This third person adventure game (a.k.a. The Abbey in European version) is a decent and affordable medieval experience full of simple, linear action with cartoon-style animation. The box art reflects the title well; then, players see the E10+ rating, mainly due to the visual style reflecting classic character style with dark, authentic settings at The Abbey, Nuestra Senora de la Natividad. Upon their arrival, Brother Leonardo of Toledo, a former royal adviser of the Spanish court and his smaller apprentice Bruno get more than they bargained for and the mystery begins.
Game play features several dialogue choices similar to choose your own adventure and free-roaming discoveries of items, locations and characters. Eventually, players might choose all dialogue response options – the order is the only real variable. In most instances, this choice won’t matter much, other than the fact that you find the key information sooner or later. Lots of dialogue, but the voice talent is quite good, so this element only enhances the game.
The game has a short learning curve for four deep chapters of puzzles, adventure, problem solving, simple busy work, and some mild peril. A wide range of social experiences produce some decent results as players interact with several different characters. The voice talent enhances the game well, except for maybe Godfried’s tone.
It is the standard give-and-take format in most scenarios as players meet other characters’ needs (wants, food, etc.). Players progress by picking up religious relics and other items throughout the game. Access to the library, cemetery, hospital, stables, and wine cellar provide a wide cache of interesting items, but getting there can be challenging and occasionally frustrating.
Players use the right mouse for interaction (bypasses dialogue scenes, as well) and the left for information, movement and taking a closer look at an item. For a better view of surroundings, hit the M button (not inside a building), then expedite travels by double clicking on the desired area. Brother Leonardo’s diary in the top right corner provides guidance, as do the optional subtitles. The puzzles are relatively easy and are based on inventory items. Players can save at any time and have a large cache of save slots.
Strong visuals, an engaging story, authentic settings and an even stronger soundtrack featuring orchestral score from the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra bode very well for this $19.99 game. Overall, this linear experience lands in the middle of the road, but has plenty of potential for expanded play, bonuses and nostalgic value due to the classic visual design.
Murder in the Abbey is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Alcohol Reference and Violent References.