Hercule Poirot: The First Cases captured my attention simply for nostalgia's sake at first but quickly drew me into the game. While it will not make my game of the year list, it certainly was an enjoyable way to spend 9 hours.
Title: Hercule Poirot: The First Cases
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Suggested Audience Age: Everyone 10+
Number of Players: 1
Time to Play: 9 hours
Availability: Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, Steam, GOG, and more
Recommended for fans of: Visual Novels, Mysteries, Agatha Christie, and (of course) Hercule Poirot
What's The Story
Hercule Poirot: The First Cases takes us on a journey of two intertwined murder mysteries. Staying true to Agatha Christie's first imagining of Poirot, it is set in an interactive visual-novel style from the viewpoint of Poirot himself.
You begin as a young officer Poirot who was first on the scene at an apparent robbery. Piecing the clues together you find what happened to the expensive jewelry and who is at fault, and gather the family together to announce the findings to the room.
The second mystery is much later in Poirot's career. Now, a successful detective, you are asked by the same family of the first mystery to come back and solve a blackmail case. However, once there, the blackmail case turns into a case of murder.
Class struggles, love affairs, intrigue, and deception all fulfill their familiar tropes in this game. Which is just as it should be.
What the Gameplay Feels Like
The game is set in a fixed-perspective 3D style as you control Poirot himself. You can walk around and interact with objects to hear what Poirot thinks of them (including every single plant for some odd reason…this really has no purpose I can tell). Talk to people, gather clues, and then piece together the mystery.
As you gain clues, you enter a separate screen that indicates Poirot's brain. Here you connect the dots to receive inspiration on who is innocent, guilty, or where to go next. I'll talk more about that later.
Overall, it feels much like moving through an episode of the Poirot tv series where you are mostly walking around talking to people and figuring out what happened.
What I liked
I pretty much grew up watching the Hercule Poirot television series with my mom. So, this game was one I wanted more for nostalgia than anything. However, as I played I found myself drawn into the mystery and wanting to solve the cases. It is definitely a visual-novel style game, and it works perfectly for this. Just as when I am reading a murder mystery book, my brain is putting together clues and following the trail that the author lays out for us.
What I didn't like
While interesting in concept, I did not like how you delve into Poirot's mind to form connections between clues. Creating these various spider webs seemed a bit tedious and you could not move the story forward until you linked what the game wanted you to link. Clever in concept, but just not something that worked well for my brain.