Clue Chronicles: Fatal Illusion
Review by Jen
In what must be a masterpiece of undermarketing, I had never
heard anything about this game despite being pretty plugged in
to what's going on in the adventure game business. I simply saw
it in my local Software Etc. and bought it based on my fond memories
of the board game Clue and because it looked likegasp!an
adventure game. And sure enough ... read on while I chronicle
my Clue experience.
Egypt, not long after the turn of the century. A shocking murder
in a tent by an assassin with an impressive array of weapons that
includes a knife, a candlestick, a rope ... (he uses the knife).
Fast forward to New Year's Eve 1938. The world is on the brink
of war, and a group of people find themselves thrown together
on a mysterious yacht cruising the Rhine on the way to attend
a mysterious party given by a mysterious host at his mysterious
castle atop a mysterious mountain. Murder and mayhem. What does
it all mean? You, as "Player," the private investigator,
must find out. Your mysterious host, Ian Masque, mysteriously
dies immediately after you hand him a Chinese puzzle box. You
interview all of the usual suspects, Colonel Mustard, Mrs. Peacock,
Miss Scarlet, et al., plus a handful of new characters tossed
into the mix just for this game. And no, Mrs. White did not
do it in the library with the wrench. I don't want to discuss
too much more about the premise for fear of taking away any surprises.
Suffice it to say, the story in this game is surprisingly tightly
plottednot what you'd expect from an adventure game based
on a board game.
There are definitely some odd things about this game. For instance,
great care was taken in rendering the locations, even down to
the moving reflections in the shiny hallway floor of the mansion.
But the characters would plunk themselves down in one spot and
not moveonce you knew where they were sitting, there they
would stay until the end of the act. Even if they were to get
up off their duffs and participate in a cutscene, they would return
to their original spots. And then since I figured this out right
away, of course I would always go right back to where I'd expect
to find a certain character, and the character would be gone!
only to magically reappear as soon as the CD quit spinning.
Fatal Illusion's interface was cumbersome. The backgrounds
and locations were richly detailed, but the directional movements
and what you can look at are severely limited. This made for a
very easy game. Again, too, you have to wait for the CD to spin
down before you can see your cursors. Inventory items are awkward
to useyou have to left-click on something to pick it up,
which is simple enough, and right-click on something to view itagain,
simple enoughbut to combine inventory items, you have to
pick one up and click it on the other, and then the bigger of
the two will pop up on your screen and the smaller one stays in
inventory, so you have to pick it up again and then put
it on the bigger item. Also, even if you know what to do with
an item, sometimes you aren't allowed to do it until it is "time."
On the other hand, there were a couple of times where I was allowed
to do something out of order, to the detriment of the gaming experience.
For instance, right near the beginning, there is a combination
lock. I had no clue what the combination might be and thought
I'd already talked everyone to death, and so I took the hint (there
is a built-in hint system, a nice feature), entered the room,
did everything there, and only later found I'd missed talking
to the character who gave me the clue to the combination. Other
times, you see something you'd like to fiddle with, and the "Player"
says, "better not fiddle with that until I know more about
it," and you have to get the character's clue first and then
go back to it. Very inconsistent, what?
Overall, though, despite what I just said, most of the puzzles
were logical and fun. Most of the first act aboard the yacht involves
talking to the characters and getting a feel for what's going
on, why the characters are there, and why they have been thrown
together to attend the party. The second act is purely mechanical
manipulation as you repair a cable car to take you to the mountaintop
mansion. The third act, the bulk of the game, is where the puzzles
get really intenseyou must get a clue from each "color"
character and locate six jewels based on their clues. The puzzles
are mostly pretty easy, but there are a couple of stumpers. I
do confess to resorting to the hints more than once, maybe even
more than twice, if the truth be told.
Character interaction is done via use of a notebook. You click
on the character with whom you wish to speak, and the notebook
pops up with the available questions/remarks. You click on the
one you want to try, the full question shows up on the bottom
of the screen, and then you click on that to actually "say"
it. However, there are no dialogue trees; you simply ask what
questions are on the notebook and that's it. You, as "Player,"
have no voicethere is just a moment of silence and then
the game character gives a response. This was a little disconcerting
at first but turned into a blessing since you didn't have to listen
to yourself "read" the question.
The voice acting is simply atrocious. Every character has a (bad)
accent, and they all sound like they're reading from a script
into a microphone in the conference room there at Hasbro's headquarters.
The music is awful, too. It's much too repetitive. However, there
are options for turning down both music and voices, and you can
even turn on subtitles. I turned the music down and turned up
both the voices and the subtitles, and the subtitles didn't always
match what the characters were saying, and I don't mean just a
word here and theresometimes whole sentences would be missing
from the text.
Overall, despite its many flaws, Clue Chronicles: Fatal Illusion
was a fun game to play, if too short (it took me maybe six
Developer: Engineering Animation, Inc.
Release Date: November 1999
Four Fat Chicks Links
133 MHz Pentium
16 MB RAM
2 MB SVGA video card compatible with DirectX version 6.0 or higher
80 MB free hard drive space
Where to Find It
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