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The Whitechapel Killer
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Jack the Ripper and his murderous activities has long been the source of inspiration for a variety of projects. Including among this collection of macabre pieces of work is the Casual Arts developed game. This product is Mystery Murders - Jack the Ripper published by Avanquest.
The usual options are available to those playing this exploration into the world of a legendary serial killer. Profiles can be created to record the progress of different players. Adjustments can be made to the volume levels used by background music and sound effects including the spoken dialogue delivered by voice actors. A choice of two difficulty levels are available. You can opt for Casual difficulty that comes with a tutorial, sparkles to identify active areas and fast charging of the Hint and Skip features or Challenge level with no tutorial or sparkles and a slower charging rate for the Hint and Skip features.
The game is played through the eyes of three different characters. At various points during the game you are led by Emma de Ville, a clairvoyant who includes William Gull, the physician to the Queen, as a client. Emma tends to suffer from nightmarish visions and has become reliant on laudanum to bring about a good night's sleep. Representing the legal authorities is Inspector Fred Abberline who is assigned to investigate the series of murders due to the fact that the early part of his police career had been spent in Whitechapel where the murders had occurred. Completing the trio of characters investigating these crimes is Frank Hudson, a reporter on the Star newspaper, who is looking to improve his career as he composes articles and takes photos of crime scenes that reveal mystic symbols.
Arranged across the bottom of the full screen view of the various scenes, making up the game, are the main tools available to the player. Taking up a central position is the inventory holding items which have been collected or awarded. To the left of this are a notebook which automatically records findings and a Menu option which includes an opportunity to close down the game. Situated to the right of the inventory is the game's Hint feature and a headshot of the current character. The Hint icon will be that of a crystal ball, typewriter or police badge depending on who is the lead character. Additional assistance is provided by the mouse cursor which changes shape to indicate when different actions are possible.
As well as providing a running commentary regarding their actions, the three main characters have conversations with other characters. The dialogue will be presented in text format and delivered by voice actors. While the on-screen appearance of the game characters were decidedly wooden, dialogue delivery was more realistic.
During the game you will be faced by numerous Hidden Object scenes. Combining a cluttered variety of objects with a designated list of items in text format, you will be required to find all the requested items. Not all the listed items will be initial visible. In some cases you will need to open a container or remove an obstruction in order to reveal an object. No clue will be given as to when this type of task will be required. Generally the completion of a Hidden Object scene will bring a reward of two of the items found.
Along with collecting Tarot cards and dealing with mythical symbols, the game contains a selection of puzzles. These puzzles will often involve moving or adjusting elements of a scene so that it is recognisable. You might need to swap segments or rotate them. Other puzzles require the development of crime scene photos or the creation of laudanum from opium and other ingredients.
Looking at the crimes of Jack the Ripper from three viewpoints certainly helped the flow of the story and keeps the player interested. The use of red herrings, whereby keys were present in scenes where they had no use, added to the game's challenge. The game requires a 800 MHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 527MB of hard disk space running Windows XP and later. I have seen this product listed on On-Buy.com priced at £2.75.
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