In Activision's Santa Fe Mysteries: The Elk Moon Murder (TEMM), you assume the role of a Santa Fe investigator attempting to solve the baffling murder of Anna Elk Moon, a local potter. Unfortunately, the only mystery in this interactive movie is why the developers made it so simple to solve.
TEMM is a typical visit a witness and watch a video clip adventure. Even though it's labeled an interactive movie, the interface does little more than lead you, like a seeing eye dog, to the next bit of evidence. Yes, you can choose which suspect to visit and what questions to ask, but sometimes you are prompted to go to a particular location only to watch a large part of the conundrum unravel.
You have five game days (approximately five hours of real time) to solve the murder before the Feds step in and unravel the case for you. By the end of day one, I had a good suspicion about who the murderer was; by the end of day three, all of the evidence pointed to the same person. I thought, Certainly this is a ruseit has to be harder than this. Guess what ... it wasn't. Even worse, after playing the game through again, I realized that you can only issue an arrest warrant for the true murderer, meaning that after checking everyone's alibi and gathering the clues, you could solve TEMM simply through trial and error.
Lack of intrigue and true mystery aside, TEMM is full of eye candy. The colorful, photographic quality stills truly show the beauty of Santa Fe's desert setting. And although the video clips are slightly grainy, I suffered no glitches or slowdown while watching them. Even the acting, an element overlooked in many interactive adventures, is pretty darn good, and it's obvious that Activision spent some money on actors and didn't just use the office staff. Sadly, the music in Elk Moon could use an overhaul. The same quickfire, whiny guitar lick constantly drones on and on, and quickly becomes unbearable. The audio in the video portion of TEMM is also much quieter than it is in the other parts of the game, which leads to constant adjustment of the volume knob on your speakers and short term tinnitus if you forget to turn the volume down after the video clips.
TEMM is an interactive murder mystery that could use a lot more mystery. Go buy a five-dollar paperback detective novel ... it'll probably take you longer to read the book than to solve this game.