Blue Madonna: A Carol Reed Mystery


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   MDNA Games

Publisher:    MDNA Games, The Adventure Shop

Released:  January 2011

PC Requirements:   2K/XP/Vista/Windows 7, Pentium 1000 or higher, 128 MB RAM, 16 MB video card, 800 MB free hard drive space.




by Rushes


Somebody is stalking the artist Christina Falk. Living in fear since her home was intruded by the mystery figure, she contacts Carol Reed for help. They arrange to meet at Christina’s art studio, but Christina dies at her home on the night before the appointment. Was it suicide, or something rather more sinister? Suspicions aroused, Carol determines to discover what led to the tragedy, and in doing so uncovers an intriguing piece of history which she cannot leave alone. Blue Madonna is the seventh outing in the Carol Reed Mystery adventures by developers MDNA Games.

Norrköping heatwave

In keeping with the same user-friendly interface as the most recent games in the series, Blue Madonna offers the player an optional beginner’s tutorial on the mechanics of movement and inventory usage. There is also an invaluable objective and hints notebook at the corner of your screen which never fails to put you on the right track should you become temporarily disorientated. The photographic style of gameplay is first person point and click, with no panning. Subtitles are available, and there are unlimited save slots.

The in-game map sprawls far and wide as new locations spring up like a pan full of popping corn. I counted 21. That’s a lot. At times I found myself losing track of the story and what the hecky-thump I was supposed to be doing next, due to the sheer overwhelming volume of places, spaces and greenery. I found it essential to note-take, and frequently, otherwise I would have lost track of which mysterious locked door was where; and where was that wall panel again and that cupboard with the box?

The one solid, immovable and admirable trait of the Carol Reed adventures is exploration, Exploration, EXPLORATION; much of it being solitary. Streets and buildings are largely devoid of human contact as Carol prowls in search of clues. We scour attractive domiciles, rundown fleapits, neglected factories, museums and a generous batch of exteriors. So much to see and scrutinise, you might need to sit back and take a few deep breaths. You’ll likely find yourself revisiting certain areas several times over in search of a vital whosit which you just know has to be around here somewhere, because otherwise how on earth are you going to be able to crack open such-and-such a whatnot? Blue Madonna offers freewheeling nonlinear play in a beguilingly scenic fashion.

If you’re in the mood for a mid-game pretzel, well then, don’t count on Stina to provide you with one. No longer in the bread and sticky bun biz, she has recently taken over her father’s tobacco shop. Chewing tobacco might be tricky to obtain but you’re welcome to a pack of 20 menthols anytime. Hello there, mad janitor! Wonderful to see you again, sir. Greetings, poor ill-used Jonas! It seems that Carol has driven you to drink with her neglect. (Somehow I don’t think they’ll be canoodling over another picnic anytime soon.)

Puzzle boxes and doors galore

Blue Madonna breaks no new ground within the series’ tried and tested style of puzzling. There will be frequent need to work out ways to gain access to various rooms, with or without a key. There are also plentiful mysteriously coded boxes which must be opened somehow by cracking riddles scattered hither and thither throughout. There’s the occasional inventory combo. Perhaps a little more variety would have resulted in a more puzzleicious experience, but then again if standalone puzzles in general don’t float your boat, you’ll likely have a beatific smile on your face whilst reading this.

There are no timed sequences, no mazes or sliders. There is one tone puzzle, with the benefit of additional hints becoming available if too much time is spent in bafflement over it.

“You stepped on my face…”

The voice work by the native English speakers among the cast is still mostly of the cardboard cut-out variety, with any inflection in the wrong place as likely as not, and too many awkward pauses. It’s an experience similar to sitting at the back of a classroom and listening to a group of reluctant schoolchildren taking it in turns to read aloud from a book which they have no real comprehension of and actually couldn’t care very much about. Bizarrely enough, it manages to gel with the janitor who is such an obviously oddball character that the stilted intonation somehow suits rather than detracts from him. Dialogue in Blue Madonna is relatively sparse, so this perhaps is not as huge a problem as it potentially could be, although it still is a mood killer in this gamer’s eyes.

Glitchy bits

Blue Madonna installed and played smoothly from start to finish, with no bugs, glitches or dead ends.

Overall, a pleasing mystery that’s perfect for relaxing with and rootling around in, while continuing to enjoy the sights of sunny Norrköping.

Grade: B+

I played on:

Windows XP Media Center Edition SP3

Intel[R] CPU T2050 @ 1.60GHz

2.00 GB of RAM

NVIDIA GeForce 7500 LE, 512MB

Blue Madonna can be purchased via download from The Adventure Shop  or on disk from the game's website.


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