Far bet it from me to complain about Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot: The London Case introducing more incongruous eye candy, after my previous conniptions over Hot Hipster Poirot with his ankle-grazer trousers and his sexy egg-shaped head, but tick tock, it’s himbo Hastings o’clock. Released on Steam this week, The London Case takes young Poirot to, err, London, charged with protecting a famous painting along with a representative of the insurance firm. Naturellement, the painting is stolen from an apparently locked room under everyone’s silly noses, and thus begins Poirot and Hastings’ first puzzle caper together (for who else is our insurance representative?).
Technically, of course, they met in The Mysterious Affair At Styles, when Captain Arthur Hastings was on leave from the front during WW1, but one of the things I like about this series is how it takes what it wants and gently buffs away the rest. If you’re going to adapt, then adapt! Like The First Cases, which came out in 2021, the game itself is largely a process of pointing and clicking through crime scenes to find clues, and then joining them in a big mind map akin to what you’d find in a Frogwares Sherlock Holmes game. But having Hastings along does make it a bit more fun, because his role is to be a bit of an idiot.
The game is a little bit larger as well, with a few different locations to visit in the course of your investigation (which I have not yet finished). You rotate the scene like a little diorama of a museum office, or a flat, or a church, and send Poirot to look around. I’ve run into a couple of sections where I can’t find the last clue in an area, because one must click on a specific part of a fire trail, but in general it all works well, and there’s a good cast of insufferable suspects. There’s even an old friend returning from the first game, which I found unexpectedly heartwarming. But the main innovation is Hastings.
I say innovation. He’s just a man. A big blonde hunk. He stands there and has a nice curl in his hair. Like Watson, who Sherlock Holmes once said was a useful “helpmate”, in part because he found every development in the case a complete surprise (and sometimes because he was used as a human rubber duck), Hastings’ job in this game is to be impressed as you solve the crime. He reminds me of the ITV version of Hastings, who said, “I say!” a lot, and liked cars, and was a fool for pretty women.
I can’t explain it, but it makes everything feel so much more detective-y to have a slightly nonplussed sidekick there, to be amazed at you smelling poison and then deducing that someone has, in fact, been poisoned. Extremely ugly naming convention aside, I find these games absolutely charming and quite funny. I’m extremely excited to see the introduction of Young Hot Inspector Japp, which is surely only a matter of time…