Guest Author - Lisa Shea
Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile for the PC is sort of a combination of Where's Waldo with a few mini-games and memory tests. The Death on the Nile aspect is more an environment for the puzzles than a re-creation of the novel.
It's important to go into the game with this expectation. If you're expecting a lot of interactivity - figuring out what to ask the suspects, ferreting out clues from them, exploring the ship free-form to figure out what happened, you'll be disappointed. From a novel-following standpoint, there is a questioning phase during the game, but it just involves you clicking down a list of questions and paging through their answers. If anything, it just means you have to memorize who was where for later puzzle use.
The primary part of the game is the Where's Waldo item finding. In the beginning, it's relatively easy. You get a set amount of time, and are shown a "picture" - an image of a room crowded with stuff. On the left, you're given the things you have to find - a lizard, a crown, a key, and so on. Sometimes the items are fairly obvious. At other times, the lizard might be a light green design on the dark green curtains.
As you get deeper into the game, the number of pictures you have to get through - and the number of items in each room - grows greatly. You're searching images of kitchens, bedrooms, engine rooms and much more, trying to track down the items they indicate. You do get a few hints you can use on each level, if you are truly stuck. If you run out of time or simply can't find the items, you can restart that level.
The nice thing about the game is with all the rooms and the vast number of items in each room that can be put on the list, you can replay the game several times. Each time it randomizes which items you need to figure out. There will always be a few "key items" - clues that propel the plot forward - but really most of it is random. We found that this was a fun thing for us all to do together - hanging out on the couch, staring at the laptop, helping each other find the rose or lion or whatever. It's something that old and young alike can understand and participate in.
That being said, some of the items were REALLY annoying. The dark brown smudge in the back corner didn't look at all like whatever item they claimed it was. They tell you to look for "screws" but actually the items are bolts.
The mini-games in between these Waldo-hunts were fun. Just like the picture puzzles, they start out very easy, but grow in complexity. None really stumped us for more than a minute or two, but they give your brain a nice little test. A few of them require for you to have been questioning the suspects - or at least have read the book - to know how to match up motives with characters.
In all, a fun game which kept us busy for a few hours on a rainy afternoon. If you have family members who love "Where's Waldo" style picture-hunting, you could probably replay it for weeks on end and still enjoy it.