Art of Murder : Cards of Destiny, City Interactive 2010
The version reviewed is from the reissued three pack offering all three games of the series. This game ran in 64 bit Windows 7. I did not check the functioning of the other two games in this set regarding Windows 7. It is only a guess but most likely they will run as well. The games are shipped on one DVD and can be individually installed. Art of Murder three is a standard point and click 3rd person interface. The backgrounds are 2D built on the same engine as the first two games. There are a few short comings such as no hot spot key is found to highlight points of interest. The interface is difficult in the sense “hot” items have a narrow mouse range requiring close searching. Something to highlight active items would have helped considerably. Double clicking allows Nicole to run and sometimes will provide instant switching to the next screen. This area is one of several where the mechanics are inconsistent. A right click on objects generates a comment about the object. Often a simple click on that object gets nothing so right clicking is a must or you could easily miss something. There are a lot of items you can examine in close up. That is the field often used to interact with desk, shelves and the like. Right clicking in inventory allows you to find hidden items or alter the one you have. The inventory bar is displayed at the bottom of the screen to be revealed by moving your mouse to that area. You can as is the norm mix items inside your inventory to create altered items. Every inventory item should be examined with a right click. There is no “look” icon. Access to the controls is achieved by using the escape key. I cannot comment on the number of saves allowed as I had forty-seven. It suggests the format allows unlimited saves. As always Windows 7 is a master at hiding saves. There does not appear to be any consistent location. In this game they are easy to find as saves are located under My Documents\Art of Murder.
The graphics are nicely rendered with no overly dark spots. In fact if it is too dark Nicole complains about it and forces you to deal with a turn on the lights puzzle. The camera is fixed with no spinning angles to get people directionally challenged, bless the developers for that. Background sounds are blended in well, so well they almost go unnoticed. But when you are listening they are quite good. The music often plays over a conversation preventing you from hearing some of what is said. Captions are highlighted at bottom screen so you can read what you may not have heard. Left clicking will skip each conversation piece going directly to the next response. Very helpful if you exhausted the interaction and click on the same selection in the conversation tree. They do not always drop off when you exhausted a query. I suggest since options allow you to turn down the music volume you do that. There are separate controls for voice, music and effects The voice acting is pretty good, not great but there is nothing to annoy. So we have a game with user friendly interface and it is kind to the alt tab or Windows key. The graphics are nice and the voice acting won't cause you to pull out your hair. So far so good.
We begin with puzzles as for the most part they are quite standard. There are a few wrinkles and at least one unique puzzle. I will call it the Dreaded Swamp Pole jumping puzzle. No spoilers as I leave that to your imagination. There are no mazes, but there are too many examine the evidence puzzles. Take heart evidence puzzles are far less than Broken Sword’s pushing the crates activity. At some point these things become tedious. A word of caution, more than once puzzles failed to work on a few applications. Going back to a previous save and doing the same thing they magically worked the second, third or fourth time. The most evil is the dreaded Seed puzzle. You must construct a seed using parts. Mag offers a picture of the completed seed in her walk through found on this site. Even with that the final piece would not catch requiring considerable time sliding that part until the exact pixel was caught. That one is overly frustrating. There are a few random puzzles that do not offer themselves to a walk through solution. There is a combination lock puzzle using symbols rather than numbers. Take heart, no sliders. Most puzzles are of the inventory variety where you put item A with item B and use the resulting item C to open the lock or door etc. I will say in regard to the puzzles none struck me with the feeling it was put there to lengthen the game. Except perhaps a few of those evidence puzzles. The largest concern is how short the first two games were. This one is somewhat longer. Nicole can get killed, though the game auto saves prior to those moments a few time it does not, save often. There is one timed puzzle which is quite complex guaranteed to test you.
The story line is nothing special. Your typical serial killer plot which has pretty much run its course. Some of the dialogue will leave you scratching your head as it does not appear to flow very well. Some responses seem to be inappropriate to the flow of the scene. Perhaps, it is something lost in translation. That speaks to several plot holes, though minor they translate into, “do you expect me to believe that?” One such scene jumps out early in the game. A character is introduced to Nicole. She accepts him at face value not even asking the obvious basic questions. Now anyone who has ever read serial killer stories will at once say, “what the?” The writing is not James Patterson folks. The heart of this genre is the story and characters. The puzzles make it a game and they are ok. A few offered wrinkles to standard fare and were quite creative. Like the pole jumping, you can tell I liked that one. Nicole is stuck with a new partner as her previous one was fired. The new guy is not all that helpful and appears unenthusiastic being stuck with her. The typical boss is the same as in games one and two. Nothing special here and has little interaction. Nicole at the beginning of this story has solved two difficult cases so you can hardly call her a rookie, though she maintains her jump right into it habit. Her vacation is interrupted by a serial killer who appears to have chosen Nicole as his adversary. Why is never fully explained. Fairly typically, Nicole chases the unknown killer through several murders not quite catching him until the last. Yes there are some interesting developments and more than one suspect. It is fairly well connected and should hold your interest unless the serial killer thing has worn thin.
This is a good game well done and entertaining. It appears City attempted to address the short game criticism making an effort to produce a longer work. How do I rate it? I'd say it is better than the first two with improved puzzles and a more complete story. The ending is fairly well done and they avoided an ending action scene where you need quick reflexes. The graphics are comparable as is voice acting to the first two games. Considering you can purchase all three on one disc for the price of one game it is worth a look. Now that the games have been around awhile bargain bin prices make it even more attractive.
Edited by oldmariner (06/14/12 01:55 AM)