Clue Chronicles: Fatal Illusion

The other day, some friends, who have been playing occasional board games online while unable to meet in person, decided to play Clue (aka Cluedo). I personally had never actually played Clue before, although I had seen the movie and was familiar with the characters and weapons. The computer adaptation we used is of course just the latest and most modern in a long line of adaptations, stretching back to a SNES release from 1992. The 1998 CD-ROM version for PC is of particular note for being the first game in the franchise to spawn a spin-off, Clue Chronicles: Fatal Illusion, a first-person adventure game that reuses its predecessor’s character models. Even though I had not yet played the board game when it came out, the idea of an adventure game based on a board game was novel enough to get me to purchase it probably a year or two after its release — although not enough to make me finish it.

Amazingly, it installs and runs without problems under Windows 10. As of this writing, I’ve played through the first chapter, which takes place on the boat taking the cast to a mysterious castle they’ve all been invited to. I think this is farther than I got on my first attempt, but that was about 20 years ago, so my memories are hazy.

It’s a slow-paced game, consisting of a lot of asking every character about every dialogue topic and certain amount of object puzzles, and as far as I’ve seen so far, not very concerned with detective work or deduction. There’s a very B-movie feel to it. Not just because of the dated-looking pre-rendered CGI, but because of the adventure-game unreality, the world of arbitrary illogic. Both contribute to a creeping sense of wrongness that actually fits the murder-house story pretty well. The game gives the usual Clue suspects backstories and relationships, but at the same time, none of them quite seem real. For the most part I’m choosing to let the strangeness just wash over me, Twin-Peaks-like, but it would be easy to choose to laugh at it instead. In fact, there was one moment that made me laugh out loud despite myself: in the intro cutscene, an unknown person opens a case to reveal all six canonical Clue weapons in molded insets. Yes, someone in this blatantly false world made a special carrying case for clearly improvised weapons like the wrench, candlestick, and lead pipe.

In addition to the various Professor Plums and Colonel Mustards and so forth, we get an assortment of early-20th-century magicians, occultists, and experts in the paranormal, all invited to a New Year’s Eve party by an eccentric antiquarian who gets killed before they even get off the boat. It seems likely that he won’t be the last victim, because what else are all these extra guests for? In fact, the obvious twist would be that he faked his death to escape blame when he starts slaughtering his guests. The biggest clue would be that his apparent death was caused by a booby-trapped puzzle box rather than by any of the six standard weapons in the case.

No Comments

Leave a reply