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Have You Played... Cruise For A Corpse?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Not too long ago, I was lamenting Telltale’s latest set of license agreements. Sure, Borderlands has started well, but will Game of Thrones be another Walking Dead of sorts? A super-serious basket of grief – Something For The BleakEnd. What I’d really like to see is a season of Agatha Christie. I’m not fussy about the particulars: Marple, Poirot…even Tommy and Tuppence. But give me a quaint old-fashioned and very British whodunit series, with politeness, poisoning and tea with the vicar.

Until that day comes, at least we have Cruise For A Corpse.

It was, back in 1991, one of the most strikingly beautiful games I’d ever played. I suspect, looking at videos and screenshots now, that it was the animations rather than the backdrops that primarily impressed themselves onto my memory.

Whodunnits seem such a natural fit for the adventure game genre that it’s odd that we don’t see more of them. Traces can be detected far and wide, and there’s something of the investigator in the likes of George and Nico, but it’s rare to see a game about solving murders for the sake of it. There’s usually some grand globespanning conspiracy behind the murder, as if a little drop of poison between friends weren’t enough to spin a story around.

Cruise For A Corpse doesn’t fill the gap. It’s hard to find (though supported by ScummVM on modern machines should you have the game files handy) and some of the puzzles require painful pixel-hunting. But it doesn’t have a modern heir and its method of advancing time whenever the player discovers something of importance is a fine lesson in making good use of a limited setting.

A fine oddity, but the greatest mystery of all is how player character Raoul Dusentier manages to transition between portly middle age and strapping youth whenever the game switches from rendered scenes to illustrated conversations.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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