I received the game this past Thursday and my 10 year old son and I played it over the long weekend to its conclusion. Overall, this is an enjoyable game. It doesn't have the impact of the first Dark Fall but it is, IMHO, better than Michael's first game, The Harvest.
I played the game on my WIN 2000NT laptop with only an 8MB video card and it ran flawlessly. I am very much appreciative of any game that runs without any glitches on this old machine as well as my iMac. So, you folks with newer, better PC's shouldn't have any trouble getting the game to load up and run. Once you've installed it, you don't need the CD in the drive; it runs right off its own files.
Like The Harvest, this is a game that uses psychological suspense to create the interest in playing it out. The graphics are an improvement over The Harvest but are still basic. The visual depictions of the people involved are done graphically this time instead of FMV and, they are so basic that they somewhat detract from the atmosphere. The voice over work though is quite well done, particularly the actor that does both the voices for Fortrey and Annie's father. The music is unobtrusive and adds to the ambience of the game.
Michael included some interesting and humorous "nods" to the adventure games we have all played. In one instance, the main character is warned that he must locate and rescue his wife in one hour or she will die but, in the next breath, we are told that this one hour is "limitless . . . it is an adventure game after all." Another item I particularly liked was an Inventory Red Herring Analyzer machine. You put in inventory items, it "analyzes" the item and if you don't really need it, it vaporizes it! I wish I had this machine in several games that forced me to drag around useless items.
Without going into the plot because I don't want to give anything away, the reason the hero does what he does is valid to the game but the central meaning of "The Arrangement" is never clearly revealed - - - only alluded to in the clues. You get to explore several different sites and you have to go back and forth between several of them to accomplish the goals and advance to another site.
This back and forth process was the only really tiresome point of the game play. The only way I found to do it was to leave the site I was in and get back to the main menu to select the other site I needed. While you don't have to redo any puzzles you've previously solved in an former site, the overall process detracted from the otherwise excellent and easy game play.
The game is short and none of the puzzles are really too difficult. If you do get stuck, you can refer to an excellent WT by MaG for hints or full blown solutions.
My only other quibble with the game was the ending. Like most adventure games, the ending lacked impact and I found it silly even allowing for the required "suspension of reality" needed to play these games.
All in all, I found Michael's second foray into adventure game design an overall enjoyable game. I'd give an grade of B minus or a 7 out of 10 or 3.5 stars out of 5. I did like it much better than The Harvest in almost every aspect. I look forward to playing his other games as well.
Live by the Golden Rule at all times.