Solve the Moonstone Mystery
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Credited with being the first true detective novel, Wilkie Collins “The Moonstone” is the basis for a hidden object investigation game now available as part of Avanquest’s Click & Play label. As I have not read the Wilkie Collins novel I can not comment on how closely this game follows the original version. However the appearance of the detective in this game has more than a passing resemblance to David Suchet’s Poirot characterisation especially with regards to the moustache.
The game opens with a brief sequence showing the Moonstone being liberated (alright stolen) by British soldiers from its original Indian owners in 1799. Following this interlude the game shoots forward 50 years to Verinder Manor inEnglandwhere Detective Sergeant Cuff is arriving to investigate the second theft of the Moonstone. This time the victim is Rachel Verinder who has just inherited the precious jewel from her uncle on reaching the age of 18. Proclaiming that everybody staying in the Manor is a suspect, Cuff sets about searching the rooms used by each of the nine suspects including Rachel.
Taking on the role of Cuff, the central point of your investigations is the Desk which displays a card for each of the nine suspects showing their portrait, name and a brief description of their role in the story. As her card is already highlighted, it seems the obvious start to the investigation should be with Rachel Verinder, the young heiress to the legendary Moonstone diamond. Actually you are given no choice in this matter with Rachel being the only option open to you.
During the period when the diamond could have been stolen, Rachel visited four rooms which you need to visit. The order in which you carry out this action is entirely up to you. However you will find that the tasks you need to complete in some rooms will require items that might not be available in that location. As a result some rooms will need to be visited more than once.
In each room your main task will be to locate various objects listed in a panel running down the left of the screen. There will be a mixture of single items and some that require you to find multiple instances of an item. Initially there will not be enough room to list all the required items and so some will only appear when replacing items already found. Fortunately there is no penalty for indiscriminate clicking as some of the items are well hidden in the different scenes.
There is a Hint feature and this will circle the area in which an item is located. However the circle disappears almost as soon as it is formed. There were several occasions when I really struggled to identify the encircled item even when there were only a couple left to locate. The Hint feature is of the rechargeable type and takes longer to carry out the process the more it is used.
Occasionally some of the items you find will become tools that you can use in your investigation to locate clues. Sometimes a tool will disappear after you have used it but on occasions it could remain in your inventory. From time to time you will need to complete a mini-puzzle which could involve opening a combination lock or reassembling a letter that had been torn into pieces.
After investigating all the rooms visited by Rachel, you will be issued with a report that contains the suspect’s testimony plus deductions and possible motives. You can then return to the Desk screen and select from any of the suspects that have become available for investigation. After you have dealt with all the suspects then you will need to examine the clues and deductions before naming whoever you feel was guilty of the crime.
In total the game consists of 36 investigations spread over 18 rooms with a wide range of cleverly hidden objects to locate. There are also a number of cut scenes featuring the various suspects and Sergeant Cuff with spoken dialogue. Background music from Tchaikovsky is heard throughout the game. The Moonstone is certainly challenging but it is not a game that I really enjoyed playing and it would not feature as one of my favourite titles. Priced at £10.20, The Moonstone requires a 800MHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 168MB of hard disk space running Windows XP and later.
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