Two heavy-hitting detective games hit the casual scene this weekend, one a re-release of a classic point-and-click title, the other an exclusive from a seasoned adventure development studio. Each one spins an unforgettable tale using famous crime novel monikers everyone should recognize. Although the titles take strikingly different gameplay approaches, each one offers a deep mystery experience wrought with hidden agendas, misleading clues, and plenty of riddles to solve.
Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet (Windows, 82MB, demo) - From Frogwares, the developer behind a number of Sherlock Holmes adventure mysteries, comes a casually-oriented game that puts a new spin on the series. The famous Sherlock Holmes receives a letter from Scotland Yard detailing a murder where the body was rolled into a rare Persian carpet. Not ones to turn down an unsolvable crime, Holmes and Watson set out to gather clues and piece together a suspect list.
Similar in gameplay style to Escape the Museum, you'll travel to various locations via an overworld map, hunting for items in each area and solving light puzzles and minigames along the way. The hidden object and adventure themes are well-balanced, but the game is strangely linear and performs a lot of the detective work without your intervention. The story is where the meat of the game is at, and if you can look beyond the often less-than-stellar writing quality, this almost plays like a Sherlock Holmes story meets Mystery Case Files.
Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (Windows, 1.2G, no demo) - A train stalled on the tracks due to an avalanche. A man murdered in his room. Footprints leading through the snow away from the crime scene. All of the pieces of the puzzle are there, but it's your job to put them together. Play as the young Antoinette Marceau following the vigilant guidance of the famous detective Hercule Poirot. Speak with passengers, gather evidence and assemble clues (both verbal and physical) to find the culprit.
Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express's strengths are rooted in its narration, setting, artistic direction, and wonderful storytelling. Some of the puzzles are a bit trite and end up being little more than miniature fetching quests. But the game has withstood the test of time quite well and can proudly deliver a delicious adventure mystery experience to a whole new group of gamers. Unfortunately there isn't a demo for this title, which is a significant drawback, but if your interest was excited by the words "mystery", "adventure", or "classic", this is a no-brainer for you.