Shades of Black: A Carol Reed Mystery


Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:  MDNA Games

Released:  August 2015

PC Requirements:  

Pentium 1000 MHz or higher

512 MB RAM

minimum resolutin 1280x720

video card with 128MB video RAM

1 GB hard drive space

Windows 98, XP, Vista, 7, 8



by Jenny100


Carol Reed: Shades of Black

Shades of Black is the 11th game in the Carol Reed series. For those unfamiliar with the series, Carol is an Englishwoman living in the Swedish city of Norrköping. She is a writer and aspiring novelist who investigates mysteries. Like all the Carol Reed games, Shades of Black is first person, point-and-click, and uses photographs of real places as backgrounds.


Carol is trying to get her novel "Blue Madonna" published. She receives yet another rejection letter. Then she receives a phone call from the publisher that just rejected her. Have they changed their mind? No such luck. The publisher has the gall to hire her to solve a mystery -- the recent disappearance of one of their bestselling writers, an eccentric whose wife was killed six years ago, and who hasn't finished a book since that time. Coincidentally, a woman was murdered at the same time as the writer disappeared. Is there a connection? Carol receives the keys to the missing man's apartment and gets to work searching for clues to his whereabouts.


As with previous Carol Reed games, backgrounds are made up of photographs, mainly places in and around Norrköping. It is amazing how many interesting places are to be found in the area. Some of these locations include a furniture museum, a brick water tower with a giant chessboard nearby, a sun cannon, an elaborate treehouse where you can pay to spend the night, a suite in a former mine which can be rented for weddings, a deserted house, a rhododendron garden, and various parks, nature trails, and farmlands.

Carol always seems to be having something going on in her apartment. In her 10th game, Carol's apartment was all decked out for Christmas, with gingerbread houses, lighted stars, and seasonal flowering plants. In her 9th game, she was having her bathroom renovated. In Shades of Black, it's her computer room that's being refinished. You can still get a good look at her computer and console games in their temporary location, and perhaps recognize a few adventure games.


Carol's old friends are back. Stina is now running a fruit stand and Carol visits with her long-suffering boyfriend Jonas long enough to pump him for information. Bigge is back too, currently working as the caretaker of a house while the owners are away. Other characters include the publisher, an unexpected victim who manages to escape the culprit, and the writer (though you don't see a whole lot of the writer).


Shades of Black is classic point-and-click adventure. The inventory bar runs along the top of the screen, and appears when you move your mouse over it. You can get a close-up of inventory items by right-clicking on them. Some items can be turned over, and this is indicated by an arrow. If you get stuck, there is a very helpful Hint feature that will tell you what to do next. The Escape key takes you to the Main Menu, from which you can save, load, and exit. In case you forget to save, the game will automatically save when you exit.

The Options Menu allows you to toggle subtitles and provides separate volume controls for voice, sound effects, and music.

The game starts with a tutorial, which you can skip if you want to. The instructions show you how to use inventory by having Carol pick up a paintbrush, use it on a paint can, and apply a single stroke of paint to the computer room wall. After that, Carol apparently gets bored and refuses to do any more painting. At this rate, it's going to be a long time before she finishes renovating her computer room.


Most puzzles are inventory based. Some puzzles involve gathering clues or objects before being able to solve a puzzle. When you find a code or number that you need for a puzzle, Carol will generally collect a piece of paper with the information so you don't have to write it down. Some of the puzzles take the form of riddles left by the bad guy.

Sometimes Carol has to figure out how to get through locked doors or into locked boxes. A variety of methods may be used. Carol may find or steal a key, or she may impersonate someone in order to gain admittance. Though she generally finds non-destructive solutions, she isn't above using brute force when the situation warrants it.

Download Only

Shades of Black is the first Carol Reed game that will only be available by download – no DVD version. In the words of developer Mikael Nyqvist, "Unfortunately, due to new and complex EU regulations regarding digital sales, I don’t think we’ll be able to sell the new game on both disc and as a digital download."  

There will be cover art provided, so if you have the equipment, you'll be able to create your own DVD-cased game. Unfortunately I'll be stuck with a basic silver disc with black Sharpie scribble that looks pretty much like every other disc I've ever burned. 

There are two versions of the game, an HD version with high resolution graphics and a version with a lower resolution. Those who purchase through the mdna website will have a choice of downloading either or both versions. The one with higher resolution is recommended if your monitor has a resolution of 1920x1080 or higher. The low resolution version is for monitors with a resolution between 1280x720 and 1920x1080. There are demos for both versions. Since my monitor is 1920x1200, I played the HD version.


According to the website, "The game contains no graphic violence or swearing. It has no action sequences, and is suitable for ages 15 and up. You can't die in the game." This is all true. However to be more specific, and since some people objected to the religious paintings by Hieronymus Bosch in the previous game (which contained Bosch's unique depictions of Hell), I will mention that there are several paintings (and photographs of paintings) of nude women by Swedish painter Anders Zorn (1860-1920). There are also suggestions that the bad guy was into bondage as well as murder.


I don't know if this game was easier or shorter, but it took me less time to complete Shades of Black than the previous Carol Reed games I've played. I still had fun following Carol around on her latest case and would recommend the game to any Carol Reed fans who aren't put off by any of the things I mentioned in the Comments section.

Grade: A-

Minimum requirements:

·        Windows 98, XP, Vista, 7, or 8

·        Pentium 1000 or higher

·        512 MB RAM

·        128 MB video card

·        monitor with a minimum resolution of 1280x720

I played the HD version of the game on a computer with:

·        Windows 8.1 Professional, 64-bit

·        AMD Phenom II X4 905e processor 2.51 GHz

·        8 GB RAM

·        AMD Radeon HD 7770 with 2 GB VRAM

·        ATI High Definition Audio Device (onboard sound)




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