Under a Killing Moon

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Under a Killing Moon (1994) is the third installment in the Tex Murphy series of adventure games produced by Access Software. In Under a Killing Moon Tex again fights the forces of evil as he tries to stop a dangerous cult from destroying the world. Under a Killing Moon combined full motion video (FMV) cutscenes with a 3D virtual world to explore.

Under a Killing Moon was in its day one of the largest video games ever, arriving on four CD-ROMs (although some material was duplicated among the four to reduce the amount of swapping).

An Under a Killing Moon movie was in the works starring Soleil Moon Frye in a prominent role. Frye appeared on The Jenny Jones Show to plug the movie during its early production stages, but the project was ultimately scrapped.

After its creators reacquired the rights to the series, it was re-released on Good Old Games on June 16, 2009.[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

Like all Tex Murphy games, Under a Killing Moon takes place in post-World War III San Francisco in December 2042. After the devastating events of WWIII, many major cities have been rebuilt (as is the case with New San Francisco), though certain areas still remain as they were before the war (as in Old San Francisco). WWIII 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 usually forced to live in the run-down areas of cities such as Old San Francisco. Tex lives on Chandler Avenue in Old San Francisco. All his friends are Mutants, though he himself is a Norm.Since the events of his first case The Law and Order Party has long since dissolved and disbanded but it still lives on in the more extremist and openly anti - mutant group The Crusade for Genetic Purity which now espouses a return to pre-WWIII society with Norms having full control of society without mutants.

In Under a Killing Moon the player plays as Tex Murphy, Private Investigator. Tex has hit rock bottom. Recently divorced from his wife Sylvia Linsky, out of work, low on cash, and living in a rundown part of Old San Francisco, Tex realizes that he has to get his act together. Tex sets out to hunt for work. He 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. The Countess is promising to pay Tex more money than he's seen in his life. But everything quickly goes downhill when Tex finds himself unwittingly involved in the affairs of a dangerous cult.Under a Killing Moon has many unique characters, and stars several well-known actors such as Brian Keith, Margot Kidder, Russell Means and the voice of James Earl Jones.

Storyline[edit | edit source]

The story begins with God conversing with his assistant that although he isn’t the best person for the Tex is next on the list of people to save the day from the looming threat.It continues with a newsreel from the end of World War II detailing the allied forces efforts at destroying the remnants of Nazi cults and temples.It then shifts to a trio of cultists at a burnt out cathedral with one picking up a crystal statuette of a dove and then shows Tex Murphy traversing the skies of San Fransisco monologing on his current state living in a run down hotel and divorced with very little work to his name. In a conversation with Colonel Dobbs as they discuss his retirement and their past grievances as well as Tex’s name coming up in a dangerous case Dobbs was working on. After losing his gun to a child and also getting a plastic surgery coupon and form for an electronic store credit card Tex heads to Chelsee Bando's Newsstand where he learns that Rook Garner has been robbed and that before it happened she noticed a strange man with green eyes and an anchor tattoo on his arm.He heads into Rooks Pawn Shop on Chandler Avenue who reveals that a bracelet he came into possession from a customer was stolen as part of a rash of robberies in the area and asks Tex to solve case in exchange for favors. Tex deduces that the original owner Ema Nymton is not a suspect as her alias is "not my name" spelt backwards.Upon examining the evidence in the alley behind Rook's Shop consisting of a chocolate footprint,a broken window and red hair he collects a key,a coupon for plastic surgery and batteries .He heads to Mac Maulden who reveals that the only thing the police have found is that the perpetrator is a caucasian,norm with AB negative blood.Tex then proceeds to gets more information from the denizens of the Avenue including , Clint the chocoholic whom he bribes with a chocolate pie from Louie to get information on the burglars' height and weight as 300lbs and 6'4. Tex then enters the abandoned Rusty’s Funhouse using a key under the doormat and takes an Inspector Burns mask ,Rusty the Clown life animatronic sized doll,stacking ring and crossbow. Using another key he found hidden in the shop, he proceeds to the back room to collect a balloon, a suction dart and finds the remains of Rusty the Clown inside a barrel of acid.Tex has the ballon filled with helium and goes to his off and uses the Crime Link Database and inputs the information he has received to find that is was carried out by Mick Flemm. Following a lead from Chelsee, Tex arrives at the Coit Tower and meets Beek Nariz who in exchange for the plastic surgery coupon reveals that Mick is at the Snow White Warehouse.He also discloses that he not only killed Rusty over the clown making him take the fall for their smuggling of illegal fireworks but Mick and his girlfriend steal from pawnshops by having her trade the bracelet for a significant amount of money and then steal the bracelet back as well as anything else. Beek also reveals that Mick has suffered from coulrophobia and has nightmares of Rusty. Tex heads to the warehouse and sets up a trap with the Rusty Doll(with batteries) to scare Mick into running off to the police to confess the murder and burglary. Tex leaves the warehouse after recovering the bracelet and stealing keys left behind by Mick. Using the keys found there and in the alley he acquires a jade stone stored in a compartment box as well as fireman suit left behind in a crate. It then cuts to a native American discussing a nefarious plot involving a group called CAPRICORN and Tex Murphy with an individual hiding in a large chair.

