Agatha Christie:And Then There Were None is the title of a 2005 point-and-click adventure game. The game is a detective murder-mystery; it begins with nine people, including Patrick Narracott, the playable character, who meet and journey to the fictional Shipwreck Island. There, two additional onscreen characters are introduced, and the story then follows the events that unfold.
And Then There Were None retains most of the basic plot elements of Agatha Christie'snovel of the same name, with the major differences being the inclusion of the playable character, Patrick Norracott, and the creation of a range of possible endings. In order to further the connection between the game and its source material, Christie's novel is included in the North American release of the game.
Reactions to the game were mixed, with many reviewers polarized in their opinions: some calling it a good adaptation of the novel; others, an extremely poor adventure game. Several reviews harshly criticized the game's character design and graphics as being archaic and outdated, whereas others praised aspects such as character dialogue and an immersive story.
A Wii version of the game was released in February 2008. It features several motion-sensitive actions, made possible with use of the Wii Remote, such as digging and turning.
Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None was followed by a second game, Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express; also based on a Christie novel, but with a plot unrelated to that of the first game
And Then There Were None is a point-and-click adventure game, played from a third-person perspective. Most of the interactive elements of And Then There Were None consist of asking other characters questions, and collecting and combining items. The player can carry items using an inventory system, and use the inventory to combine and examine items throughout the game. Twelve items can be viewed at a time, and there are several screens in the inventory. New items are slotted into the first available space in the inventory. The game's cursor is context-sensitive, and changes into a rotating gear when held over an item the player can interact with and use. And Then There Were None features a 2.5D graphics engine, which combines pre-rendered backgrounds with And Then There Were None is divided into chapters, which are further divided into acts. The player plays through each act, and after completing a certain trigger event, the next act begins. The developers ensured that nothing essential to the game could be missed during the player's progression through the game's acts, although large sections of gameplay are optional, and the player may ignore many of the side-quests. This divided progression in time adds another dimension to gameplay, as not only does the player have to be in the right place to find a clue or solve a puzzle, but must be there at the right time. For example, an empty room in one act could hold a vital clue in the next.
And Then There Were None features a journal system to aid in the collection and piecing together of clues. The in-game journal records everything that the player needs to advance in the game. For example, the journal records conversations the player has with other characters, so that if they forget what was said, which could potentially be plot-essential, it will still be accessible. One of the reasons for the incorporation of a journal system in And Then There Were None is to prevent the player wandering aimlessly, unable to proceed. Another reason for the addition of a journal was because the developers of the game did not want the player to have to use resources outside of the game, such as pen and paper, to solve the puzzles. The journal is separated by content into several categories. These include a characters page, which lists all the characters by name and includes details about them, and separate pages for important items, documents and books. This information can be referenced at any time by the player, as it is needed.
Another feature of And Then There Were None is the "Suspicion Meter", which measures the player's relationship with other characters in the game. The meter was devised to counteract a common problem in adventure games, where the player can rifle through other characters' belongings in front of them, without any problem. There are negative consequences if the player is caught doing things that other characters deem inappropriate, and this directly affects the "Suspicion Meter". The meter begins at a neutral position with each character in the game. If the player does an unfavorable action, the meter falls to negative one, and if the player does a favorable action the meter rises to positive one. The meter only contains three positions, and depending on the position the meter is at in regards to a certain character, dialogue actions with that character are affected.
The player is able to regain the approval of characters through several "Suspicion Meter" puzzles. These require the player to perform certain tasks for other characters, based on their likes and dislikes. The puzzles include multiple inventory items and combining items and can be quite complicated. The player is sometimes required to talk to other characters to learn about a certain person, or have them influence a particular person.
Setting and characters
And Then There Were None is set in 1939, on the eve of World War II, and the story takes place in "a beautiful mansion on the deserted Shipwreck Island." The player can explore the Art Deco-style mansion, which has two levels, and includes a secret room behind a bookcase in the library. The surrounds of Shipwreck Island, including a beach, a forest, and an apiary, are also explorable.
The player character is Patrick Narracott, the brother of Fred Narracott. Patrick is the game's only character not mentioned in Christie's original novel. The other characters are the guests, Dr. Edward George Armstrong, William Henry Blore, Emily Caroline Brent, Vera Elizabeth Claythorne, Philip Lombard, General John Gordon Mackenzie, Anthony James Marston, and Judge Lawrence John Wargrave, and two servants, Thomas and Ethel Rogers.
The game begins with eight people traveling to the fictional seaside town of Sticklehaven. They have each been invited by "U.N. Owen" to a mansion on Shipwreck Island, a small island located off the coast of Devon. Arriving in Sticklehaven, they meet Patrick Narracott, the game's only playable character, and the brother of boatman Fred Narracott. Narracott claims his brother is sick, so he has filled in at the last minute. His brother has actually been framed for a crime which he did not commit, and Narracott believes that by taking the guests to the island he can find proof of his brother's innocence. Once the group reaches Shipwreck Island they meet two new servants who have also just recently arrived, but U.N. Owen is nowhere to be found. The servants, who have never met U.N. Owen, play a recording left for the guests, and on it a mysterious voice proceeds to accuse the servants and guests, excluding Narracott, of murder. Narracott soon discovers that his boat has been sabotaged and is unusable; meaning they are stuck on the island. The game then progresses through the murders of each of the guests, following events of the novel closely. None of these murders can be avoided, and the player has no control over plot developments until near the end. Narracott sleuths around the island throughout the game, and a number of critical discoveries are made. The player can influence the outcome of the game, and this results in four possible endings. One ending has Vera and Patrick the only survivors. Another ending is Patrick and Lombard the only survivors. Another ending is only Patrick surviving and him and his brother fleeing the country. The last ending is happiest, with Lombard, Patrick and Vera the only survivors
And Then There Were None was announced on February 3, 2005, as the first in a series of games based on novels by Agatha Christie. For the release, The Adventure Company collaborated with developer AWE Productions. Lee Sheldon was named Lead Designer and writer for the game, while Scott Nixon, from AWE Productions, was appointed Managing Director.
