The time is Halloween, circa 1984. You are a newspaper reporter who has been invited to the annual Halloween costume party that is being thrown by your old friend, Veronica Ashcroft-Wellman. You show up, eager to find a story. You are dressed as a cowboy, complete with a lariat and a gun belt. Shortly after you arrive, Veronica goes to her office. Not long afterwards, Veronica is discovered dead. Around her neck is your lariat. Lying near her body is a bullet from your gun belt. You’re not only a suspect. In the eyes of the police, you’re the only suspect!
Infocom’s third and final murder mystery followed Deadline and The Witness. Just like those two games, you have a limited amount of time to explore your surroundings, find clues, and talk to the other people at the party. Run out of time and you’ll once again be approached by the trusted Sgt. Duffy. This time, though, Duffy is coming to take you to jail. The stakes have never been higher and the mystery has never been more complex. Not only is the house bigger than the houses in Deadline and The Witness but there’s also many more suspects, all of whom are in costume and all of whom move around at their own free will. Clues are not difficult to find but it can be a struggle to not only figure out how they link together but to also the convince the investigative detective that they are important. This is not an easy game to win. I played it several times and failed to solve the mystery every time. Finally, I did what anyone would have done in my situation.
I found a walk-through for the game and, following it step-by-step, I solved the murder and cleared my name. If I hadn’t used that walk-through, I probably never would have solved the case. This is not a game for casual text adventurers. This is for people who want to totally immerse themselves in a world and then spend hours working out a plan of attack.
It’s also an elegantly written game, with its fair share of Easter eggs for experienced gamers. Just count the number of guests who have come to the party costumed like characters from other Inform games. This game is tough but rewarding, even if you do end up having to cheat to win.