COLD CASE SUMMER
A CAROL REED MYSTERY
There are three
things in life of which one can be certain. That a British winter will
always last for eight months of the year; that lychees are toothsome
fare; and that a Carol Reed adventure game will inevitably be bright,
alive and visually sumptuous.
Hey! A new Carol Reed adventure
is out. Cold Case Summer. It's bright and alive and the other
thing too. It's also the ninth game in the enduring series by developers
In this most recent instalment,
Carol is contacted by “X”, a mysterious gentleman who promises Carol
fame and fortune if she listens to what he has to say and accepts his
extraordinary case. Carol feels ill at ease with all the secrecy, and
refuses. Unfortunately, “X” is found murdered soon after their curtailed
meeting. An open case – that of the 1986 assassination of the then
Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme – raises its head, and Carol resolves
to take up the mystery on her own terms, which is not without personal
Carol's pipes have gone doolally
and her bathroom has been gutted. Guess who comes in to put things
right. No, not him, the other one. I do enjoy the recurring characters
from previous games, even if they don't have much to do other than
frustrate or humour Carol. Jonas's phone number is on Carol's speed
dial. “I don't have time for him now,” she hoots, as she zips around
Norrkӧping in the car she just borrowed from the poor man after barely
more than a “Hello!”.
Similarly, the game mechanics
remain a constant, with welcome improvements added over time. There is
still the optional tutorial and the notebook with its useful hints. The
most valuable new addition is the exit and hotspot alert which may be
accessed by pressing the space bar. With so many camera viewpoints and
frequent and partially hidden items, this proves to be an absolute boon
in ensuring that everything has been collected before moving forward
from any location.
The environments are beautiful,
as always. Photographed exteriors explore areas that we have never seen
before: stark, sandy and rock-strewn land with crumbling, graffitied
architecture; waterside leisure spots with rough wooden-meshed
constructions for climbing and for passing through. We roam domestic
interiors: a delight to see the lived-in mess and clutter quite as much
as the tidy and spotless.
Dialogue is kept to a minimum,
and the gameplay for the most part is solitary, in first person point
and click, with no panning. A right click brings up the options menu.
There are unlimited save slots.
The story itself is absorbing,
with its base in a shocking true crime which out-reaches to bring the
player into contact with new characters, heroes and villains.
The voicework is another matter.
I've always found it difficult to warm to the several native
English-speaking actors in this series, finding them wooden and
lifeless, any inflection usually misplaced. Nine games in and I'm about
getting used to it. There's enough else that's truly good about the
series to keep me playing.
Cold Case Summer
gives us tried and tested puzzling by way of various boxes and cabinets
that require unlocking but have no key with which to do so. There are
some inventory combinations. General observation and logic is important
in order to solve a couple of the problems.
There are no timed puzzles, no
sliders or mazes and no sound puzzles.
The game installed and played
A solid entry in the Carol Reed
canon, then. One that I would recommend highly for its plot and
panorama, its charm and its enjoyably unique style.
I played on:
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1
AMD A6-3650 APU @ 2.60GHz
4.00 GB of RAM