There are dozens upon dozens of fictional detectives out there solving murders, so choosing your favourite could be a little tricky. Maybe you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes and his superior powers of deduction, or the gadgets and comic book stylings of Batman. Well as far as I’m concerned, none of these mystery solving folks can hold a candle to Hercule Poirot. I became a bit obsessed with the sharp dressed egg-shaped detective a number of years ago thanks to listening to a whole lot of Poirot audiobooks, so hearing that a new game featuring the little charmer was coming had me quite excited. Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot: The London Case will certainly get those little grey cells working, but it might not please everyone.
Set early on in his detective career, Hercule Poirot: The London Case features a slightly more dashing than usual Poirot on an early excursion to London. Hired to ensure the safety of a valuable painting, you start your journey on a ferry where you meet up with sidekick for the game Arthur Hastings. Arthur is an insurance agent for Lloyds of London, and isn’t really cut out to be looking for criminals. When the painting (shock horror) goes missing though, it’s up to this misfit duo to figure out the culprit.
From the very start of the game, you’ll need to get used to Poirot’s particularly outlandish appearance. Sporting a stylish pink jacket and tie, this egg-like Belgian has never looked better. The same can’t really be said for the other character though, and in general the character models in Hercule Poirot: The London Case just look a bit off. Everyone just looks a bit startled and odd, with Arthur especially looking a bit of a state. For a game that’s mainly about talking to people to find out information it’s not particularly ideal.
The majority of chapters of The London Case have a single mystery to solve, that’ll usually lead you down a new path on your adventure. To uncover all the clues you need to save the day you’ll need to wander around the environment and interact with everything that’s interactive, and occasionally use an item you pick up on something else. It’s simple point and click style gameplay, but it gets the job done and you still feel like a genius when you find something new and realise how it fits into the overall picture.
Once you’ve found a few clues, you’ll usually have a few things you want to talk about with the relevant NPCs. There are museum curators, famous actors and disgruntled preachers who all become interwoven into the story, but none of them are a match for the mind of one Hercule Poirot. When none of these lot are around you’ll often just end up bouncing ideas of Arthur, and by slowly talking him through the details of the situation you’ll unlock new nodes for your mind map.
If you’ve played any of the recent Sherlock Holmes games you’ll probably feel right at home with the mind map, which is essentially a big grid of facts about the current scene you find yourself in. The aim of this particular crime busting mini game is to choose two related facts that prove something is amiss, then a line will be drawn between them and a new fact will be added to the web. It’s a nice way to ensure you understand what’s going on at any given time, and if you’re stumped looking for new connection then after a few wrong attempts the game will highlight the right answer for you.
The only other logic based gameplay you’ll find in Hercule Poirot: The London Case involves selecting the right evidence to show to someone you’re chatting to, so you can carry on a conversation about what’s going on. When this requires you to pick more than one option at a time to prove something, you really have to make sure you’re on the game’s wavelength. There were quite a few instances where I struggled with this and just had to randomly select options until Poirot finally said what I wanted, and it wasn’t a particularly fun experience.
Fans of point and click games will probably have a decent time with Hercule Poirot: The London Case, but it has its fair share of issues. Things like the quality of the voice acting (and how the voices don’t quite fit the characters) really hurt the game, and it’s not the most gripping experience in the world to begin with. Poirot himself moves so slowly too, which, when you’re looking for something you missed across a few screens, is pretty painful.
Fans of detective games, and classic PC point and click titles will probably get a kick out of Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot: The London Case, but compared to its peers it has a few too many issues to recommend it to everyone. If you’re a diehard Poirot nut then you probably don’t need much convincing to play this, but don’t go in expecting the best of the best.
A fun romp with everyone's favourite detective
Feels good when you piece together a mystery
A point and click style throwback
Sometimes the game logic seems off
The voice acting isn't great
Poirot moves way too slow
Not great looking