Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders review for Xbox One, PS4, PC

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Artefacts Studio
Developer: Microids
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

There’s something decidedly anachronistic about playing an Agatha Christie game in 2016. The first Hercule Poirot book came out nearly a century ago, and even though Christie continued writing into the 1970s, the Poirot books always seemed like a relic from that interwar period, full of men with stiff upper lips, upstairs/downstairs dramas, veterans of the Great War, and slightly funny foreigners (the main character included). Whereas Sherlock Holmes has been given all kinds of makeovers and updates, Poirot as a character has remained resolutely stuck in the past.

That’s not to say I didn’t wholly enjoy Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders. I loved it. Partly, of course, this love was born out of a sense of nostalgia. I loved the Poirot books way back when I was in high school, so coming across the character again was kind of like running into an old friend I hadn’t seen in decades.

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The bigger reason I enjoyed The ABC Murders, though, was that it’s just a very solid murder mystery. You search for clues, you question and observe witnesses, and you use what you’ve learned to make deductions and, eventually, solve the case. For anyone who ever read the Poirot books and wanted to act like a detective and use a few of their own “little grey cells”, it’s all here.

What’s more, it’s all conveyed in a way that seems entirely faithful to the spirit of the books. The characters move at a leisurely, unhurried pace (which, truth be told, can get a little annoying when you’re trying to get Poirot to walk from Point A to Point B). When they’re informed that a murder is about to take place just a few hours outside of London, rather than hopping in a car and driving there to stop it, they consult a train timetable, discover that the next train doesn’t leave until late that night, and then get there the next day, after the crime has been committed. Even the game’s style seems rooted in the past, with colors and designs that seem appropriately muted (yet still pleasing to the eye, as far as I’m concerned).

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I imagine that there may not be a huge market for a game like The ABC Murders today. After all, Christie’s standing as the second-highest-selling individual novelist ever doesn’t mean she has much relevance today, and I doubt that some kind of Poirot revival is waiting for us just around the corner. But that doesn’t mean this game isn’t worthwhile — particularly if you’re the sort of person who likes those old-fashioned mystery novels. If you’ve wondered what the video game equivalent of curling up with a cup of tea and a good book would be…well, here it is.

Grade: A