The Secret of Chateau de Moreau is one of those games that reminds you that a videogame can be many different things. In this case, it’s part adventure, part puzzler, and part interactive story. It doesn’t require any quick reflexes or practiced skills; it simply requires an interest in the multifaceted story that you slowly unwind.
You experience the Chateau de Moreau through Antoine, the fourth, adopted son of a recently deceased count. Upon returning to the chateau after a long absence, Antoine finds himself accused of murdering the count to get the inheritance. In the succeeding days, you have to work to clear Antoine’s name and discover the true cause of the count’s demise.
In taking on your task, you find that the chateau has many different secrets, with a host of clues leading to puzzles and often more questions than answers. A substantial portion of the game is devoted to dialogue, where you can interact with the well-drawn cast of characters, choosing from different questions and responses and, when necessary, presenting the right evidence. The dialogue itself is good, though it is needlessly chopped up into many tedious dialogue boxes, which are confusingly filled with far too much punctuation.
Now you’ve done it.
The rest of the gameplay consists of solving the puzzles, which can span rooms and floors, and sometimes require items found during your searching. Oddly, you navigate the chateau by dragging a small, unanimated avatar on a blueprint-like floor map. The graphics here are very barebones, which provides a strange contrast to the otherwise highly detailed art used to depict the individual rooms as you talk to characters and solve puzzles.
Another strange design choice is that Chateau de Moreau lacks of an auto-save feature, which would be helpful for playing on the go. But each time you load it up, the game does helpfully provide a recap of recent discoveries. The puzzles become more challenging as you progress, but the game guides you by the hand more often than it needs to.
Overall, the The Secret of Chateau de Moreau does a great job of pulling you into the game world, and its multifaceted approach to storytelling is refreshing and unique. Anyone with the patience to get into an involved but intriguing and artistic game should certainly pick this one up. Besides, don’t you want to know what the secret is?