Released in 1997 during the final stages of the golden age of point-and-click adventures, the game was eventually a commercial failure and out of print nearly a year later. It was extremely expensive to make at the time, and a lot of effort was made to make it as historically authentic and convincing as possible. They even found an old abandoned Orient Express stowed away for 50+ years on a rail yard somewhere in Athens giving them first hand sources to make the legendary train come to life.
The game itself in a nutshell is a murder mystery. You have received a telegram from your friend Tyler Whitney to meet him on the train to take a journey from Paris to Jerusalem, as he has found something that might interest him there. Unfortunately the protagonist misses the train thanks to unforeseen circumstances with the law, and the only thing Tyler is greeted with is patrolling police on the lookout. Still that doesn’t stop the protagonist from boarding the train thanks to a friend and her motorcycle. On board you are free to explore the train, but your first task is to reunite with your friend whom should be waiting in his compartment. As you open the door you are met his mutilated and clawed up body. Determined to find out what happened you hide his body, take his identity ready to seek out and find the killer of your friend.
What makes this game so unique and not like anything you have ever previously played is how the whole game is played in real time. The clock is always ticking on the Orient Express and you have both passengers and crew going about their own things no matter if you’re there to catch them in the act or not. By making it this way you never feel like the game is tailor made for you. Just sitting in the smoking car eavesdropping as the passengers babble on might give you important information or clues to your case or impertinent discussions about anything 1914 related topics or just ordinary daily life stuff - which is still very interesting mind you thanks to some of the most realistic and deepest characters I’ve ever seen in a video game. Never have I played a game with this level of historical authenticity, you are immediately immersed in this game and convinced that you are a passenger on the Orient Express on the eve of World War 1.
Being in real time you will obviously miss tons clues, discussions, dialogue and events the first times playing it. Every time I come back to this game I always find new and undiscovered information. You are of course still able to rewind or fast forward the game at your leisure if you feel like experimenting with different routes. The game features a bunch of endings and only the most determined will make it all the way to Constantinople and find out the truth about the fate of his friend.
I highly recommend this game for any fans of point-and-click adventures who wants to try something different. It contains a compelling story, excellent characters and great voice acting who all speaks in their natural language; may it be Russian, English, German, Serbian, Arabian or French. The graphics are cartoony, but very stylish – I think it fits great for this game. All the characters are based off real actors who were mo-capped into the game so it still contains a very realistic look despite having cartoony colours.