The next day after returning the bracelet, Tex gets a boost in his confidence and heads to to Electronic Shop to buy a new fax machine after ordering a new credit card. After heading back to his office, Tex is contacted by one Countess Renier in 1329 Fillmore Pacific Heights who seeks Tex's help to recover a stolen dove statuette that she wants within a week due to it being an extremely rare and valuable heirloom and that more than likely it would be sold on the black market by a large number of bidders(offering a $30,000 finders fee and $1,000 to help him find it). His investigation leads to a Jade dealer named Franco Franco from Chelsee and Mac Malden(who has caught Mick Flemm who had turned himself in).Tex is given the location of a Jewelry Weekly trade paper which has an advertisement from Franco, whom he meets in the Alabama theatre.Frnaco discloses the name of the current owner of the statuette Eddie Ching.Back at his office Tex receives a fax from Franco who reveals that he lives in a luxury apartment in Knickerbocker.Mac Malden Tex learns Ching is one of the largest crime lords in the city and allegedly “owning” the police and that he lives on the penthouse on the entire top floor. When he reaches the top of the apartment he notices that the home security system was installed by Underwood Incorporated and thus the owner of the electronic store .Confronting Hamm he is told how to enter. Tex rappels onto the roof of the apartment and cuts through the LCD glass window using a laser blade he bought, he enters the apartment and steals a hidden key and a "geigger trap" in the library alongside some clown fish food.After filling the stacking ring at the end with water from a fish tank ,Tex proceeds to the hallway and fires the suction dart through a set of laser beams to open the power box and deactivate the switch with the ring. In the next room, he traps Ching's geigger (a small bipedal carnivorous lizard) with a box of geiger chow and and takes it with him.He also finds a six foot long pole with a noose,a letter to Ching from his mom regarding his upcoming 30th birthday and an Ultra Safe 8000.Tex uses Chings birthdate to open the safe which contains a list of all the other bidders for the statuette including one L.Percival and a security card that opens a hidden treasure room with several ancient artifacts and paintings including the statuette. Tex deactivate the laser field surrounding the statuette once again using the card and takes it using the six foot long noose pole. On his way home, Tex is beaten and mugged by the native American Shaman when he tries to bring the statuette inside.

