Bow Street Runner

By Jim Rossignol on February 13th, 2008 at 10:49 am.

Pump Harlots for information
British Broadcasters Channel 4 send word of the first of their new online games, a rather well produced point-and-click detective adventure Bow Street Runner, which is set to arrive in a number of episodes in the coming months. The game is aimed to educate players about the work of the early police force – The Bow Street Runners – who were tasked with cleaning up the crime-ridden horrors of Georgian London. Surprisingly, it’s pretty good.

Dead, that one.

The game is a basically a hotspot search, but that works, given the detective tasks that face you. There’s also quite a bit of convincingly delivered dialogue, and interrogation, which I believe is delivered by actors from the City Of Vice TV show, with which the game is associated. Consequently the game is a high quality affair the likes of which we don’t often see, even in commercially produced point and click games. There are some really nice touches in the smaller puzzles too, such as lifting things from people’s pockets or clearing away rubble to get to evidence. A simple instance of what browser-based gaming is capable of, wrapped in a rather authentic package.

I believe authenticity is the core theme here: it is teaching us about what it was like for the early coppers, and for the magistrates who tried to put the rule of law back into the nastiest times of the Big Smoke. This is one of the games intended to “edutain”, and if Channel 4 can maintain this level of quality in the online games then this is the kind of thing that could, and should, end up in school history lessons. Not that anyone actually studies the Georgian era these days, but y’know, in principle.

, , .

9 Comments »

  1. Cargo Cult says:

    Televisual historical educatory adventure games are no fun unless they’ve gone to the effort of personalising it around the player’s identity.

    The BBC did it – the lead character shares my real name. To say it was a bit freaky for me trying to play it would be an understatement.

    (Are there any real-world Guybrush Threepwoods out there also wishing to complain?)

  2. InsertNameHere says:

    That really is rather good. I look forward to future episodes.

  3. Chris says:

    I like the fact that there’s a finite amount of attempts and fixed time limits on things, and you can’t try again if you fail. It actually gave one of the last scenes (which I messed up) a lot more resonance.

  4. matte_k says:

    Voiced by actors from the TV show, you say? Does that include Emperor Palpatine undercover? :)

    And on the subject of English history, might I recommend John O’Farrell’s pleasing book “An Utterly Impartial History of Britain (or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge)” It’s rather amusing…

  5. Matthew Craig says:

    Hugo Speer’s let himself go.

    Also, now that I have solved a crime AND provided medical assistance to an injured lady, I demand my own daytime TV show, produced by a former writer of Amazing Spider-Man. It could be called

    DIAGNOSIS: CRAIGY
    CRAIGY: SHE WROTE
    PETROCRAIGY
    Or possibly BERGERACRAIGYI’ll get me coat.

    //\Oo/\\

  6. matte_k says:

    @ Matthew Craig: lol, yeah, Hugo’s aged a tad…
    but i’m pretty sure I recognise the guy playing his character, just can’t work out where from…

    The game is actually quite good, way better than the awful CSI games, the only thing I found frustrating was the mouse action minigames, so many times your cursor would stray from the line and you have to start all over again. In the wound sewing up game, you’re against the clock, and precious time is wasted waiting for the restart. Still, top marks for effort, hopefully some more episodes on the way

  7. Fazer says:

    Spoiler ahead:

    Rescueing the harlot was annoying and nearly impossible. Shame there is no possibility of saving the game. But overally it’s a pretty nice piece of work.

  8. Lacero says:

    For me it was impossible. The game froze on the first “Success” until the clock counted down, there was nothing to click on.

    Still, it was fun apart from that. I like the atmosphere, but find it strange and confusing when actors and the crew and even designers get credited above programmers in a game.

  9. Ladders says:

    Thanks for your feedback on our Bow Street Runner game and for helping us dig out all the bugs in the BETA version. Your input has been invaluable and has buoyed the team who are currently knee-deep in building the other four episodes. Episode one should now be totally fixed and is fully launched today so give it another go… and since you have already had a practise you should get through to episode two with no problems. In this fixed up version your esteem will be carried over to the other episodes… so if you want to be reminded when they’re going live simply leave your email address on the form at the bottom of the game page.

    That’s it for now… good luck with stitching up the harlot!

    To go to the game log onto: http://www.channel4.com/bowstreetrunner