Review by Psycho Penguin

"Ever wanted to be Sherlock Holmes? Yeah, me neither."

Growing up, I didn't have a chance to play too many computer games. I had an old Tandy, but it was used primarily for school projects and the like. One day, my father brought home a bunch of floppy disks, and I was wondering what they were. It turns out that they were a bunch of games, so I quickly checked them out, and this game called ''Sleuth'' caught my eye. I quickly popped it into the hard drive, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sleuth is my favorite PC game of all time, barely edging out the classic and also uber-addicting Sim City 2000 for that prestigious honor. The object of the game is fairly simple: you are to investigate the murder of a person in a house, by asking people questions, examining items, and checking alibis. You basically get to play a detective in this game, and not only that, the game manages to be quite addicting and unique, but has that special atmosphere of danger and mystery that few games could pull off, especially one of its age.

Sleuth is a full-out text adventure, as you use commands like ALIBI and EXAMINE to check things out during the game. The only movement you will get to make is moving your little detective around the house. Other then that, your friendly list of commands will do all the stuff for you. It takes a little bit of time to get used to all the various commands, but fortunately, Sleuth comes with a help list, which teaches you all the commands, and can be accessed by simply typing HELP.

The game takes place from an overhead perspective, so you can always see where your character is, and where he has to go next. I hate these ''1st person'' view games, so I'm glad Sleuth went with this view instead, as it makes things much easier. The house you are investigating is dual-story, and has lots of items to search, people to talk to, and rooms to find. There's even hidden rooms, which take a while to find sometimes.

Once you start the game, the fun begins. You start off in a house, where someone is murdered. You now have three objectives: to find a murder weapon, to find the room where the murder was committed, and to find the murderer themselves. Once you do all these things, you have practically completed the game. Beware, though, as you only have a certain amount of time to do this, and the murderer will become more and more suspicious of your activities as time goes on. It proves to be quite addictive, and one that is especially enjoyed at night.

That's because this game has a sense of darkness, mystery, and intrigue only rivaled by the Silent Hill series and other survival horror classics. I don't know what it is about this game, but as the investigation heats up, you can literally feel the murderer coming onto you. The fact the murder weapon shows up in red text certainly helps the intensity and feeling behind this game, and I cannot believe how scary this game was for me. The makers of this game did an excellent job creating a scary atmosphere on a limited technical computer.

It's especially fun to play this game multiplayer. I remember long nights of staying up with my brother, sister, uncle, dad, anyone who wanted to play, as we'd try our best to solve murder mysteries. It's cool how you can personalize this game, so you can get things like, ''Steve McFadden murdered Michael Jordan in the dining room with the crowbar.'' It's the little things that make me happy, sometimes, and Sleuth certainly delivers. It manages to be one of the most fun multiplayer games out there, as well. Sure, only one person can control the game, but the whole family can go on the mystery together.

The game really has simple graphics, and the lack of music is a bit of a problem. The house itself is designed pretty decently, you get a black floor, and then a house layout which changes every game. Everything is easily identifiable, and you can see the characters by looking for little smily faces walking around the house. The graphics are simple, but end up proving to be very effective. The lack of in-game music is a bit of a problem, but you do hear some creepy music when the murderer finally catches you (or you finally catch them), so there's definitely a good payoff there.

The game's only as challenging as you want it to be. If you're good at solving mysteries, this game won't be much of a problem to you. The majority of it is just trying to find clues to lead you to a room. Finding the murderer is usually pretty easy, but the murder room seems to give people the most amount of difficulty. I don't know why that is, as I never had much of a problem with that. Anyways, the game can be challenging, depending on how good you are at solving things, and how long you've been playing the game for. It definitely takes some time to get used to.

Sleuth is one of the most addictive games of all time, as you will spend literally hours at a time hooked on this classic. There's nothing quite like solving a mystery, and Sleuth manages to make it both fun and educational. Plus, I still say this game was the first ever survival horror game of all time, as it's still terrifying to me sometimes, especially at night. The atmosphere of the game, the intense investigation, it all got to me. That's what makes this game so fun to replay over and over: solving a new mystery, as the house, murderer, weapon, and room change every time out.

There you have it, folks. I know none of you have ever heard of this game, or played it, but I honestly advise you check it out as soon as you can. I already told my girlfriend about it, and she loved it. It really is that good, and is one of the best mystery games of all time. I remembered this game as a classic growing up, and as I play it again, I'm remembering exactly why. This is a classic, no doubt about it, and I strongly urge that anyone with DOS check this amazing game out, as it will be well worth it.

So, get ready all you wannabe detectives, Sleuth is here, and you've been warned. You have no excuse not to play it now.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 09/22/03

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