The Lambeley Mystery is a three-part text adventure based around episodes from the casebook of famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Watson.
Presentation is excellent. The text is white on black using a very readable font. The screen layout is very clean with a upper status bar sectioned off from the rest of the text. This bar holds information on your remaining cash, score, the date and time of day.
Location descriptions tend to be lengthy and atmospheric, although I did find many (too many) location objects were ignored by the EXAMine command. I appreciate the constraints of memory but I think I should've had a decent description of Sherlock's prized violin!
In fact, it was the straight denial that objects existed or could be manipulated that proved the most frustrating thing about this adventure, along with my efforts to try to TALK to people - it doesn't always get a response. RAMSAVE and LOAD is supported, though, which proved very handy on more than one occasion.
The Lamberley Mystery is a fairly simple game, very linear, but it gives you the impression there's more to it. It proves very disheartening to find this gloss is only skin deep.
Contact Point: 26 Spotland Tops, Cutgate, Rochdale Lance OL12 7NX
Ah, good old Sherlock. He hasn't featured in an adventure for... ooh, at least 3 months! But to show there's life in the old 'tec yet, here's a very tasty adventure written by a name I don't know, Ian Eveleigh. Ian's to be congratulated on a very professional game. Apart from the lack of graphics, The Lamberley Mystery probably bears comparison with the old Melbourne House Sherlock. And that's not to denigrate that classic - it just shows how standards have improved in the last few years. One-time revolutionary features are now bog-standard. In fact there are so many features here that I decided to stick them together in a box, leaving me to get on with telling you the story.
It's 1887 and the game begins, as per usual, with Holmes and Watson at home in Baker Street. The first location description's so lengthy it scrolls off the screen, which is a bit of a nuisance as you have to keep typing LOOK to remind you what's in the room (fireplace, table, book shelves and so on). Before long, though, your faithful pageboy enters with a telegram. (Ah, the inevitable telegram!) This is from your little-known brother, Mycroft, who informs you that a friend of his called Dr Fordham will be calling in on you at 11.30. A quick glance at the clock shows that it's 11.06, Hopkins of the Yard seems to be getting nowhere with his investigations, so Mycroft suggested Holmes might be the ideal man for the job. Yes indeed, we've all heard of Ideal Holmes. (You're fired. Ed)
While the game's just chocka with detail, it does have a few features that could have been improved, so making it easier for beginners. If you don't quiz Fordham fully while he's there, he'll scarper without giving you the all-important info about where he lives. That'll leave you with a street full of hansom cabs outside your front door, but no directions to give the chirpy cockney driver. So where will you go? Nowhere, that's where.
While we're on the faults, another is the way it uses containers. You might open a drawer and find an object inside, or even just examine the hat stand in the hall to learn there's a coat on it. Try to GET COAT and you'll be told you can't see one. The new player might think there's a fault in the program, and not realise that you have to type GET COAT FROM HAT STAND to make it work. There's no credit to PAWS that I can see, but this is a sign that it's been used, with the hat stand designated as a container (so therefore what's in it isn't regarded by the program as being in the same location as the player). A bit naughty.
On the other hand, there's a lot of good stuff that lifts Lamberley out of the ordinary. Plenty of other characters wander around, going about their business. Press the bell in Holmes's sitting room and the landlady Mrs Hudson pops in with a beef sandwich! And in the hall there's a stool where the pageboy sits waiting to open the door for visitors when he's got nothing else to do. There's a cash balance given, and this alters as you pay cab drivers, buy rail tickets and so on.
The game's in 3 parts, hence I suppose the slightly higher price, but unlike most 3-parters you don't automatically progress from one to 2 to 3. You can move to any part any time you like, and as often as you like, with instructions given when you save your game in order to load it into the next part. As far as I can see, you will need to come back to Part 1 at least once. With the problem-solving part of the game, however, it is more a case of slow logical progression while you discover what's happened and try to sort it all out. It'll have more appeal to the experienced player because you'll need to come up with the right questions to ask the right people at the right time, and those aren't always easy to figure out (or get word perfect). The Lamberley Mystery is'nt a great game. But it's a pretty damn good one.
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