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Cruise for a Corpse review
by Sebastian

Bought the game back in 1991 when it was released (or maybe a year later when it was cheaper). I had high hopes for this game as I liked the style a lot. But I got stuck pretty early on in the game and only managed to play through it a good twenty years later using a walkthrough I found on the internet.

In the game you are a detective investigating a murder on a sailing ship. The game progress is symbolized by a clock that starts at 8 AM and advances by ten minutes for every important clue that you find. You find clues either by talking to people on the boat (all of them are somehow related to each other; there's the murder victim's wife, their daughter, her fiancée and so on) or by exploring the boat. Whenever the time advances, things may change - a person that was previously on the top deck may not be there anymore but elsewhere (or nowhere at all; not all persons are always accessible at any given moment). Or, and that is something I found very frustrating, things magically appear, e.g. there is a drawer in a desk in a room which you can search. If you search it at the start of the game, you will be told that the drawer is empty. At some point however, a critical clue "appears" in this drawer which you need to find to advance progress. This drawer is what I actually got stuck on back when I bought the game as it never occurred to me to search this drawer again when I had been previously told that it was empty.

Unfortunately, this is not the only time where the story is not very logical. A couple of times story progress depends on you finding something in a spot you might have searched before and there is little or no clue what to do next. The storytelling leaves a lot to be desired, repeatedly. I wonder how many players were able to solve this game on their own. In the game finale, you find yourself opposite of the NPCs and have to point out the murderer. Everyone has a motive but of course just one is the murderer. Having played the game up to this moment and listened to everything everyone had to say, I could not correctly pick the murderer. And while, if you pick the correct person, he/she tells you the background story, I found it far-fetched to say the least.

I played it again recently just to savor the story once more. Just going through all the conversations is in my opinion worth the three or four hours it takes you to play through the game with a walkthrough. The whole concept of the game is enticing but suffers from some illogical turns.