I had thought that this amazing computer game, The Last Express, was extinct, since the company sadly went into administration in the late nineties, but I’ve just found a downloadable version here.
I first fell in love with this game when I was a student at university. Indeed, I believe I completed it in a week in which I barely left the house, existing on only Bombay mix bought from the local newsagent and cherry coke (healthy, I know). If you’re a murder-mystery fan then you really don’t want to miss out on this.
The game is set in 1914 aboard the glamorous Orient Express. The player takes on the role of Dr Robert Cath, an American, on the train’s final journey from Paris to Constantinople just before the outbreak of the First World War. Cath, already wanted by the French police as he is suspected of the murder of an Irish police officer, is contacted urgently by his old friend Tyler Whitney, to join him on the Orient Express, gateway to the East, and a possible exit from all his troubles. Cath boards the train via a motorcycle and looks for Whitney, who is already on board. However, from the moment he steps onto the train, Cath becomes involved in a maelstrom of treachery, lies, political conspiracies, romance and, of course, murder.
Don’t be put off by the naive graphics, the whole thing has a wonderfully art nouveau feel and there is amazing attention to detail. If, like me, you’re an Agatha Christie fan and have read Murder on the Orient Express, you’ll enjoy just wandering the beautiful corridors and compartments. (There is something magical, I find, about the world that exists inside a well-designed computer game; I find it irresistable and it fills me with a peculiar yearning sensation.)
However, the thing that’s really captivating about this game is that it’s in real time. The game’s characters, of which there are there are thirty, all have their own artificial intelligence and agendas, and move around the game to accomplish their goals, changing their plans due to player intervention. So, unlike linear games, no two play-throughs are exactly alike – awesome! And ladies, watch out: for an animation, Dr Robert Cath is alarmingly attractive. (NB you will notice that in in all of these gameplay stills, he looks, at worst, mildly irked at being held a gunpoint.)
Still not convinced by this retro gem? Check out the game trailer here.