Murder, She Wrote video game

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In 2009, Legacy Games published a hidden object game based on Murder, She Wrote. The company had previously published a series of games based on Law & Order, and in the 5 years between 2009 and 2014 it branched out to release several similar games that had tie-ins to other movies and TV shows.

The game featured 5 cases in which you play Jessica Fletcher and investigate various crime scenes for clues. The crime scene investigations are interspersed with cut scenes that include dialogue between the various characters involved in the case. For fans of the show, one of the nicest things about playing the game is seeing the interactions involving Jessica and other Cabot Cove regulars — specifically Dr. Seth Hazlitt and Sheriff Mort Metzger. Although all three characters are drawn to resemble Angela Lansbury, William Windom, and Ron Masak, they were voiced by other actors.

A screenshot from the game depicting the three main Cabot Cove regulars.

Crime scene investigation involves finding several objects that are hidden on the scene — some of which are important to the case and some of which are not. In some cases, there are multi-step processes involving the scene — for example, you may first need to find an object that allows you to open or reveal another object. Additionally, finding certain objects may unlock a mini-game — such as one in which you have to piece together an object like a puzzle. Finally, if you play a lot of hidden-object games, then you’ll notice that one of the most unique aspects of the game is its use of “typewriter keys”. Whereas most hidden object games will simply give you a written list of things you need to find, in Murder, She Wrote your written list has all the vowels missing in order to present an extra challenge. You can either guess what the listed object is supposed to be based on only the consonants, or you can search for the hidden vowel typewriter keys in the scene to fill in the blanks.

To get a better sense of the game play, you can watch a video in which I play through the first case in the game “A Deadly Catch” below or on YouTube.

As mentioned earlier, there are a total of five cases for Jessica to solve, most of which involve recurring characters from the show:

  1. A Deadly Catch (set in Cabot Cove and features Seth and Mort)
  2. Murder in the Maples (has Jessica visiting a friend in another town)
  3. A Garden to Die For (set in Cabot Cove, with Seth and Mort)
  4. Secrets & Ashes (set in Cabot Cove, with Seth and Mort)
  5. Final Curtain (set in London and features Jessica’s identical cousin Emma)

Unfortunately, after more than 10 years, the game is now quite difficult to find. You may have some luck finding the physical/CD-ROM copy on Amazon or other websites, and a MAC version of the game appears to still be available as a download on Amazon. I also found that trial versions of the game (that let you play for an hour before booting you out) are still possible to find on some gaming websites, but these websites no longer allow you to purchase the full version of the game.

In fact, I reached out to Legacy Interactive last year to ask whether they would sell me an unlocked version of the game directly and received the following response:

“Unfortunately, the TV licensor of Murder She Wrote did not wish to renew our distribution agreements. Therefore, we legally cannot distribute the game anymore. I wish we could help, but are contractually unable to do so.”

After doing some digging, I have figured out that the following work-around may allow you to at least play through the entirety of the first case without being booted out:

  • Download a trial version of the game (e.g. this one from Big Fish Games). The trial version only comes with the first case and normally only allows you to play for one hour before booting you out of the game.
  • Install the game as usual but DO NOT run it using the desktop shortcut. (This is important because as soon as you do that it will start the trial clock and you won’t be able to finish your game once your 1hr trial period is up.)
  • Instead of running it using the shortcut on your desktop, you should locate the direct game file using File Explorer. For me, this meant navigating to the C-drive on my PC, then going into the “Program Files (x86)” folder, and from there into the “Murder She Wrote” folder. Once you’ve located the game folder, you will need to make sure that “Hidden items” are visible (by going into the “View” menu and checking the “Hidden items” box). This will then make the file “Murder, She Wrote – FULL.exe” visible so that you can click on it and run the game. Running the hidden game file directly should bypass triggering the trial clock.

With any luck, following the steps above will allow you to play through the first case in its entirety.

3 comments

  1. I had purchased the game on Big Fish around the time it was first released. They had made another MSW hidden object game which I also purchased sometime later, but it isn’t as popular as the first one. I can access the full version any time through my purchase history on Big Fish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From what I can tell, if you had already purchased it then you can still access it. However, if someone is looking to buy it now, it is no longer listed on their store and when you click the link to unlock the full version it says you can’t.

      Like

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