Commodore User1st July 1986
Published in Commodore User #34
Murder On The Mississippi
Activision (coincidentally the new parent company of Infocom) have a real winner on their hands. Murder On The Mississippi is an animated graphical adventure set in turn of the century America on a paddle steamer called The Delta Princess. You play the part of famed British sleuth, Sir Charles Foxworth, who, along with his trusty companion Regis, is enjoying a well earned rest aboard this luxury floating palace.
Using joystick or keyboard, you can move Sir Charles all over the four deck ship exploring the many locations which include over 20 cabins, a state room, a salon and the wheelhouse or engine room. I have to say here that as a rule I don't like graphics in adventures unless they are really worth looking at, and as this game relies heavilty on its animation, the graphics and FX need to be of the highest quality... which, thankfully, they are.
Anyway, on with the story. In one of the cabins you'll eventually come across a body and because of your relentless curiosity you decide to find out who did this grisly deed, and why.
There are eight other passengers and a couple of crew on board - all with seemingly foolproof alibis - so, who did it? My first job was to visit the captain and he veryhelpfully gave me the register containing passenger details and their cabin numbers. Armed with this instruction I went to their cabins and started questioning them, looking for a few clues and some evidence. All the interviewing is undertaken by a series of menus, which by the user of a 'hand' cusor can be highlighted and entered.
For instance, selecting 'inspect' will have Sir Charles inspecting the nearest thing to him. Anything of use that you find can be picked up by Regis and put in his pocket for later examination. The secret of this game is getting the characters to say the right things, and by clever manipulation of evidence found and shown to the right people.
A very useful and clever device is your 'notebook'. During your conversation with the other characters, you can take notes on their replies. This is instigated by Regis who wil say "Would you like the notebook, m'lod?" Answering 'yes', you'll see the characters' statement on a blank screen. Using the cursor you can highlight certain words which will appear in the 'notebook' in Sir Charles' own handwriting - very stylish. These notes can later be shown to other characters who may or may not react in a strange way!
So... who killed Raleigh Cartwright III? Was it Judge Carter, a man who is clearly used to violence, or Madam Des Plaines, the rich window, or Daisy du Pree, a sexy southern belle who ins't what she seems, or Engineer Harry Stoken, illegitimate son of the dead Raleigh??? The list goes on. The sting in the tail is that you only have three days to solve the crime!
I must confess to being very impressed by this program, its use of text and animation is superb and the atmosphere it evokes is excellent.