Under a Killing Moon

Tex Murphy

Under a Killing Moon‘ is the third installment in the ‘Tex Murphy’ series of graphic adventure games produced by Access Software in 1994. It was one of the largest video games of its era, arriving on four CD-ROMs (although some material was duplicated among the four to reduce the amount of swapping).

The game combined full motion video (FMV) cutscenes with an advanced 3D virtual world to explore. After its creators reacquired the rights to the series, it was re-released on ‘Good Old Games’ in 2009.

‘Under a Killing Moon’ dramatically shifted the gameplay of its predecessors in the series by fully utilizing interactive 3D environments. The player controls Tex from a first person perspective. The virtual world allows full freedom of movement, and as such allows the player to look for clues in every nook and cranny. Though action games with 3D environments and first-person perspective had been popularized by first-person shooters such as ‘Doom,’ it was very unusual at the time to see these characteristics used in an adventure game. It is also notable that these graphics did not use ray casting techniques like ‘Doom,’ but true texture-mapped polygons that allowed players to look in all directions as well as duck, and ran in then-high resolutions of up to 640×480.

It was also the first Tex Murphy game to stray from the traditional adventure game dialogue format of providing options that showed exactly what the player’s character would say. Instead, descriptions of the dialogue choices were given, providing some mystery to what Tex would say.

The story takes place in post-World War III San Francisco in December 2042. After the devastating events of the nuclear war, many major cities have been rebuilt (e.g. New San Francisco), though certain areas still remain as they were before the war (e.g. Old San Francisco). The war also left another mark on the world: the formation of two classes of citizens. Specifically, some people have developed a natural resistance against radioactivity, and thus are normal or ‘Norms’—everybody else are Mutants in some form. Tensions between the two groups have risen dramatically since the end of the war, and Norms and Mutants usually do not get along. The Mutants are forced to live in the run-down areas of town. Tex lives on Chandler Avenue in Old San Francisco. All his friends are Mutants, though he is a Norm.

In ‘Under a Killing Moon,’ Tex Murphy, a private investigator, has hit rock bottom. Recently divorced from his wife Sylvia, out of work, low on cash, Tex realizes that he has to get his act together. He sets out to hunt for work and finds it quickly once he discovers that the pawnshop across the street from his apartment has been robbed. Tex quickly solves the case, and feels his luck has begun to change. Then a mysterious woman calling herself Countess Renier, having heard good things about Tex, hires him to find her missing statuette. Everything seems great at first and the Countess is promising to pay Tex more money than he has seen in a long time. However, everything quickly goes downhill when Tex finds himself unwittingly involved in the affairs of a dangerous cult.


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