This game recently released is available as digital download for PC
or Mac on the developerís website. There are two versions from which
you can choose a high definition or a standard one. My standard version
is a pre-release download file. Two game files are available. One is
called High definition for screen resolutions at 1920 x 1080 or above.
The second that I used for this review is for monitors 1280 x 720 and
above. My monitor setting was 1600 x 900 and the graphics were very
More information can be found at, http://www.mdna-games.com/Birdwatcher/about.htm
Upon opening, The Birdwatcher offers you the option to play in a
window by clicking a box. You are also offered a choice between 16 bit
or 32 bit color. A third box offers an option to use your desktop screen
resolution. If you select the third box the game may cut off parts of
the scene depending upon what your desktop is set at. If that is the
case simply restart the game and uncheck that box. Upon opening, an
interactive tutorial appears to explain how to play the game. It is
fairly standard for an Adventure game but it is advisable to view it to
familiarize yourself with local controls. It also serves as a check to
verify links are working.
Like previous Carol Reed games, this is a first person point and
click adventure. You can save or load a prior game point at any time and
there are many save slots. Speaking of saves they are located (at least
in Windows 7) at
Users/User Name/Saved Games/The Birdwatcher SD
for the standard definition version or
Users/User Name/Saved Games/The Birdwatcher HD
for the high definition version. Sweeping your mouse to the top of
the screen you will find your inventory. Right clicking on the objects,
in inventory, will bring them up in close-up view for reading notes and
the like. You will at times need to combine objects by dragging one onto
another in inventory.
Right clicking on the game screen will pull up the Menu screen, as
will using the ESC key. The Choices offered are Resume, New Game,
Load, Save, Options, Quit. The Options selection allows you
to tweak volume controls via a slider to adjust Speech, Music, and
Effects. There is a checkbox to turn subtitles off or on. The
default is set to on. Carolís notebook is placed in the inventory to
provide hints in case you are stuck. This note book reveals only the
next step, however it serves as a walkthrough for the game. Another aid
is the spacebar that when pressed reveals a sceneís hot spots. You
will need it. Regarding the mechanics of the game my version ran
smoothly without a single glitch and it does not hog a lot hard drive
Graphics & Sound
As with previous editions of this series the background scenes are
still photographs. During my writing a review of Profound Red a prior
Carol Reed release, the gameís creator, Mikael Nyqvist, advised photos
were taken by him. He deserves credit for an excellent photographic eye.
The stills are very pleasing to view. This holds true for The
Birdwatcher as well. I spent a lot of time doing nothing other than
viewing the photos. My only complaint is in the voice acting. It would
be improved greatly if the speakers would demonstrate emotion suitable
for their lines. Anger, fear or concern in some form will be a great
improvement. Recognizing professional voice acting is expensive, this
modest change would serve to improve an already very good game. It is
just that I noticed during a few conversations something was lacking.
Visually this is a very appealing game. Conversations are minimal and
Carol through her progress makes infrequent audible observations. The
music track in the background is not distracting and is quite pleasant.
I found it somewhat relaxing.
Story & Game Play
This is the thirteenth stand alone game in the popular Carol Reed
mystery series. In this adventure Carol investigates the disappearance
of a friendís neighbor. There is no graphic violence or vulgar
language and no quick responses are required.
Puzzles primarily draw upon logic and reasoning, such as how do I
open this box? Oh I need a number code now where do I find that? What do
I do with this key? There are no quick action dexterity moves you must
make and none of your searching requires rushing. You wonít be
challenged in that regard except once toward the end and even then the
game allows plenty of time to think. If you are stuck, the hint notes
will tell you exactly what to do and your opponent will wait while you
figure it out.
There are multiple locations offering many venues to explore. I did
not count them all but they offer a reasonable length of game play. I
spent two to three hours in each sitting over four days to complete the
game. I admit to liberal use of the offered hints. I suggest you avoid
using the hints unless you are completely lost.
Some objects you will need are not revealed to you until you know you
need them. If you did not know you needed it then you couldnít pick it
up. This requires you to go back to where you first noticed the object,
get it and return. There are a couple of puzzles that tax your thinking.
A box you need to open requiring aligning six jewels featured on a
bracelet comes to mind. It is a simple box with colored buttons you must
push in proper order. Determining a proper sequence is a real test.
Does the Adventurerís bane, the dreaded maze lurk somewhere ready
to pounce? There are none so to speak, but a few locations have enough
rooms that may lead you to distraction as orientation can be confusing
when trying to find your way. Technically they are not mazes but the
effect acts that way.
The Birdwatcher stays true to both the Carol Reed universe regarding
story line and the quality of game play. It does not telegraph who the
guilty party is and you are likely to guess incorrectly, which makes the
game all the better. Typically when solving a mystery you can guess the
identity of the villain. For me the wrap up came as a surprise. You wonít
find any spoilers here. So sit back take your time enjoying excellent
scenery and marvel at the detail illustrated in the outdoor scenes and
those of fine homes along with deteriorating barns, etc. The combination
of relaxed searching, soothing background music and fine graphics,
created an enjoyable adventure. It wonít tax your system.
I played with a GT240 2 gig video card and could have gotten by with
much less. From my experience The Birdwatcher is well worth playing.