20 years after it was first released, 1-2-3…. is a game that is still infamous among members of the Interactive Fiction Community for its awkward use of NPCs. At certain points in the game, you are a serial killer and, at other points of the game, you’re the detective who has been assigned to investigate the killer’s crimes. If you’re the detective, you’re going to have to gather clues and interact with the coroner and Sgt. Fitzgerald.
Ask the wrong question and their response will be something along the lines of “Wouldn’t you rather ask me about the victim?”
After you ask all the right questions, the NPC will abruptly stop talking or responding to you. In other words, this is not like an old Infocom game where you can have something close to resembling a conversation with the people you meet. Instead, each character has a few pieces of information to share and, once they’ve shared, that’s it. Most Interactive Fiction games are designed to allow you to feel as if you are the one controlling the flow of the story. 1-2-3… leaves you on the outside looking in as the game moves forward to it inevitable conclusion.
Despite it’s unfortunate reputation and the terrible social interactions, the descriptive passages in 1-2-3… are often well-written The details are often vivid and I laughed whenever I tried to go in the wrong direction and the game blamed my confusion on a hangover. Due to the graphic descriptions of the killer’s crimes, this is not a game for everyone but, at the same time, it’s not as bad as you may have heard.