Carol Reed 13: The Birdwatcher

 

 

Genre:    Adventure 

Developer:   MDNA Games

Publisher:    MDNA Games       

Released:  January 2018              

Requirements (minimum):

 

 

  • OS: Windows 98, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 32/64 bit or Mac OS 10.7 or higher
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Minimum resolution: 1280 x 720
  • Storage: 1 GB

 

 

 

By oldmariner

 

Carol Reed 13: The Birdwatcher

MDNA Games

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 good.

More information can be found at, http://www.mdna-games.com/Birdwatcher/about.htm

Mechanics

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 space.

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.

Summary

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.

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January 2018

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