Ever since his wife passed away five years ago, Randolph Steere's life has been solely dedicated to his research of afterlife. Nothing was too expensive or too ridiculous to get into contact with his Irene. Electricity was banned from his villa, because Randolph assumed it would disturb the psychic energy. He even hired a medium to support his efforts! Until the day he fell down the stairs and died...
The whole Steere family has gathered and a few close personal friends of Randolph have gathered in Steere Manor to hear the last will of the former master of the house. The largest chunk of the vast fortune goes to something called the 'Schabernack Foundation'.
Of course, not everybody is happy with the old man's decisions, but they seem to be accepted grudgingly. At least by everybody but the Professor who claims he has received a letter from Randolph just shortly before his death in which he talks about 'being through' and the existence of a new will. The Professor and his former student, Randolph's great-nephew, have only one night to find this new will - and it could be anywhere in the house.
Murder Makes Strange Deadfellows, being a sequel to Case of the Cautious Condor, uses a similar game engine as its predecessor. On a map of the house, you choose which room to go to. This choice then triggers a non-interactive cutscene whose contents depend on the time of the day/night. From these scenes, you either get clues leading towards the solution of the mystery or not.
Even with these similarities, there are a few downsides in this particular game. Mainly the production values. It already starts with the prologue which tries its best to destroy the dark mood established by the intro. Cheap jokes are flying around, and worst of all, they're incredibly badly timed and therefore don't work at all. This particular aspect does get better in the later game, though.
This can't be said about the next problem: logical inconsistencies. In some scenes, things which happened earlier are referenced by your character - no matter whether you've actually seen them or not. Alternate versions would have been necessary to reflect the actual situations in a way which makes sense.
The game is a lot simpler than Condor. Too many combinations of place and time just don't do anything at all; either you're scared away by a ghost immediately, or there just isn't anybody there to talk or whose conversations to overhear. In Condor, you could at least search the place in the latter case - but even that option has been removed.
The worst offense is that most of the game is just facade, though. There isn't anything you actually have to do - a little guessing right at the beginning is enough (no 'means, opportunity, motive' restriction like in Condor), and you're through without having seen anything. And even if you take the game seriously and actually play it, the 'right' scenes to watch are easily spotted once you've figured out the common element in all of them - which is just a question of time; very little time.
Don't get me wrong: Murder Makes Strange Deadfellows is still a good game if you're willing to actually play it the way it's supposed to be. It's just not understandable why so many flaws have been built in which haven't been there in the first part of the series, especially since most of them can be explained with simple carelessness. The way it is, Murder Makes Strange Deadfellows is a basically good haunted house mystery with less-than-perfect execution.
Thanks to zork and rezaf!