Several reasons led The Adventure Company to choose the novel And Then There Were None as the basis for the first game in its Agatha Christie series of games, in contrast to some of Christie's other novels involving famous detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. One reason was the immense popularity of the novel, and the added bonus a popular title would have in marketing the game. Also, the restricted setting of the island was appealing to the designers, as it allows the player more freedom of movement. Instead of artificial barriers impeding the player, the island is naturally barriered, so the setting is less linear than a larger setting would be.
One major obstacle in the development of And Then There Were None was gaining the approval of aspects of the game from Chorion, the company which owns the rights to Agatha Christie's works. The development team met with Mathew Prichard, Christie's grandson, and other members of Chorion. While protective of Christie's license, Chorion was quite open about changes to the plot, as long as they were within the "style" of Christie's novels. These included a change to the identity of the killer and the addition of a player character. Chorion also allowed a change to be made to the figurines at the table, one of which was removed for each person murdered. After being changed from 'niggers' to 'Indians' to 'soldiers boys' with subsequent publications of the novel And Then There Were None, Sheldon wanted to change them again for the game. He successfully renamed them 'sailor boys', to fit in with the boat moored on the island. Chorion did not accept all the changes proposed by the developers, rejecting the idea of a one-man submarine the player can operate as not being in the style and vein of Christie's work.
The survival of Vera and Lombard, and the change of the General's name from MacArthur to MacKenzie, were both used by Christie herself in a 1943 stage adaption of the novel.
The introduction of Patrick Narracott as the eleventh character on the island was a major plot change to And Then There Were None. One reason for Narracott's introduction was the developer's desire to explore a semi-romance between him and Vera Claythorne, an attractive young woman on the island. Another reason for Narracott's addition was that the developers wanted the player to connect to a more human character, rather than a nameless one.
The main concern designer Lee Sheldon had with the game was the emphasis placed on story and dialogue. Early on in the game's development, Sheldon had played around with the idea that the killer could change every time a player played the game. The idea of open-ended, modular gameplay was quickly discarded, as Sheldon thought it didn't pay homage to Christie's work, and it wouldn't have made sense. The orders of the murders then forced Sheldon down a linear path, and the numerous cut scenes, cinematics and long dialogues in the game were needed because the novel is composed largely of dialogue. Sheldon strived to make the puzzles a seamless part of the game's environment and plot, and hoped that they wouldn't seem tacked on simply for the sake of a puzzle.
The designers of And Then There Were None decided to leave the game in its original time period, in the lead up to World War II in the 1930s. Sheldon was firmly against updating the game to a modern time period, calling this "a futile attempt to attract an audience that really doesn't care anyway." One of the main attractions to the past for Sheldon was the ability to explore its culture and mores. The mansion in the game was researched using architecture books as references, and 30s Art Deco in general. Christie described the mansion in the novel as stark and modern, and this made Sheldon turn to the work of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and in particular his house "Fallingwater".
And Then There Were None was shipped to North American stores on October 27, 2005. The game received an ESRB rating of Teen The Adventure Company announced on March 19, 2007, that And Then There Were None would be ported to the Wii console. This version of the game features an ability to spin the Wii Remote to turn safe handles, and the ability to unearth clues by imitating a digging action.
And Then There Were None has received widely varying reviews since its release. Metacritic's weighted average score for the game was 68% on the PC and 50% on the Wii, indicating "mixed or average reviews", and showed individual reviews falling between 20% and 90%, representing a wide range of opinions. One aspect of And Then There Were None which has garnered some criticism is the game's graphics. 2404 denounced the game's environments, commenting that "there are graphically better games that were made two years ago." An aspect of the game's graphics which was more heavily criticised was the character models. GameSpy decried the character models, saying: "The 3D models used for Mr. Owen's guests are crude and simplistic, with silly, sausage-like fingers, hair that looks like blocks of wood, lousy animation, poor lip-synching, and bland faces with barely any facial expression."
Adventure Gamers also found many faults with the character designs, describing them as ugly, and no more attractive or realistic than the characters from Sierra'sGabriel Knight 3, released six years previously. However, not all reviewers were as disappointed by the character models. Just Adventure commented that the characters are nicely designed, with detailed facial expressions during close-ups, but could have been better by current standards. Opinions on the character voice acting were generally positive. The voice acting was praised by Adventure Gamers for injecting life into the wooden character models, and ICGames commented that the voice acting was well done and made the characters convincing. However, GameSpy denounced the game for not allowing faster readers to skip through dialogue, instead forcing them to sit through hours of spoken words they have already absorbed through text. Sound in And Then There Were None received mixed reactions, with Game Chronicles calling the sound decent, and also commenting on the realistic weather and animal sounds heard throughout the game. 2404, in contrast, said that the game's music is pleasant and unannoying, but never captures the emotions and tensions in the game.
The puzzle aspects of And Then There Were None have received varying reactions. GameOver called the few puzzles in the game bad, complaining that often the solutions were obscure and illogical. GameOver complained that many puzzles did not advance the plot, and led to nothing. GameSpot criticized the puzzles in And Then There Were None, saying that the player is "regularly tasked with backtracking back and forth across the island with only a vague notion of what to do in order to progress the story." 2404 was more encouraging, saying that although the game was formulaic, there was a welcome lack of mazes and slider puzzles in the game, making it more accessible to a wider audience.