
Inside you may find some embarrassing evidence on the suspect and perhaps some notes about meetings they've arranged with the other characters. You should monitor these meetings either yourself using the hidden cameras or by recording them using one of your three programmable tape surveillance machine.
At last you're on the trail and it's time to question the suspects. As well as being members of the Midnight Murder Club they're also part of the red herring club so you're going to have to shock the into helping you. The dirt you found in their rooms is a good start which should get them worried. You can then press your advantage and ask them about the likely killer, victim, location and instrument. As long as they look rattled, you can think about believing them.
Finally, you should check your electronic notebook that automatically records details of break-ins, monitored conversations, phone interrogations and tip offs before you confront the killer. Now you must select the right victim, instrument and location and suggest the right motive. Get it right and you will have solved your first case. One down and only twenty to go! If you're wrong you become the victim as a gun appears through the window and shoots you dead.
Five possible killers and victims, five murder weapons and nine locations ensures that you won't solve a crime by chance and four levels will keep you sleuthing to the final solution. In the Elementary cases, the going is fairly easy with regular tip-offs and lots of meetings to help you track down the killer in cases such as Mars Needs Women and Fast Food Fight. Murder Medium Rare is the next stage and you'll have to solve the case of Publish Or Peril on your own. Cases for the Cunning (such as The Case Of The Mutilated Moose) adds a healthy helping or red herrings and less break in notes. If you want to find the meetings, then you'll have to look for them! Finally, cases for Super Sleuths feature cases such as Rhymes and Crimes that are stuffed full of diversions, suspects that know nothing, others that deliberately mislead you and no help at all.
Killed Until Dead is the third Whodunnit game to be recently released as the software houses catch crime fever. Unlike the L'Affaire Vera Cruz (Infogrammes) which is almost an adventure style whodunnit Killed Until Dead is completely joystick-controlled, easy to play and highly addictive. Each case takes about half an hour to complete (one way or the other) but are varied enough to ensure you tackled all twenty-one. Like the Accolade's other titles, Hardball and Psi-5 Trading Company, the game oozes quality in both its gameplay and graphics, and is highly recommended for all digital detectives.