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Cruise for a Corpse

aka: Croisiere pour un Cadavre
Moby ID: 2264
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

  1. When Inspector Raoul Dusentier is invited to a cruise upon a mighty sailing ship by the wealthy businessman Niklos Karaboudjan, he looks forward to nothing but a relaxing week on the sea. Instead, his host manages to get himself killed on the second day. Murdered, to be exact. Too convenient that a policeman is aboard -- Dusentier sets out to search for suspects. He doesn't need to search long. Why is it that none of the family members seem awfully sad about the demise of the old man? Is the mysterious Father Fabiani really as pious as he says? In the tradition of Agatha Christie, each and every person on board has a motive for the murder.

Cruise for a Corpse is a graphic adventure game with a point-and-click interface. You advance in the plot not so much by solving common object-based puzzles, but by talking to the right persons about the right subjects at the right time, thus collecting clues. You will also find pieces of evidence scattered throughout the ship. However, most items suddenly appear in cupboards and drawers that were previously empty. The clock advances in ten-minute-steps whenever you discover an interesting clue, which conveniently informs you of your progress. The protagonists move around the ship; so whenever time passes, different persons to talk to might appear at certain locations.

With this game, Delphine Software's Cinematique interface reached "Evolution 2". Instead of containing a fixed number of verbs, the command menu is now context-sensitive. The mouse cursor will change its appearance when moved over an interesting object; a left-click brings up a set of appropriate verbs. For example, a cupboard may be opened and searched, whereas a key can be picked up and turned. A right-click accesses the inventory. The game features polygonal characters.

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Credits (DOS version)

17 People (13 developers, 4 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 81% (based on 27 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 51 ratings with 4 reviews)

Wonderfully constructed adventure game with immaculate presentation

The Good
This game is great if you've ever wanted to be Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes, it has all the elements of a classic "who-dunnit?". The game features beautiful graphics and wonderful music (especially for its time). Great characters, great plot and a great atmosphere. The ending won't let you down either!

The Bad
The English seemed a bit dodgy at times, and can get a bit frustrating when you get stuck.

The Bottom Line
The most amazing thing about this game is that it takes 6-8 hours to complete WITH a walkthrough helping you! If you want a laid back game to tax you mentally then this is it. Just try not to get too frustrated when you get stuck!

Amiga · by Johnny "ThunderPeel2001" Walker (476) · 2003

Taxing, frustrating and repetitive but in a sort of good way

The Good
I have been wanting to play this game for a long time and I received a copy in a bundle of DOS abandonware games for Christmas 2019, I played in 2020 using the SCUMM emulator.

Things I liked about this game

  • The story. At its heart this is a fairly straightforward detective story with lots and lots of red herrings. Just about every character has a motive for the crime. In terms of plot there's nothing new here, I've read a lot detective mystery stories and it wasn't too hard to spot the bad guy/gal, but it is a very interesting journey.
  • The game mechanics. This game is set on a boat which means there are a limited number of locations to visit still, having a map that allows Raoul to teleport from one to another is very useful.
    The in-game clock which shows progress through the game is a useful feature too. There were times when I did not reaslise that I'd uncovered a significant piece of information and this was a useful reminder to pay attention.
    The save/load facility, which I started to use a lot late in the game, does not seem to have a limit to the number of slots which is always useful plus each save is accompanied by a thumbnail image which I find is a useful reminder when I restart the game after a break.
  • The dialogue. This is the heart of the game. You can have a good story but if the way the characters interact with each other is not well done the story is wasted. In this game there are few puzzles as such and the player makes as much progress by talking to people as they do by exploration. That means the dialogue has to be easy to use and well written and it succeeds on both counts
  • The design. Though it frustrated me and at times defeated me I liked that Raoul would comment on everything from a frayed rope on the deck, a wine cork left on the bar, the colour of someone's hat etc. A detective should be observant, no stone should be left unturned, no question left unasked.


  • The Bad
    Warning! This bit contains what some may consider minor spoilers. All of the points that caused me problems are covered by the general advice of trying every conversation option with every character repeatedly and searching every location thoroughly and repeatedly. This is a well made game that I enjoyed but there are a couple of points where I felt the game didn't play fair.

