Under a Killing Moon

Under a Killing Moon is a 1994 point-and-click adventure interactive movie video game. It is the third installment in the Tex Murphy series of adventure games produced by Access Software. In it, the detective Tex Murphy finds himself unwittingly involved in the affairs of a dangerous cult.

Under a Killing Moon
Cover art
Developer(s)Access Software
Director(s)David F. Brown
Designer(s)Aaron Conners
Chris Jones
Programmer(s)Bruce Ward
Artist(s)Neil Galloway
Nathan Larsen
Writer(s)Aaron Conners
Composer(s)Larry Bastian
Jon Clark
Eric Heberling
SeriesTex Murphy
Platform(s)DOS, Mac OS
  • NA: October 31, 1994
  • EU: 1994
  • NA: 1995 (Mac)
Genre(s)Point-and-click adventure, Interactive movie


Under a Killing Moon dramatically shifted the gameplay of its predecessors in the series by fully utilizing interactive 3D environments. The player controls the protagonist 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. 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 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 Murphy 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 run-down 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 burglarized. 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 out about a doomsday plot by a deadly cult calling themselves the Brotherhood of Purity.

Development and releaseEdit

Under a Killing Moon was one of the largest video games of its era, with a budget of 2 million dollars[1] 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 a 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 Jones 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."[2]

The game was originally released on October 31, 1994. After its creators reacquired the rights to the series, it was re-released on Good Old Games on June 16, 2009.[3]



Following Under a Killing Moon's launch in late 1994,[4] market research firm PC Data named it the United States' fifth-best-selling computer game of November.[5] The game's overall sales had reached 400,000 copies before the release of Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive in 1996. At the time, Access reported that it had "broken all Access Software sales records".[4]

Critical reviewsEdit

Review scores
Adventure Gamers     [6]
CGW     [7]
Next Generation     [9]
PC Gamer (US)92%[10]

Under a Killing Moon received universally positive reviews. Contemporary reviews praised the game for its technology and cinematic presentation.[11] 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."[6] According to IGN in 2006, the game "has weathered the test of time as one of the best detective games to this day."[8] IGN also called it "a landmark for adventure games" and "a rebirth for the series, using new technology to create a game that was both cinematic and playable."[12]

Next Generation reviewed the PC version of the game, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "If you haven't tried an interactive movie yet, this is a perfect place to start."[9]

Computer Gaming World ranked it as the 99th in the magazine's 1996 list of the best computer games of all time for the "campy humor combined with amazing 3D scenery in this futuristic film noir".[13] In 2011, Adventure Gamers placed it 25th on their list of all-time best adventure games.[14]

Under a Killing Moon won the' Codie awards 1994 "Best Fantasy Role Playing/Adventure Program" prize.[15]



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. ^ "Chris Jones Talks Tex: Bringing Back Tex Murphy". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. 2012-05-22. Archived from the original on 2014-05-13. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  2. ^ "Chris Jones and Aaron Conners, game designers | Interview | The Gameological Society". Gameological.com. 2013-09-11. Archived from the original on 2014-07-02. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  3. ^ "Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon". Good Old Games (GOG). Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  4. ^ a b "Tex Murphy Returns with a New Mystery" (Press release). Access Software. Archived from the original on October 25, 1996.
  5. ^ Staff (April 1995). "Leaderboard". Electronic Entertainment (16): 18.
  6. ^ a b Dickens, Evan (2002-05-22). "Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon Review". Adventure Gamers. Archived from the original on 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  7. ^ Charles Ardai (January 1995). "Computer Gaming World - Issue 126" (PDF) (126): 132. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ a b Fahs, Travis (2006-02-11). "Under a Killing Moon Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  9. ^ a b "Finals". Next Generation. No. 2. Imagine Media. February 1995. p. 96.
  10. ^ Meredith, Gary (January 1995). "Under A Killing Moon". PC Gamer Online. Archived from the original on 2000-03-11. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  11. ^ Jong, Philip (1996-04-26). "Under a Killing Moon". Adventure Classic Gaming. Archived from the original on 2013-03-05. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  12. ^ Fahs, Travis (2008-09-10). "Tex Murphy Creators Reveal Three Cards to Midnight - IGN". Uk.ign.com. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  13. ^ "150 Best Games of All Time". Computer Gaming World. November 1996. pp. 64–80. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  14. ^ AG Staff (2011-12-30). "Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games". Adventure Gamers. Archived from the original on 2013-05-26. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  15. ^ "SPA Announces Codie Award Winners" (Press release). San Diego, California: Software Publishers Association. March 13, 1995. Archived from the original on February 10, 1998.

External linksEdit