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.
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
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.
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
GameBoomers Review Guidelines