France's 1987 Game of the Year and biggest seller apparently shifted twice as many units as its nearest rival, and now hopes to pick up a few accolades here too. If you've ever played and enjoyed Borrowed Time, Deja Vu, Witness, Suspect or ay other whodunnit, then Mortville's for you.
You play the part of Jerome Lange, a Bogard clone private eye who's received an invitation from an old friend to join her at Chateau Mortville to help with a desperate situation. With a name like Mortville you might suppose something is seriously wrong and, yes, you're right. Your old friend Julia has already departed. To Deadsville.
Arriving in a storm, you are met by the butler who gives you a run down on the place and its inhabitants before showing you to your bedroom. From there on it's entirely up to you. You may wander around the various rooms and the grounds outside, the idea being to search for evidence and find a variety of objects which may lead you to the murderer in your midst. There are eight characters on whom to pin Julia's murder: you may question these suspects directly about the background to the case and, as you progress and locate evidence, grill them about their alibis.
Discretion will make your task a lot easier. It's best to amass evidence secretly before confronting your presumed killer as, of course, everyone's guilty until proved innocent and it's quite easy to have a knife plunged in your back when all you're doing is exploring the attic.
So, who did dunnit? Like any good thriller,it's got to be the one person it couldn't possibly be..
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Each location and object is depicted by simple but effective graphics, nothing an 8-bit micro couldn't put on screen. What makes Mortville really unique is that the characters really do speak to you, complete with animated faces as they deliver their message. Nothing new about speech in a game, you say, but eight characters talking clearly in thick French accents?? Genius! There's a staggering amount of speech crammed onto the disk, far too much for it to be digitised - the game is evidently using the Amiga's speech synthesizer chip directly, so how it'll work on the ST is anyone's guess..
Add to this a wealth of high quality effects to supplement ambience - short musical inserts, doors swinging smoothly open, footsteps, chiming clocks - and you're talking Atmosphere; the big essential of any adventure.
Mortville is a mouse driven adventure using a unique method of conversing with other characters. Discussions are selected by clicking on the name of the person you wish to talk to, and a screen then appears showing a range of discussion topics appropriate to what you've discovered at that point. You click on one to hear the reply, and you really do hear it, in an outrageous French accent!
Actions are determined from pul-down menus. Either a verb is understood and responded to immediately - you click on 'open' and a door does likewise, or the verb requires further qualification - you must move a cursor over the object to which you wish to apply your action and click to enact.
It'd be a sound decision to add Mortville to your adventure collection. Although the plot is a little cliched, the method of interaction and sense of involvement are compelling enough to make up for this. And then again, it's just great just to listen to all those crazy French accents. Just hope you end up as Poirot and not Clouseau.