Review – Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot: The First Cases
Agatha Christie has provided the world with some of the best mystery novels ever written. There have been countless films, TV shows, and even video games based off her works. In theory, her material should be the basis for some of the best detective thriller games on the market, but sadly, they’ve been mostly mediocre thus far, such as Microids’ last Hercule Poirot centric game, Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders. Can Microids’ latest game, Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases, be the title to finally steal the spotlight? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding “no”.
Unlike Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders, this game isn’t based off any of Agatha Christie’s works. Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases is a brand new tale that looks at Hercule Poirot’s early career, before he became the legendary detective we all know and love. While I do appreciate having an new story to work through, it’s not really the most original. Poirot is invited to the wealthy Van den Bosche estate in celebration of the engagement of the daughter, Cassandra. He will soon discover that the family is entangled in lies, deceit, blackmail, and even murder. It’s up to Poirot to get to the bottom of the sinister goings-on at the Van den Bosche estate.
Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases has a lot of problems. The first being how linear it is. This is basically a point-and-click game in the simplest form. You’ll move Poirot around the mansion, click on every item that you are able to interact with, and speak to everyone to learn more information. That’s really about it.
After gaining as much information from people and items available, you’ll be able to visit the Mind Map to start piecing things together. The Mind Map is undoubtedly the worst aspect of the game. There’s very little rhyme or reason to what should be linked together. Certain things that seem like obvious choices to be connected won’t be, while other completely random observations will end up being connected instead.
There isn’t even a hint system like the one found in Blazing Griffin’s last video game, Murder Mystery Machine. This means that at times you’ll have to figure out the correct connections between twenty to thirty nodes, many of which make no logical sense being connected. You’ll find yourself tediously trying to link every possible combination of nodes together in the vain hope you’ll stumble upon the correct answer. It’s infuriating, mind numbingly boring, and brings the overall pace of Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases to a screeching halt.
The next issue is that there is no challenge at all. Unless you count blindly trying to make the correct connections, that is. Joking aside, Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases is completely devoid of any semblance of challenge or any chance of failure. You can’t progress through the story until you have had all the necessary conversations and inspected everything around you. This allows you to make all the needed connections in order to reach the next stage of the case. You can’t make any wrong deductions either. So you really just walk around clicking on everything and then fight your Mind Map for a while until everything clicks into place.
Occasionally, you’ll have to interrogate someone who has their guard up. The only way to obtain the information they possess it get them to lower their guard. At the start, Poirot will reiterate what he knows about this person and their personality, and then will recommend the best approach to take with them. If they’re protective, ask questions in a gentle way. If they’re self-indulgent, trying complimenting them. It’s very easy to know which manner of speaking will work the best for each character. Besides, if you do somehow mess up an interrogation, the game will simply restart right at the beginning of the interaction. So like I said, there’s no way to fail. There’s also no way to have any fun when Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases doesn’t have any stakes.
It’s not all terrible though. Visually, it’s very beautiful. Every room of the mansion has its own distinct look and layout, so every room feels different. More areas of the house will open up as the story progresses as well, giving each chapter a some good variety. The character models are pretty nice, but they aren’t as striking as their hand-drawn counterparts that are used during dialogue exchanges. Their animations are also really stiff, when they move at all. I’m also surprised that the framerate plummets somewhat frequently whenever you’re moving Hercule Poirot around the mansion, as it doesn’t seem like a technically demanding game.
The sound design is where Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases shines brightest. All of the vocal performances are strong and convincing. Some are a slightly cheesy, but it’s appropriate for this kind of a game. The musical score is subtle, yet helps to create an air of moodiness and tension. I was highly impressed by the sound effects. Poirot’s footsteps sound completely different when walking on wooden floors, across carpeting, or trudging through snow. The sound design really helped to sell a lot of what was taking place in the house, especially since the animations were often times lacking any of the spirited movements you’d expect from people in this situation.
Honestly, I was really disappointed by Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases, especially since I’d been looking forward to it for so long. The story is something any fan of mysteries has seen a hundred times by now. All of the twists you can see coming from a mile away. The deduction system is atrocious and offers nothing aside from an aggravating experience. On top of that, there’s absolutely no challenge, which makes playing it feel almost worthless, especially since you know how the story will end long before it actually does. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if you’re looking for a Hercule Poirot game, you should play Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders instead. At least that game has fun puzzles and an actual level of challenge.
The character models look good, but not as dynamic as their hand-drawn versions used in dialogue exchanges. Surprisingly, there are framerate issues when moving Hercule Poirot around the mansion.
This is mainly a point-and-click adventure, with some puzzle-like deductions to make about each case. The deduction system is atrocious, though.
The sound design is outstanding. The vocal performances are pretty strong throughout and the sound effects are fantastic.
Fun Factor: 2.0
Many of the answers to the cases you’re investigating are obvious early on, but you’ll still have to slog through the rest of the story beats and interrogations in order to get to their conclusions. The deduction system makes no sense and often forces you to have endure long periods of “trail by error” guesswork.
Final Verdict: 4.5
Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
Reviewed on PS4.
A copy of Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot – The First Cases was provided by the publisher.