  • The inventory. As Raoul investigates he accumulates a number of clues and he can look at these at any time he likes. However there are two occasions in the game where, if he has the right item and is in the right location with the right character, one item in the inventory can be shown to that character thus advancing the plot. Now the first option to show an item to someone appears a decent way into the game at which time I had, I thought, become accustomed to the game mechanics and I only realised what I was missing with the use of a walkthrough
  • Gameplay. So, as a detective I wandered around this ship looking in everything, peering through portholes and generally being a busybody. So far this is standard investigative gameplay While I'm reasonably OK with clues turning up in places that I've already searched because as the story progresses it's reasonable that something that was passed over initially could become significant, it's the portholes that got me!
    In every instance where I tried to peer into a cabin Raoul failed to see anything, either there are reflections, it is too dirty, or he just doesn't like snooping. Eventually, as a player, I stopped looking only to find there is one instance where he will look through a porthole and observe something which is crucial to advancing the plot. That one instance where the my character does something that's out of character really jarred.
  • Dialogue. As previously stated you talk to the characters about everything over and over again but you must remember to keep on doing this throughout the game. There were a couple of instances where by asking a character the same question I'd already asked several times, and getting the same answer, I triggered an advance in the game's progress clock.
  • Death. It is possible to die in this game. I died at least four or five times, of which at least two were unexpected and the remainder were of the 'I wonder if I can do that now that I've solved this' experiments. It makes sense, you are trying to catch a murderer and should not expect them to sit back and wait to be unmasked but the first death was a surprise and, after a lengthy replay to restore lost progress, it taught me to save more often.
  • The ending. In true detective story fashion the game ends with Raoul gathering everyone in one place and summarising the case. The scene then shifts to all the assembled characters and I was expecting something along the lines of 'You, character A, wanted to kill the deceased because ...., character B you had equally strong motives because ..... but in fact it was character C who did the dirty deed.
    What happened was that the first character I clicked on was arrested even though I knew they were innocent and I just wanted to hear their story. Another short replay later and the bad guy/gal was taken away for a happy-ish ending


  • The Bottom Line
    This game is set on a boat, that means a limited number of locations and a limited number of characters. The designers have sort of turned this into a feature by making it a requirement that, whenever something new is revealed, the player must revisit every location and search it again meticulously as well as questioning every character about everything once more. This is taxing, challenging, frustrating and it's meant to be which means it is not going to be everyone's cup of tea.
    I was expecting a Lucas Arts style game and this is very different, I cannot recall a single sliding block puzzle, maze puzzle or a fiendish lock puzzle nor can I recall combining items in the inventory.

    It's hard. I struggled with this game, I got stuck and had to resort to using a walkthrough several times. I never like doing that but in all honesty I don't think I could have completed it without a guide of some sort. I started the game on a Wednesday and completed it on the Saturday taking I guess around twenty-five hours of pleasurably frustrating gaming.

    DOS · by piltdown_man (245890) · 2020

    Interwar mystery game, complete with its annoyances

    The Good
    Cruise for a Corpse (henceforth 'Cruise') is an obvious improvement over the earlier Delphine adventures such as Future Wars or Operation Stealth. It also owes much to Sierra's Laura Bow, following a classic AgathaChristesque mystery with a rich background story for you to uncover.

    The most spectacular element of the game are perhaps the graphics, starting with the introduction which features well-drawn backgrounds with extremely smooth and detailed animations. These impressions continue into the game. The sprite of inspector Raoul Dusentier is composed of polygons much like the sprites of Another World. This allows him to be scaled according to the distance from the 'camera' and to perform freely some of the actions. The backgrounds and character portraits are detailed enough, drawn in a comic-like fashion.

    Another thing which I would call an innovation, is the interface. There is no menu of commands in Cruise. You just select an object and a menu of relevant 'special' commands is shown. These vary from common ones such as 'Take' or 'Examine' to more complex ones like 'Look behind' or 'Make fall'. Each screen is full of objects recognized by the game, decorations, furniture or drawers to open and search, each one with its own set of commands. Although this seems overwhelming, most objects are red herrings and very few have something useful to show.

    The vast majority of Cruise has to do with discovering backstories and motivations. Although this can be boring, the process is intellectually promising: the game is founded on a complex and intriguing backstory, revealed gradually to you with each new element or dialogue you uncover. From time to time new characters, elements and motivations emerge, complicating further the story. The final outcome is more elaborate than anything you might have imagined and is totally rewarding.

    As you understand, Cruise belongs to an adventure genre which requires a lot of walking back and forth until you find new elements to advance the game. However unlike othe Laura Bow-like games, Cruise features a map which allows you to teleport to any place of the boat from the very beginning. It makes the whole exploring process much more bearable and it's a pity that such a helpful feature is absent from Cruise's 'siblings'.

    Also, I must note that the language has been improved since Operation Stealth (being a French production) and you don't have to see mistyped words or awkward quasi-English sentences everywhere. But still, some of the English seem dodgy now and then.

    The Bad
    For me, the biggest problem in Cruise is the very genre it belongs. Cruise represents the adventure sub-sub-genre of which the Laura Bow series is perhaps the most representative, which requires a lot of exploration and investigation from the player to 'trigger' new events. By discovering new clues, the game's clock advances and new elements are 'triggered': a character, object or event appears in a place you might already have visited. You purpose is to investigate and trigger those tags that will advance the story, and then re-investigate to discover the new elements that have appeared and so on.

    Drawbacks are inherent to its very philosophy, including a lot of time wasting. You are compulsed to obsessively explore and re-explore back and forth the same places: you will need hours to finish the game, even with a walkthrough. The map which allows you to teleport is generally helpful, but not in the cases when you move from room to room exploring.

