The Let's Play Archive

Compute!'s Gazette

by Chokes McGee

Part 24: Adnachiel - Mystery at Marple Mannor

Let’s Fail Play Mystery at Marple Manor!

(Compute!’s Gazette, September 1984, Vol 2, No. 9)

You are a detective who has been summoned to the titular mansion to solve a recently committed murder. Unfortunately, you didn’t get any information about what exactly happened. So you have to figure out exactly who was murdered in what location with what item by whom. Thankfully, the murderer has fled the scene with the weapon. So it’s just a process of elimination among the 10 possible suspects (and victims) and 12 possible items. Unfortunately, you might be competing with other detectives who are willing to sabotage you by hiding the evidence.

Fortunately for me, that is not the case.

I also don’t have to waste time getting up while other people fiddle with the game. And because the Honor System isn’t always reliable…

The game makes you enter in a two key secret code. (Just hitting Return/Enter twice works too.)

Here is a map of the mansion.

Players always start in the Foyer. At the start of your turn, you are given the choice to either leave the room or stay. If you stay, and whenever you enter a new room, you’re presented with these options.

The hiding and pilfering items options are useless in the single player game as the NPC suspects cannot move items around. In multiplayer, they let players move the possible murder weapons around and hide the suspects and the body of the victim to trip up the other players, because that's how criminal investigations work. You can only carry one item at a time. Suspects and victims can only be hidden in the room they're in.

Whenever you're in a new room, you always want to search it a couple of times for hidden suspects and items.

There was never anything in the Foyer when I played.

Along with suspects and items, the Pantry always has a collection of room keys that can be used to unlock various rooms in the mansion. Whenever you unlock a room with one, you have the option of locking the door behind you. Along with the regular keys is a Skeleton Key that unlocks all of the doors hidden somewhere else in the mansion. (In this playthrough, it was in the Bedroom.) For some reason, you don't get the option to lock doors behind you with the Skeleton Key.

After going through all of the rooms and searching every single one at least 4 times, here's what I came up with:

Foyer: Nothing
Dining Room: Duchess, Prime Minister
Kitchen: Nothing
Pantry: Fencing Foil, Chauffeur
Corridor: Carving Knife, Rope
Garage: Duke, Garden Spade
Pool: Nothing
Garden: body of Cook, Opera Star, Ice Pick
Hall: Chainsaw, Dueling Pistol
Greenhouse: Ambassador
Study: Polo Mallet, Weed Killer, Antique Mace
Bedroom: Nanny
Closet: Nothing
Bathroom: Plastic Bag

Somehow, two of the suspects, the Gardener and the Butler, were still unaccounted for after who knows how many turns spent searching.

There's no way the Gardener could have done it in the Garden with the Hedge Trimmers. That's way too obvious. The Butler's probably framing them, right?


The Good It’s probably kind of fun if you’re playing with other people and I like the little audio flourishes? (The title screen plays a bit of Toccata and Fugue. There’s a police siren noise right before it tells you if your accusation is correct.)

The Bad The single player game is incredibly lackluster and useless. The suspects do not have AI routines. So they’ll just stand around while you sniff them out instead of hiding evidence in a human player’s place. Which you will be doing a lot of, because the search action has a 50% chance of failing. (40% in the VIC-20 version, which also had a bunch of features removed to keep the size down.)

The game is text only. There is no in-game map or list of suspects and items outside of the menu for accusing someone (which you can't back out of). So if you don’t have a copy of the article for the game, you’re going to need to make a list of everything yourself. Not a bad thing if you’ve played text adventures/interactive fiction before, but you’re probably not winning your first game. There’s also no flavor text anywhere. That would have added a bit of color to a very drab and repetitive game.

The Weird

Speaking of text only games, here's an ad for Infocom...

... and the company that would buy them out in less than two years from when this issue was published.

And this guy and his eyebrows.