Sacred Ground

Brief game description

The wife of a local business man has been kidnapped. You have five days to solve the crime before the Bureau will step into the case. Your only leads are those around where the woman was last seen and the guests of a dinner party the previous evening.

This is the second (I believe) of the Santa Fe mysteries, the first was the Elk Moon Murder. If you have played that game, this one will be very familiar.

The game uses a set of stills for the various game locations with video interviews of the suspects and audio files for your forensic and alibi reports. The video interviews were well designed and the actors were quite good.

Game play and hints

In the upper left corner of your screen, there is a calendar which displays 5 days, with X's over any days you have finished. In the upper right corner, you will find a sundial showing how many hours you have left in the day. The time any task will take to accomplish will appear in the middle of the sundial. The lower right hand corner shows your Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). The PDA is where you get messages from the office (including alibi checks, forensic reports and calls from your chief), and also holds all of your notes from the case thus far. This allows you to easily review notes after an interview.

When you are not interviewing a suspect or examining your PDA, you may right click to access the save game (and others) function. Save often and remember that each time you interview a suspect can open new avenues of enquiry and use your precious time. So do be sure to save different games so you have less backtracking to do if you discover your line of enquiry is going nowhere.

Time counts in this game. Questioning suspects, verifying alibis and asking for forensic reports will all cost you time. You only have 5 working days in which to solve the case or the feds will be called in. One hint, at the end of the day, you will be able to finish interviewing the suspect or informant before the game progresses to the next day. Which means that you should go ahead and interview one person when you only have an hour or less to spare. It will allow you to get a little bit more than your eight hours in.

Remember, you have to build a case against your suspects. This means that you will need the evidence, you will need to know if someone has a false alibi, and you will need to sort out which accusations were red herrings. This was true about the first game and true about this game as well.

Gripes about the game

It was confusing to be told to go to the Chief's office while in Police Headquarters. It turns out that the Chief's office is the exterior (so to speak) of the building.

Not being able to save a game while interviewing a suspect could get annoying, if you aren't sure which path your questioning should take.


From Activision this game is very much in the same vein as the Elk Moon Murder. It is a detective story, there is no inventory. This has its plus side, but it does mean that the game is less complex then some. If you can find the game, you should find some entertainment from it for a day or two.

This is an older game so it should run fine on most computers, plus the CD is Win95/MS-Dos/Macintosh compatible. Little gore, no critical time sequences, and a decent case to unravel as a detective.

Some final thoughts on the game.

For an older game, the game play here holds up well. The key to the game is finding out which leads are important and which are not. Time is by far the most important factor here, you need to have interviewed and checked the alibis of the right people to win the game. I did manage to finish the game in a single day, but it did take most of that day. I find it a pity that the game series didn't continue.