Cruise For A Corpse

Title           Cruise For A Corpse
Publisher       Delphine (1991)
                ['Classic Collection - Delphine', Delphine/Kixx (1994)]
Game Type       Adventure
Players         1
HD Installable  Yes
Compatibility   All Amigas (but only from PAL or NTSC WB, lowres pointer)
Submission      Dennis Smith

France, 1927; aboard the modernised sailing ship 'Karaboudjan III' there
has been a murder - the ship's owner, Niklos Karaboudjan found dead
by his butler. In best murder-mystery tradition one Inspector Raoul
Dusentier is amongst the passengers, at the invitation of Niklos himself.
but before he can properly assess the scene, some unknown figure knocks him
out from behind and the corpse is removed.

At 8 am the following morning Raoul wakes on the floor of Niklos' cabin,
and it is up to you to control his actions as he examines everything and
everybody on the ship in the hope of solving the mystery. Cruise For A
Corpse has a fairly standard graphic-adventure interface - clicking on
objects brings up a menu of possible actions associated with the object,
usually examine and take, and clicking elsewhere causes the inspector to
move that way. As well as moving around the ship by clicking from one exit
to another, there is a map which can be used to traverse rapidly from one
room or deck to another, a real godsend for games like this. In addition,
you can talk to the various characters on board, querying them about the
things you have observed or heard from other passengers. Whenever you have
made a useful discovery, the game clock progresses by ten minutes, from the
start at 8 am to the finale at 6 pm. Naturally, these sixty 'discoveries'
encompass many hours of gameplay.

The game looks great, though the use of polygons to make a scalable
inspector (Delphine's 'cinematique' animation system) makes the main
character stand out, looking not unlike a robot against the well-drawn
backdrop of the ship.  The atmospheric sound of the sea and creaking
timbers are unfortunately replaced in many scenes by repetitive dinky music
- an option to turn this off would be much appreciated.  The puzzles
themselves appear to be fairly simple - the first couple of scenes introduce
a vast array of objects which all seem to need separate tools (several
locks needing a key, a boarded-up door in need of a crowbar and various
other items needing a cross-head screwdriver, flat-head screwdriver,
claw-hammer, pincers and so on) with no toolbox to be found - but some or
all of these could be red-herrings - there is an enormous amount of detail
which can be examined.  The progression of the clock whenever you find out
something useful is a good key but it can lead to great frustration - there
are too many objects to examine and twiddle - sometimes appearing when the
plot is advanced - as well as doors that are locked or unlocked at
different times, new topics of conversation - that you find yourself going
over the relatively small area doing the same things over and over, hunting
for those precious pixels which will advance the game once more.

Although it is mostly missing the humour of the Lucas Arts graphic
adventures (except for unintentional absurdities in the translation from
French and one or two curious bugs) it is an atmospheric and well plotted
adventure with plenty to keep you at it.  It it weren't for the occasional
drag of having to hunt every corner of the ship for one new clue this would
be a truly great adventure.  As it is, it's still well worth a go if you're
fond of the genre.  

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