Under a Killing Moon

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Under a Killing Moon
Under a Killing Moon Coverart.png
Developer(s) Access Software
Director(s) David F. Brown
Designer(s) Aaron Conners
Chris Jones
Programmer(s) Bruce Ward (lead)
Artist(s) Neil Galloway (art director)
Nathan Larsen (art director)
Writer(s) Aaron Conners
Composer(s) Larry Bastian
Jon Clark
Eric Heberling
Series Tex Murphy
Platform(s) MS-DOS
Release date(s)
  • NA October 31, 1994
  • EU 1994
Genre(s) Adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution 4 CD-ROMs

Under a Killing Moon is the third installment in the Tex Murphy series of graphic adventure games produced by Access Software. In it, Tex again fights the forces of evil as he tries to stop a dangerous cult from destroying the world.

Under a Killing Moon 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 on June 16, 2009.[1]


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 640x480.

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.


Under a Killing Moon 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 (as is the case with New San Francisco), though certain areas still remain as they were before the war (as in 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 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 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, 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 and the Countess is promising to pay Tex more money than he has seen in his life. However, everything quickly goes downhill when Tex finds himself unwittingly involved in the affairs of a dangerous cult.


Review scores
Publication Score
IGN 9.0[2]
PC Gamer US 92%[3]

Under a Killing Moon received generally positive reviews. Contemporary reviews largely praised the game for its technology and cinematic presentation.[3][4] In 2002, Adventure Gamers gave it a score of 4.5 out of 5, calling it "a fantastically-plotted mystery with great characters and classic Tex Murphy humor."[5] According to IGN in 2006, the game "has weathered the test of time as one of the best detective games to this day."[2]

In 1996, Computer Gaming World ranked it as the 99th best game of all time for the "campy humor combined with amazing 3D scenery in this futuristic film noir."[6] In 2011, Adventure Gamers placed it as 25th on their list of the best adventure games of all time.[7]


A novelization of Under a Killing Moon was written by the game's original writer Aaron Conners in 1996. Although the basic plot, characters, and setting remain mostly the same, it differs significantly from the game, providing a great deal of extra information, new characters, character deaths, and more detailed character motivations related to the main plot involving the Moonchild, while removing scenes and characters from the game that did not relate to the Moonchild plot, creating a more singular Chandler-esque mystery novel. The final ending of the game (meeting The Colonel and Eva in the bar, and dancing lessons with Delores Lightbody) is also changed to continue this style.


  1. ^ "Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon". Good Old Games (GOG). Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  2. ^ a b Fahs, Travis (2006-02-11). "Under a Killing Moon Review". IGN. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  3. ^ a b Meredith, Gary (January 1995). "Under A Killing Moon". PC Gamer Online. Archived from the original on 2000-03-11. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  4. ^ Jong, Philip (1996-04-26). "Under a Killing Moon". Adventure Classic Gaming. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  5. ^ Dickens, Evan (2002-05-22). "Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon Review". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  6. ^ "150 Best (and 50 Worst) Games of All Time" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. November 1996. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  7. ^ AG Staff (2011-12-30). "Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 

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