Clue Chronicles: Gem Hunt

The boat chapter is followed by a short section where you have to get a cable car working to get up the mountain to Ian Masque’s castle. Once there, you’re cut off from the outside world, which would be ideal for additional murders, but there have been no additional murders yet. Instead, the story shunts off into a puzzle hunt. Each of the six standard Clue characters was, at some point in the past, given a riddle hinting at the location of a hidden gemstone. They’re all hopeless at riddles, though, and spend their time standing in one place instead of hunting through the castle, so it’s up to the player find all the gems for them.

The biggest obstacle to this is the navigation system. The movement model in this game is Myst-like, a set of fixed camera positions with hotspots to turn and move between them. And sometimes the obvious and direct way to get to somewhere isn’t supported. You’ll enter a room and see a character to your right as you enter, but they wind up off-camera. So you click to turn right, but it turns you too far, possibly 180 degrees. That character is only accessible if you’re standing on some other spot, and you just have to keep looking for movement hotspots until you chance upon it.

At any rate, the puzzle design in this chapter isn’t bad. You’ve got six simultaneous goals to pursue, with complications in many: one person can’t remember their riddle, another doesn’t trust you enough to share it, and so forth. The special abilities of the extra cast are useful here, as when you help Professor Plum recover his memories with the aid of a hypnotist. (Not that the hynotist can go to him personally — that would involve moving from one spot! — but she can at least teach hypnosis to you so you can do her job for her.) And once you solve a riddle and know where the gem is, there’s still some kind of self-contained adventure-game puzzle or minigame. My only real complaint is that one of the minigames is a Lights Out puzzle, which seems like filler.

Mr. Masque’s corpse, if it is in fact his, spends all this time stashed in a walk-in freezer. Meanwhile, another of the guests, a stage magician, is preparing to perform a trick called “Escape from Death”. You might think this would be in poor taste after their host dropped dead in front of everyone, but this is not the sort of story were people react to death in normal human ways. It wouldn’t take a lot to adjust the dialogue to make them more human — just make everyone acknowledge that the sudden presence of death is the reason no one’s in the mood for riddle-games! But that assumes priorities that aren’t in evidence for the designers or, most likely, the players.

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