(none) Quintin Stone - Interactive Fiction Review
Interactive Fiction
Role-playing Games

Murder at the Aero Club

Author: Penny Wyatt
Language: z-code
Score: 6

My first thought, upon reading the intro, was that murder mysteries are notoriously difficult to pull off. The author has to pay very close attention to detail or else the illusion is shattered. In the case of this game, there are some nice ideas, but the overall effect does not entirely succeed.

Though tone of the intro is slightly more informal and chummy than I prefer, the rest of the game is written in a rather standard voice. The story, on the other hand, may be one of the biggest problems. Maybe my perspective is skewed culturally, but is it really normal for a police officer in Australia to journey deep into the outback -- alone and 8 hours from the nearest town -- to investigate a homicide with absolutely no information, including who the victim is, who found the body, or who even reported the crime to begin with? Sorry, this seems rather far-fetched. And then once I arrive, I come across an NPC who "seems so busy, it'd be a shame to bother him." Are homicide detectives in Australia really that polite? None of the NPCs seem to care at all that there's a dead body lying on the lawn in front of their club. Even after you discover that none of the would mourn his death, their lack of interest still feels out of place.

The game introduces a notebook in which clues are automatically recorded as you come across them. I actually have an almost identical object planned for one of my works-in-progress. Does it work? The truth is, I never even looked at it. The clues are so basic and linear that after collecting most of them, the inevitable conclusion was quite clear.

IF mysteries are hard to do well. This one started out well, with a good amount of information being revealed inside the office. However, the first NPC interactions (Haagen and Cecil) felt like a slap in the face. This is a murder investigation, but I don't want to interrupt some guy doing paperwork in a lounge? Most minor room decorations weren't implemented, and yet I got stuck because I didn't examine and search one that was (the bushes).

Final score: 6

High point:
The office search revealed so much potentially useful info: the sim card, the poster that revealed that light aircraft fuel is pale blue, Brad's role as fire safety officer.

Low point:
The only evidence I had pointed to Cecil (the only failing logbook entry matched his plane and he refused to bribe). And yet I couldn't accuse or even talk to him about it. At this point I was also stuck without an idea as to what to do next. (I resorted to the walkthrough and discovered a scenery object I'd failed to search.)
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