Another day, another
serial killer. “The Card Man” is the moniker of the psychotic who is
responsible for a series of murders across the USA, and whose trademark is
to leave a playing card at the scene of each crime. Nicole receives a
series of parcels from The Card Man, each containing a cryptic clue as to
the location of the next killing. As Nicole and her new partner Dick Parry
find themselves more deeply drawn into the case, it seems that The Card
Man has a grim endgame plan -- and it involves Nicole.
Cards of Destiny
is a third person point and click adventure, with no panning. A left-click
will carry out an action or interact with another character within the
game. Right-clicking on an object or inventory item will enable it to be
examined in greater detail. Items in inventory can be rotated, adjusted
and scrutinised from within their close-up view. The inventory bar appears
when the cursor is moved to the bottom of the game screen. Three icons are
shown at the far right of the inventory bar: the mobile phone which
provides access to the journal, documents, character dialogues and phone
numbers; the question mark which reveals onscreen hotspots and exits; and
the briefcase which will return you to Main Menu (the ESC key offers the
Gameplay is a little
stilted to begin with. Instead of being immediately drawn into the story,
it feels more as though we are pottering around on the edges, unsure as to
what we are meant to be doing and who exactly is this Card Man character
anyway? There are a lot of exterior night locations: a seedy New York
street with an even seedier bar and theatre, a rundown funfair, a deserted
power plant, a farm in Maine, an old lighthouse. When Nicole makes it to
Louisiana during daylight hours and we feel the virtual sun beating down
upon our backs, we breathe a huge virtual sigh of relief. Blue sky!
Nicole, stop squinting, it’s only sunlight, my dear! Before too long we do
begin to feel involved, excited and intrigued by the turn of events -- and
that is the game’s strength, by absorbing and testing the players, by
keeping them sitting in front of their game screen for just 10 minutes… 30
Cards of Destiny’s
graphics are lushly and intricately detailed and full of movement,
interspersed with impressive cut scenes throughout the game. The music is
excellent and atmospheric, fitting to both time and place, very often
foreboding and filled with tension. I did find, however, that it tended on
occasion to drown out dialogue, so I would recommend keeping subtitles
enabled just in case.
There are unlimited save
PLAYING THE JOKER
The puzzles are mostly
inventory based, with some wonderfully surreal combos popping up along the
way. Cross a ferret with a sausage and tie a feather boa to its rear end,
and voila! A perfectly serviceable machine gun. Well, no, not really, but
it’s representative of Cards of Destiny’s endearingly daffy logic.
I didn’t say that was a bad thing now, did I? -- But do prepare to think
outside that metaphorical weather-beaten box. Otherwise you may have
recourse to bang your head against the wall more than is strictly
comfortable or necessary.
There are two shooting
challenges, both with a wavering aim. Nicole seriously needs to lay off
the sherry once in a while. One of the challenges is aimed at a stationary
target, the other at a moving series of objects.
It is possible to die,
and you probably will, so save frequently!
Some things are just sent
to try us. “These items don’t match” / “Not gonna happen” / “Yeah, right”
/ “Nothing doing”. Oh, for all the tea in China and for the sake of my
unravelled sanity, why must Nicole repeat this nonsense sarcastically and
ad nauseam to me? This is cruelly reminiscent of the Chronicles of
Mystery games series -- which City Interactive also develop, and which
has the same quirk. Nicole thinks I am an inept buffoon; my feelings are
52 CARD PICK-UP
It may be possible that
my aging computer needs either a tonic or relegation to the scrap yard.
But although meeting Cards of Destiny’s technical specifications, I
experienced not only long screenload times but also dialogue stutter,
delays when viewing inventory items in close-up, and a couple of crashes
to desktop. Other than that, there were no dead ends or bugs.
Cards of Destiny
is aimed at the gamer who loves a dollop of murky intrigue, a soupcon of
twisting drama, and a generous helping of inventive inventory puzzles.