After waking up in his bed, Tex meet up with Francesca Lucido who is willing to trade information about the mugging if Tex gets evidence that her husband Sal is cheating(Sal had told Fran not to tell Murphy as they might put themselves in danger). She gives him piece of a coded note and his investigations lead him to the rest of coded note that was tore up left in Louies trash can/Tex pieces the note together and deciphers it and it reveals that Sal was to meet an escort named Chastity at the Golden Gate Hotel. Realizing that Ardo the mentally challenged receptionist is a fan of Inspector Burns, he returns to the hotel posing as the inspector in order to fool him as Sal has warned him of Tex arriving. In the room Tex finds that Sal has had numerous affairs with many escorts and acquires photographic evidence of one such affair .After developing the photos at the Electronic Shop, Tex hands them to Fran. She tells him details of the man she saw beating up Tex and that a mutant named Pug who had being spying on Murphy and stole his wallet. Sal then put Murphy into his apartment. With intel from Beek, Tex located Pug near the warehouse who reveals that he was hired by Dobbs to report on Murphy's status quo. Back at the Colonel's office, Dobbs is found stabbed in the chest. He reveals that the native American known as The Chameleon was there to find a device called a "Winter Chip" p and mentions to Murphy to get it to CAPRICORN directing him to a disk on his bookcase . After taking Dobbs to the hospital, Tex returns home only to be confronted by Eddie Ching, a 30 year old Asian woman who reveals that the statuette he stole was done so at the orders of a cult at the behest of The Chameleon. As a result, the world will only have six days before its final destruction.It then shifts to the Chameleon and the Phoenix talking about the events that took place at Colonel Dobbs and decide to keep Murphy alive so until he becomes a threat.

After searching for clues in the now empty mansion that belongs to Countess Renier he finds a watch with a secret compartment,an expensive cigarette case with one cigarette left(stolen form a bald eagle) and a torn up note that reveals that Murphy may have indeed been set up by someone at the Bastion Of Sanctity.At the Colonels office Tex finds a letter sent from Melahn Tode learns that his mentor is a member of CAPRICORN, a government organization that infiltrates and destroys cults, terrorist groups and other secret societies. He then informs the Colonel's wife of the current state of affairs and she gives him a package with a key to a drawer which contains a coded message in a folder.He finds a UPEX receipt that indicates something was sent to Melahn.It happens to be the combination for a safe that contains the codebreaker for the note .Back at Dobbs office he finds out more about the group and their infiltration of a company known as GRS, who deals in virus and genetics research employing Alaynah Moore(who he has tracked to the Roadside Motel) and are being funded by the Crusade for Genetic Purity and a cult. It also mentions that they have an agent Eva Schanzee(who he has sent a package to) working there and are getting help from Paul DuBois(who is going to send information that would destroy the group) who have since gone missing.He also mentions his fears of the Chameleon and that GRS has disbanded and he has been unable to contact CAPRICORN.At the hotel Tex meets Alaynah who is the younger sister of a former flame who was one day out of the blue contacted by the Colonel.She reveals that she quit the company when she realised she was in danger via notes sent to her and when her place was ransacked while on vacation forcing her to move into San Fransisco. She hands her passcard and tells her to wait for her thereAfter infiltrating the company Tex finds information gathered by Elaine's superior Paul DuBois meant to be sent to the Colonel regarding the crusade for genetic purity, the GRS project on creating a lethal virus and the Moon Child, a space station containing all known forms of plant and animal life and thousands of humans orbiting the moon. Tex also learns about the induction of Paul, Alaynah and a woman called Eva Schanzee into the corporation's cult via her own video recordings(and that she was the one trying to scare Alaynah away for her own safety), the prophecy regarding the Earth's purification and the construction of the Moon Child by an incubus using the Habuh statuette and the influence of the cult since ancient times to modern day in the shadows. Further investigations into the building reveal that Eva and agent from CAPRICORN had infiltrated the group and prepared the winter chip to destroy the Moon Child station and that she and Paul had been discovered (she warned Elaine that she was in danger via notes) . Sacrificing the geigger and using a taped recording of the corporation leader Marcus Tucker, Tex manages to find the winter chip in a jade buddha statue located in a secret room. Hiding it in the watch he had discovered earlier on, he watches a video that reveals the corporation's evil plans to disperse the virus into the atmosphere via a powder form in order for it to enter the water cycle which will kill all life in a matter of days will stay in the biosphere for next 30 years.He also views the virus being tested on Paul Dubois transported via cigarette smoke.A shredded note reveals the Bation of Sanctioty as the possiblee whearabouts of the Chameleon.After procuring a cigarette viral powder he heads home. While asleep The Chameleon kidnaps Alaynah disguised as Tex. When Murphy awakes he receives a message from the shape-shifter and reveals he has killed Pug and left his head in Tex’s water cooler, and kidnapped Alaynah with the threat of killing her if he doesn’t abandon the quest for the chip.

