Reactions, of the Lukewarm and Surprisingly Pleased Varieties

First, the Lukewarm:

I recently finished the PC game Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None. I’m not sure I can describe it well without being spoilery, but it was rather odd. Although the voice acting was very good, the graphics (particularly of characters) were pretty weird-looking, and even in my limited experience, I’ve seen better in games that are older (Syberia). A lot of interviewing of characters is required in the beginning stages, and they just sort of sit or stand around vacantly as they wait to be approached by the player character.

The story takes place on an island, and one’s character is forced to partake in two stupid schemes to escape it that are clearly going to be unsuccessful. I was inclined to forego them entirely, but it’s impossible to progress without doing them. This makes one believe that the player character is pretty darn stupid if he thought there was a chance. The puzzles are interesting and inventory-driven, and I had a lot of fun figuring out the proper combinations of items to use, although some of puzzles seemed to really have no purpose whatsoever in the overall conclusion of the plot. By chapter 6, there aren’t more puzzles, and one’s PC just runs around, discovering victims.

I think I’d still recommend it, based on its good points, but it could definitely have been improved upon. Supposedly, several more Christie books will receive the same treatment, so hopefully they’ll learn some lessons from their first attempt.

The Surprisingly Pleased Reaction:

I recently finished reading Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen, which is a pretty creative take on a facet of the Arthurian legend. Probably because it’s a YA book, some of the “ooh, what’s going on here?” plot points were a little easy to figure out (at least my theories proved correct), but I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Enough that I bought my own copy (I’d had it from the library).

The basic gist of it is: Arthur is 22, and has been put on the throne by Merlin (here called Merlinnus). He doesn’t yet know that he has any legitimate claim to the throne. Morgause, the daughter of Igraine and the Duke of Cornwall, believes the claims for her sons are stronger, since her mother married Uther Pendragon after being widowed. Morgause starts some machinations to get her sons on the throne, and other people are grumbling anyway, so Merlinnus devises the scheme of the sword and the stone to convince people that Arthur is their true king. So, instead of the stone being some sort of mystical artifact, it’s really just a trick entirely invented by Merlin to get the populace all believe-y.

We get the story from several different points of view, often entering a scene with one character, and transitioning unnoticed to another, until it’s them we’re following after the conclusion of the exchange. Arthur, Merlinnus, Gawaine, Morgause, and a youth called Gawen are the main ones who receive this treatment.

I liked it because of little quirks of character (especially Sir Kay and the reactions his pomposity engenders), the wry element of trickery, Arthur’s endearing earnestness, and the nice tidy ending. Plus, Lancelot had a white streak in his hair and that’s cool and stuff.

The copy that I purchased was from, and was really really cheap, so if you’re inclined at all, I give this a strong recommendation.

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  1. […] As Michelle wrote recently, last fall they released a computer game based on the Agatha Christie book “And Then There Were None”. (Originally known as Ten Little Niggers, then Ten Little Indians, and apparently we have now decided Indians are too offensive as well, because in this game everything became Sailors. Let’s just hope the Navy doesn’t pitch a fit.) […]

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