Codex Gamicus

La Abadía del Crimen (translated: The Abbey of Crime) is a computer video game programmed in 1987 by Paco Menéndez based in the novel The Name of the Rose written by Umberto Eco. The graphics were made by Juan Delcán.

This game is a video adventure with 3D isometric graphics, where a Franciscan monk, Fray William of Occam (William of Baskerville in the book) and his young novice Adso of Melk have to discover the perpetrator of a series of murders in a medieval Benedictine abbey.


The player controls the movement of Fray William. The player has also the possibility to control the movement of the novice Adso within the same screen in which Fray William is. If the key for controlling the novice is not pressed he follows Fray William most of the time. The game features other characters representing the monks of the Benedictine abbey who behave according to programmed artificial intelligence to move throughout the mapping of the abbey and show a series of dialogues shown by written text which is moved along the lower part of the screen.

An extensive mapping of the abbey is represented in a large series of screens with 3D isometric graphics. A series of objects has to be collected in order to successfully complete the game. The action occurs in 7 days subdivided in different Canonical hours. The time (day + current hour) is indicated at the bottom left of the screen.

The game starts with the abbot welcoming Fray William and explaining that a monk has disappeared. He also explains to Fray William that he is obligated to obey the orders of the abbot and the rules of the monastery: attend Religious services and meals and stay in his cell at night while the research of the crimes is pursued. During the game the novice Adso will remind you when you have to attend offices and meals, and you can just follow him if you forget the way to the church or the refectory.

If you disobey any orders, or are late for services, etc., then your obsequium level, indicated on the bottom right-hand-side of the screen, will drop (obsequium is Latin for subservience or obedience). Once this obsequium level drops to zero, the abbot will not tolerate your disrespect any longer, and you will have to leave the abbey and the game is over. Some actions, such as missing a prayer office altogether or being caught wandering around at night, result in immediate expulsion and the end of the game.


The game was originally developed for the Amstrad CPC 6128 8-bit platform and ported to other systems: the ZX Spectrum, MSX and DOS. The Amstrad CPC 464 version was different from the 6128 original, since several rooms and decoration were removed to fit the game on the 64K of the 464. A remake of this game was made for Microsoft Windows, Game Boy Advance, Java and the MSX2. Also, a complete disassembly of the original Z80 code for the Amstrad CPC and a rewrite of it in C++ was made by Manuel Abadia (Vigasoco project). There is an SDL port of Vigasoco that runs on Linux (x86, PowerPC and PlayStation 3), PlayStation 2, Windows XP, Mac OS X and the Dreamcast.

The only ZX Spectrum version was for the 128 platform, being considered one of the perfect ten games for the machine according to Retro Gamer.[1]


The music played in the game corresponds to the Minuet in G major and the sonata for flute BWV 1033 from Bach, and Crystal Palace from Gwendal. The original PC version also featured the "Ave Maria" from Haendel, in a short chorus recording that played through the speaker when we went to the church.

There's an eastern egg on the PC version: if someone tried to make an illegal copy of the game and used it, when we went to the church, instead of the "Ave Maria", we heard through the speaker a creepy voice crying "Pirate! Pirate! Pirate!" several times, and after that the game crashed.

The game was originally conceived as a version of Umberto Eco's book The Name of the Rose. However, Paco Menéndez and Opera Soft received no reply from Eco in order to secure the rights for the name, so the game was released as La Abadía del Crimen.

Critical reaction[]

The game was programmed making the most of the capacities of 8-bit computers, and taking a high level of care for details: plot, mapping, graphics, artificial intelligence of the characters, sound, etc. All of this made the game to be regarded as one of the best video games made for 8 bit computers. In spite of its quality, the game was never officially released outside of Spain.


  1. Spectrum 128 perfect ten games. Retro Gamer 48, pages 64 and 65

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