Several years ago, theatrical producer Fredric Sheppard bought a house on an oceanside cliff and now, his body is lying on the rock below. Chief Inspector Duffy has dropped you off at the Sheppard house and told you to interrogate the people in the house, search for clues, and hopefully have the case solved by the morning. You’ve got plenty of suspects, a handful of clues, and only a limited time to get the job done. Get to work!
An Act Of Murder is a throw-back to the classic Infocom murder mysteries like Deadline and Suspect. What makes this game interesting is the high amount of randomization. Though the suspects and their backstories remain the same, the identity of the murderer and some of the key clues changes every time you start a new game. Because there’s five separate suspects, that means that An Act of Murder is actually five games in one. Of course, even if you tell Duffy to arrest the right suspect, you still have to have found all of the clues that prove their guilt. If you don’t have all the clues, even arresting the right person could still lead to the case getting tossed out of court and you getting thoroughly humiliated.
In the tradition of the old Infocom games, each room is vividly described and each character is capable of variety of reactions depending on what you ask them and when you ask it. The game also has a very helpful hint section and a valuable and automatic notebook, which records every clue that you come across and every statement that you get.
(After you’ve played the game and successfully solved the murder a few times, be sure to type XYZZY!)