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Wallsoft/The Guild
Jim Bentley
1987
Adventure: Text
£2.75
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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69
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

I think this is the first PAWd game to reach my desk, so let's take a look at what can be achieved with Gilsoft's exciting new utility (reviewed in ADVENTURE TRAIL, CRASH Issue 40).

In Homicide Hotel you play John Stafford, private investigator. You're contacted by your old acquaintance Inspector Dwyer - there's a murder case at Knightford which has old Dwyer just a little stumped. Barely pausing to slurp the last of your tepid tea you hot-foot it up to the scene of the crime.

The pathologist, his work at the Majestic Hotel already completed, tells you it was strychnine poisoning, which probably occurred between 8pm and 9pm the previous evening. The body belongs to one Mr Andrews, a film star, and the chief suspect is his new bride, Miss Carmel Emeldra, who was set to inherit the dead man's millions.

The residents of the hotel on the night of the crime were a motley crew, and you must check out all their stories. Lady Mary Strachan is a widow from Ayrshire, Mr Bennet (at the hotel with his wife) is a merchant banker in the City. Dr Spencer is a local doctor, divorced a few years ago; Miss Ford is an elderly spinster; Gerald Muir is a young man in his early twenties, out for a good time with his father's money and perhaps linked romantically with the dead man's wife.

Much of homicide Hotel is what you'd expect from a PAWd game. There's room for adjectives (take GREEN coat), prepositions (put sandals IN box), adverbs (SLOWLY read note), conjunctions (AND and THEN) and pronouns (examine sheets and drop THEM), which can lead to this kind of complex instruction: LOOK INTO THE LARGE GREEN BAG AND GET EVERYTHING OUT OF IT. CAREFULLY EXAMINE IT, DROP IT THEN GO NORTH. Most words can be abbreviated to five letters, but TAKE may be reduced to T and EXAMINE to EX.

Other PAW sophistications include the likes of WEAR ALL EXCEPT THE HAT, DROP ALL EXCEPT THE WALLET etc, and different weight values in your inventory, making some items easier to carry than others.

In keeping with its detective theme, the game lets time encroach upon your deliberations. If you have access to a clock the current time will be displayed; WAIT lets about four minutes elapse (there are about 12 real seconds to one minute of game time), and PAUSE gets you around the whole thing nicely if you require a long time to work out your strategy.

Game time is finite, though - the police may not be as bright as you, but they'll get around to arresting the guilty one after hours of painstaking research. And if they beat you to it you lose!

But by far the most important aspect of a detective game is the meaningful character interaction. Of the ten or so characters wandering about this hotel busily gelling on with their own lives, one is the murderer, and it's the TELL ME ABOUT... command which will open up the most avenues.

Characters will tell you about their alibis, about their fellow residents (expect mostly bad things!), and about suspicious happenings around the time of the murder.

If things are going well, and the slower mechanisms of the police machine haven't caught up with you, you can proceed to Dwyer, tell him the guilty one's name and give him the evidence to back up your conclusion. Pure Cluedo!

Homicide Hotel is typical of what can be produced with a fine utility - there's a competence about it which immediately brings the game up to professional standards.

Wallsoft is at 10 Wheatlands Park, Redcar, Cleveland TS10 2PD- but let's hope this home software is picked up by some bigger company and sent into the shops.

DIFFICULTY: easy to play, but completing it is another matter
GRAPHICS: quite good
PRESENTATION: I'm not keen on the big Hs on either side of the picture...
INPUT FACILITY: PAW
RESPONSE: PAW (fast)

CRITICISM

General Rating: A good PAW game.

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Screenshot Text

The PAW is always with us in Wallsoft's homegrown Homicide Hotel, another murder game with a motley crew of suspects.