First release from a new company of four hopeful adventure-authors, including Jimmy Page. I always wondered what happened to him. Whoever did the graphics can be proud of their loading screen, and the pix throughout the game are of a decent standard too. The game itself needs tidying up a bit, but it's still worth a look.
You play Chief Detective John Shaw, and along with Detective Phillip Keen you've just been assigned to check out the murder of Lord Anthony Forbes, ex Arts Minister, at his country home Redbourne Manor. The dastardly deed was done on the night of 6 June, and as the game begins its 7 am on the 7 and you're standing in the hall of Redbourne Manor about to investigate. Phil Keen's a Dire Straits fan, as you'll discover if you ask him to sing. None of this nonsense of sitting down and singing about gold; Phil ties a hankie round his head and is straight into Private Investigations.
Then you're into your own investigation. You have 14 hours to solve the case (I'm not sure why) and pressing 'T' will let you know how the time's going. There's a good wide use of other commands, such as ASK, SAY or TELL for talking to other characters, who you can also QUESTION or INTERROGATE. There's a RAMSAVE, with G used for GET/TAKE.
Lord Forbes didn't do too badly for himself, as there's a helicopter outside in the hangar - a Jetranger 206 for anyone who knows about these things. There's a Porsche in the driveway too, which rather puts your scratched Rover to shame. When you examine it though, you discover it belongs to some character called Phelps-Drayton. Who is he? And how can you tell who a car belongs to?
In the lounge is the body, lying face-down on the blood-stained carpet, and PC Fieldhouse hands you a note and a set of keys that were found on the body. Also present is Oliver Phelps-Drayton, which clears up the mystery of the Porsche in the driveway. The note is rather strange: "Dear Anthony, I'll be extra muros ante merinium - June 7. STAOC TREBLA." Who Albert Coats is, and why he signs his name backwards and writes in Latin, goodness knows, which counts me out. Elsewhere there's a diary with the word ZARAB scribbled in the back, and you might also discover that one of Forbes's golf clubs is missing. Was he clubbed to death? Or did someone just putt him to sleep?
The game's let down by poor presentation and spelling mistakes. Among the howlers I spotted were: equiptment. exhibet, ammount, momment and aranged. The EXAMINE command is also used strangely, as it acts as REDESCRIBE if the object you're attempting to look at can't in fact be examined.
Despite its faults, I thought investigations was a worthy attempt to do something different, and to show what can be achieved if you've got 128K and a versatile utility like PAW. Good value at £3.99 for a two-part game... but in future make your text as good as your graphics, Graphtext!
Spectrum 128K Cassette: £3.95
It's nice to see a new company entering the adventure market. Let's face it, there are few enough releases about at present. Investiagtions has been written by Paul Tomkins and Robert Radburn of Graphtext 128 using Gilsoft's PAW. It includes over 100 locations, 88 objects and a 400-word vocabulary - all the ingredients of a promising adventure... have they got the mix right?
The game takes place in and around Redbourne Manor where it transpires that Lord Anthony Forbes has been murdered and you are on the case. You have only 14 hours to solve the dastardly deed before your department moves you onto something else. Luckily you have the help of another ace detective, Philip Keen, who follows you around and gives advice when he can.
Graphtext claim the game is very user-friendly in as much as you can move on to another problem if you get stuck at any point. It also reckons to have an answer for most inputs and offers lengthy EXAMINE descriptions. So putting aside my dislike for detective adventures - especially those with a time limit - I loaded the game.
I imagine it to be very difficult to program an adventure that relies on the player undertaking certain tasks at particular times - especially using a utility such as PAW because of the number of errors I come across in games of this ilk. I spent most of my time in Investigations hanging around using the WAIT command. One strange happening occurred whilst in the cook's room. One is supposed to enter her wardrobe and hide there until she comes into the room, hides a key under her pillow and leaves. I managed to clamber in and out of the wardrobe while she was still in the room she didn't notice me! Either she has a very large room with lots of places to hide or she's deaf and blind. Either way it showed a lack of attention to detail.
The graphics are nicely done but add nothing to the game, and the text descriptions are often so long that the MORE message is almost permanently on the screen.
Character interaction is fairly basic with SAY TO, QUESTION and INTERROGATE only revealing information if you ask the right person the right question at the right time or are carrying the correct item. However, the time limit is ample to glean some sort of indication of what is expected of you, and once on the right trail, investigations opens up into a fairly enjoyable game, with the RAMSAVE/LOAD option adding to playability. Unfortunately it is limited, with some solutions relying more on chance than detective work. Hopefully Graphtext's next product, Murder On The Manhattan will be a little better.
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