Monday 10 December 2012

Cruise for a Corpse (PC Review)

We love point-and-click adventures here at Retro101. Even though we've completed these games many times over, we're always compelled to go back and experience them again and again. Unfortunately some games receive less attention than the others, perhaps a brief go on a cover disk demo many years ago failed to capture our imagination, or our busy gaming schedules left some titles out in the cold. Cruise for a Corpse is one such title I'd never given much attention to. However, after playing it recently, I couldn't quite figure out why.

You play as Detective Raoul Desentier, who is invited on a cruise by wealthy businessman Niklos Karaboudjan. On the second day Niklos is murdered, and it's your job to find the culprit. Every passenger aboard has their reasons for killing the host, so you have to search for clues, ask questions and use your skills of deduction to solve the mystery.

Based on that summary, chances are you will have decided whether you're going to like this game or not. It's a title aimed at a more adult audience than most other adventures, and will no doubt appeal more to fans of Christie's Poirot novels, but we ask you give it a chance. If you do, you'll find a game which requires plenty of concentration, memory, and more than a little patience.

Upon release, Cruise stood out from other titles in the genre due to its good looks and streamlined control system. A click of the right mouse button brings up your inventory, and by clicking on an item you can carry out an item-specific action. Lucas Arts used a more refined system in some of their post Monkey Island 2 classics. The lack of verbs filling a third of the screen allowed the graphics more breathing room, which is a good thing as the characters are pretty huge.

The rotoscoping technique from Another World (and later, Flashback) was employed here, yet felt nowhere near as smooth. The adventure genre isn't always renowned for its fast moving gameplay, but Cruise can, at times, really push the player's patience. On investigating one room, Desentier knelt down to pull out a suitcase, then stood up. Then he knelt down to open the suitcase, and stood up. Then, to put the case back, he – yep, you guessed it – knelt down again. The fact you have to wait for the animations to finish their cycle can grate a little, yet the game allows you to travel around the ship by using a map instead of walking, which is a nice touch.

Another positive feature to the game is the clock. After you've found some crucial information, the clock will appear onscreen and advance by ten or twenty minutes. It's a good way of telling you you're making progress, and also suggests the other passengers have moved around the ship, allowing you to investigate rooms without hindrance. So, Cruise for a Corpse is worth playing. Just keep in mind you will need to be patient and accepting of its flaws.

I advise you to keep a notepad and pen with you, as the questions you ask people keep growing and growing, and you may get to a point where you can't remember who's been asked what. It's also advised to check areas previously investigated, as items often appear from nowhere, as your line of questioning triggers a key object in solving the case. It's not a game for everyone, but those who do make it to the end of the cruise, will be glad they did.

Written by Dan Gill


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