Art of Murder
It is a standard point and click 3rd person interface where double clicking allows Nicole to run. A right click on objects you examine 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 examine in closeup and that is the field often used to interact with desk, shelves and the like. Several areas require pixel hunting as many items you need are hard to see. However, the designers have included a magnifying glass on the inventory bar to highlight things to examine. The inventory bar is displayed at the bottom of the screen and is not intrusive. You can as is the norm mix items inside your inventory for alternative uses. Here again right clicking is very useful to gain further info on those items. I cannot comment on the number of saves allowed as I had 15. Saves are displayed in pages of eight with an arrow faintly displayed. Click this arrow to change pages, as I had seven saves on page two with one blank I could not forward to page three. Could not determine at a glance if a third page was allowed. I know make a couple more saves dummy and see what happens. Chalk it up to a duh moment as I did not think of that when the game was installed.
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. There are many locations to visit from filthy crime scenes to the jungle of Peru. But you will be happy to note there is not a lot of senseless running back and forth, some yes but minimal. 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 voice acting is pretty good, not great but well done. This is highly appreciated after some of the clunkers I've dealt with lately. Are you listening, Jonathan Boakes? So we have a game with user friendly interface, well almost, it's not alt tab or Windows key friendly, be warned that action can generate a crash. 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 they are quite simple, standard fare, nothing to get excited about. No mazes, but there is a timed puzzle that can cause some pain. Will get to that one later. There are several puzzles that have random solutions where a walk through won't give you the definitive answer. Those are easy enough where a few moments of consideration should resolve it. Most were 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. There are also several where you study evidence collected using lab equipment. I will say in regard to the puzzles none struck me with the feeling it was put there to lengthen the game. In fact the largest concern is how short the game is, it could have been longer. As we all play games at a different rate and obviously the use of a walk through will effect game playing time. This makes it difficult to say it is a certain number of hours long. I'd suggest it is quite similar to Still Life in length. You have a mobile device where you can get and make phone calls and receive messages. This item is always at your beck and call on the inventory bar. Another plus is there is no conversation tree. You click on a person Nicole will ask a question and the person responds. Keep clicking until the conversation repeats. You can stop the repeat by clicking on the character again to skip it. You travel from scene to scene driving Nicole's cool looking sports car. Actually you enter the car and get a map that you click and instantly go there. So no actual driving around like Nancy Drew and that neat blue Roadster. Some complained that when entering the car you can only go to one place. The only choice you have is where the game wants to go. I say to them "get over it, you always complain about needless back tracking and here the developers help you out."
The crux of it all, the story and characters. This is about a rookie FBI agent who is assigned the task of tracking down a serial killer in New York City. She has a phantom partner who we never actually see by the way. There is the typical boss who thankfully does not rant and scream like cop bosses you see in all the movies. With that said he is far short of being warm and cuddly. We have a story and character very similar to Still Life. But unlike Still Life you won't be baking cookies, or fiddling with remote controlled robots. And you actually find out who the killer is. Refreshing isn't it? Nicole is a likable character who has enough sense when searching slums not to wear a short skirt and heels like the lady in Still Life. I don't mean to rag on Still Life I enjoyed that game, but the similarities are there. As to the story, it sounds kind of far fetched to assign a rookie agent with no experience to a high profile case. When you consider her experienced supposed partner is a no show and provided nothing of value it further suggest a suspension of disbelief regarding the plot. But don't dismay as things wind down you discover there was a reason for giving the job to Nicole.
One thing that struck me when firing up the game was our heroine's name, Nicole Bonnet. I read quite a bit about this game before playing it. I was under the impression that Nicole's last name was French. Pronounced as you would imagine ending with an A, Bonet' Nicole Bonet, a French ancestry how cool. The first time I heard the name spoken it came out as Bonett like the hat. I thought it may have been a poor Polish to English translation. Not sure but it certainly blew away the cool name. Back to the plot. There are a few plot holes here but all minor nothing to enrage you. I found one big one but the writers plugged that with a neat set of consequences a bit later successfully blowing up a rant in the making. The story is a long way from original but well done with several suspects. The ending is rather quick but they do wrap it up neatly. Nicole did ask one question at the end that suggested one loose end, but it is nothing major.
Back to the timed puzzle------
Nicole is tied in a chair you have to rock the chair from space to space to get her free. Hit the wrong spot the bad guy comes in and hits her. If he comes in a third time he shoots her. The answer save the game at the start of the puzzle and restart each time you get caught. Mag's walk through lays out the correct route you take. Just restart each time you get caught.
In summary this is a good game well done and entertaining. Though it falls on the shorter side of what I'd like to see it is still worth the play. How do I rate it? I'd say it is as good as Still Life, blasphemy, I know, but no obnoxious cookie puzzles, a complete ending, comparable graphics, voice acting, and equivalent story all add up to it's just as good. No we cannot call it an A+ game. It's not TLJ, GK1 but it is far above many of the clunkers out there. So we will leave it at a Still Life equivalent.