    While discovering and uncovering new clues and opening new dialogues can be compared to reading an elaborate storybook and be intellectually fun, no real progress of events occur in the whole story, resulting in a dull gaming experience. There are no actual gaming challenges which require reflexes or problem-solving.

    In some cases you might be stuck because the 'trigger' tags are not obvious. you will find yourself in the frustrating position when the clock does not progress while you already have exhausted your dialogue options with all the available characters. In that case, you have to explore once more the whole boat more thoroughly, and this time you literally have to 'leave no stone unturned'. And this is not an easy task, since there are hundreds of items, drawers, lockers and closets to open and search. Even if you have searched a place before, new items can appear after a certain moment, so you must repeat your exploration. Since there are no clues about what might appear where and when, the whole exploration can be really overwhelming.

    The situation got worse if you couple it with the speed and loading time that existed back then. I really wonder how much patience, or obsession an average player must have to investigate a series of rooms for several times, while waiting for the diskettes' loading time.

    Add to this the overwhelming number of objects in each room. While at first Cruise appears to be a realistic, detailed world to explore, this is not the case: 99% of the objects are useless, the drawers are almost always empty, or Raoul will simply refuse to perform an action as unnecessary. Even his comments are uninteresting and state the obvious with no humor

    Another problem with the interface is that new options are not very obvious either. The dialogue replies are listed in random order, not alphabetically, and the new options don't show up at the bottom of the list as they should. Later in the game, when the dialogue lists have grown larger, the new options are not esy to notice, and it's difficult to keep track of which have been selected before and which haven't.

    As a final note I should mention that I believe the game cover to be unrelated to the game. It depicts a generic murder investigation scene on a boat. There is no elderly Poirot-like detective investigating the death of the steerman who has been stabbed on the wheel. And the characters seen on the background of the image do not appear in the game. While it is well illustrated and does not affect the game's quality, I though it was a generic, random choice.

    The Bottom Line
    Cruise for a Corpse is an elaborate mystery game featuring spectacular graphics and animations for its time. Although not entertaining in the traditional sense, it will unfold for you an interesting world to explore and uncover, complete with intrigues and complex relationships beween its characters.

    In short, Cruise is part of the short-lived 'explore, trigger, and re-explore' genre of mystery adventure games, to which Laura Bow, Orion Conspiracy and The Last Express belong. The better part of the game is spent exploring the same screens, searching for clues and moving between the characters to open new dialogue trees and uncover more clues. The absence of challenge, progress, action and plot twists can be obvious after some time. Eventually the game might be boring or even bothering to some players who might expect more traditional puzzles for a challenge.

    If you have no patience, have a walkthrough nearby. And no, I wouldn't consider this cheating!

    DOS · by Boston Low (85) · 2011

    [ View all 4 player reviews ]

    Trivia

    1001 Video Games

    Cruise for a Corpse appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

    Polygon

    Cruise for a Corpse is notable for a technical feature: Most animated objects in the game, from door to persons, are filled vectors rather than bitmaps. This allows for animations which are not only fluent, but consume only a fraction of the disk space that sprites would require. Also, the figures are scalable without loss of detail, although the rather crude vector models used in Cruise for a Corpse are not too spectacular in close-ups.

    The Delphine team demonstrated its mastery of the polygon technology impressively -- unfortunately not so much in the game itself than in the ending sequence. It consists of roughly a dozend second-long full-screen animations consisting entirely of vectors. This was an astounding display at the time.

    By 1992, Delphine had already successfully used the vector technology in two games (Cruise for a Corpse and Another World). However, it was another game that made it truly popular in that year: Alone in the Dark. Incidentally, this highly successful action-adventure was developed by Infogrames -- another French company.

    References

    There are a couple of references to Operation: Stealth, one of Delphine's earlier games: At one point you discover the name 'Ostrovitch' (Ostrovitch and Karpov were two Soviet agents from that game). Also, if you examine a waste basket in the toilet, the game will tell you that there is 'no razor' this time (referring to a certain puzzle in that game).

    At the epilogue of the game, one character is described 'rich as Donald Trump'. However since the game is set in 1927, it is an historical error: Trump would not be born until 20 years later!

    The game includes a few elements which can be understood as references to classical French language comics. For example, the victim's name 'Karaboudjan' is the name of a ship in the Tintin comic-strip album The Crab with the Golden Claws by Hergé. At a point of the game, you discover a tin can of crab meat, as a cover for a smuggling operation, exactly as in the comic book. Finally, a puzzle includes the name "Incal", which is possibly a reference to the title of the comic book by the same name by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius.

    Awards

    • ST Format
      • January 1993 (issue #42) - #35 in '50 finest Atari ST games of all time' list

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    Related Sites +

    • ScummVM
      supports Cruise for a Corpse under Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other platforms.

    Identifiers +

    • MobyGames ID: 2264
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    Contributors to this Entry

    Game added by -Chris.

    Amiga added by POMAH. Atari ST added by Kabushi.

    Additional contributors: Boston Low, Macs Black, Jo ST, FatherJack.

    Game added August 29, 2000. Last modified May 29, 2024.