Tex finds the Bastion of Sanctioty whose coordinates he obtained earlier in the GRS building. Tex diverts The Chameleon, adding the viral powder to a cigarette switches it with the one the shaman was smoking. Once The Chameleon dies from the virus, Tex frees Alaynah and discovers that the Shaman was meant to travel to the Moon Child via the Broken Skull Bar orbiting the planet to meet someone called Ferral Pus. Here he meets the bartender who mentions that he requires a token to continue .After talking to Alaynah back at her hotel she says she overheard the Chameleon talking about using an old silver dollar as a token.Tex gains an old dollar from Rook and returns to the bar where he is allowed access to the backroom.Here he meets Ferral Pus after using the password "Jacks or Better"and must play a deadly game of roulette (or ferrelette)where he must correctly procure three pieces of a ticket to the space station from one of several floating balls or else a spidrone will kill him.Ferral tells him the house special is a good drink to get and when he orders it Tex is knocked out by the bartender and awakens on the Moon Child.

Here he meets Lowell who informs him of his plan to rid the world of the impurities of the world and create a new paradise repopulating the planet with the crème de la crème of society and reprieve mankind of its past mistakes. Tex briefly considers going along but decides to foil their plans. After knocking out a guard he finds Eva and reawaken her from cyrosleep. She helps Tex to plug in the winter chip into the network with some notes she gives her which overloads the Moon Child's reactor. Both Tex and
Tex Murphy: Dance Instructor to Dolores Lightbody
Eva escapes the space station in am ship shortly before it exploded. Back at Louie's cafe, Tex discusses his future with the Colonel alongside Eva. The story ends with Tex teaching dancing lessons with Delores Lightbody,While this happens, God comments to his assistant that although Tex has saved the day, evil never dies.With these words, Sylvia returns asking for forgiveness resulting in a loud scream from Murphy.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

The virtual world Under a Killing Moon was the first Tex Murphy game to fully utilize 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 perspectives had been popularized by Doom the previous year, it was unusual at the time to see these characteristics in an adventure game. The designers also wished to achieve the graphics quality of pre-rendered multimedia adventures like The 7th Guest and aimed for a compromisation between the two. It is therefore notable that these graphics did not use raycasting techniques like Doom, but true texture-mapped polygons that allowed players to look in all directions, and ran in resolutions up to 640x480.


Conversations Under a Killing Moon was 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. They believed that the process of reading, selecting and then hearing the same line by the character decreases the momentum and pacing of the experience. Instead, vague descriptions of the dialogue choices were given, providing some surprise to what Tex would say.


Structure The game is separated into a series of six chapters called "days" where the player is allowed to perform certain actions pertaining to the plot and completing the day's objectives in whatever order they wish. This means that the player can visit characters and pick up items in any convenient, but maintaining a general overall sequence of events.

According to the Strategy Guide, the game takes place between December 11 (Day One) and December 17 (Day Seven). There is also some discontinuity in dialogue: On Day Three (December 13) Eddie Ching tells Tex that the doomsday (aka Purification) will occur in seven days, i.e. December 20. However the game's climax takes place 3 days later, on December 16, when Tex averts the Purification moments before it begins.

Development[edit | edit source]

Under a Killing Moon was one of the largest video games of its era, with a budget of 2 million dollars and 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. 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 notable that the game's 3D 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 640x480. The designers Chris Connor and Aaron Conners recalled they went to their programmers and said, "we want the 3D movement of Wolfenstein, but we want it to look closer to the quality of [pre-rendered graphics of] The 7th Guest." The game was oringinally released on October 31st 1994 and re-released on June 16 2009 on Good Old Games.com

Cast[edit | edit source]

Novelization[edit | edit source]

Aaron Conners wrote a novel based on the game scenario. See Under a Killing Moon novelization

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]


References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]