Did you ever see the 1985 film adaptation of Cluedo? It was released under the board game's American title, Clue, and starred Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Colleen Camp and a few other folk who you'd probably recognise if you saw them again. Although it's dripping with cheese, it was pretty great at the time and featured three different endings in which various members of the cast all apparently committed the murder.
Alternate Endings brings us the same concept, mixed with elements of a choose-your-own-adventure book. The game is a series of videos featuring a live cast, carefully tied together to form a refreshingly comedic murder mystery.
The story is wonderfully ironic throughout. The plot revolves around the crew of a new movie who all have reason to do away with the obnoxious director. The director wants the film edited and sold his way, but the producer, the writer, the editor, the assistant director and the aspiring young actress are all brought under the spotlight when the director is found murdered on the stage - strangled by length of celluloid film, no less!
And this is where you come in - well, you and Russell, the security guard with aspirations of becoming a world-class gumshoe. Seeing as Russell's colleague is (apparently) drunken and uninterested in the murder case, it's up to you to guide the guard in an effort to solve the mysterious case of the dead director.
Naturally this isn't a massively interactive game, but the story does pause quite regularly to give you the option of deciding what Russell should do next. Generally this takes the form of a simple option between two choices: chase the suspect or investigate a strange noise, for instance. Each option screen can be decided arbitrarily simply by shaking the handset, so your own proclivity toward giving chase or tip toeing around crime scenes doesn't lead you down the same path each time.
Although the choices are pretty simple, their regularity means the story runs enough tangents to ensure there's plenty of reasons to keep playing the same mystery over and over again. Intriguing back stories for each of the characters give motive to revisit the game a second and third time in search of new choices and endings.
What's particularly impressive here is the structure. Different paths can sometimes lead back to the same clips, then off again in a totally new direction without the story ever crumbling under the pressure of your decisions. Writing, filming, and putting the app together in this way must have been a hellishly difficult task, but it flows with as much entertaining allure as any episode of Murder She Wrote, Quincy, or Columbo. It's a feat of ingenuity that the developers and cast should be very proud of.
Weighing in at a mere £1.19/$1.99, this is a must have application purely for the novelty value alone. That's not to say it isn't wonderfully entertaining and playable, of course, but it's a unique take on gaming and won't always suit your playing mood. But on those occasions when you're looking to sit back a little further in your chair and enjoy watching as much as playing, the wonderful script - laced with satire and balls out comedy worthy of the 1985 movie Clue - is unrivalled.