Carte Blanche: For a Fistful of Teeth

 
 

 

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    Absurdus

Publisher:   G2 Games

Released:  December 2006

PC Requirements:   Pentium III / Athlon 900 MHz, 256MB RAM, 400MB hard drive space, Directx9

 

 

 

 

 

by nickie

Writing a review of this game reminds me very much of looking at a painting of modern art in a museum. I know it has artistic merit; I know it will have appeal for those who like that particular style of art, and I know it has symbolic undertones of biting social commentary that I cannot appreciate. But I also know that I donít like it, and Iím going to quickly move on to the classical works of art down the hall. In that fashion, let me proceed.

Carte Blanche is executed in a film noir style. What is film noir? Briefly, it is a cinematic term that was coined to describe old Hollywood crime dramas that were made in black and white and contained moral ambiguity and essentially pessimistic views of the world. Crime is almost always an element; crime investigation is the usual plot. The tone is bleak and the world is depressingly corrupt. The hero is thrust into the position through no desire of his own and must delve into the situation at hand, which almost always has a dark conclusion.

Carte Blanche has captured the essence of film noir. From an artistic point of view it has succeeded. For those people who have bemoaned the fact that there are few highbrow offerings in gaming media, this oneís for you. It may be destined to be one of those games that in years to come will be worth a gazillion dollars on eBay when it is in scarce supply. While it may be an artistic marvel, most of us that play games are more concerned with having a game that is fun to play. That is where this game falls short.

Absurdus, the developers who created this game, offered us Eye of the Kraken in 2002. That game was a fresh look at the adventure genre, with zany off-beat characters and funny dialogue that made it a delight to play. It gently mocked adventure games and the world. The gentle nudge became a slap with Carte Blanche.

The Story:

Montreal, 1924. A melting pot of immigrants and unemployment is high. Prohibition in the United States has led to an inpouring of those seeking alcohol and other vices, and the easy waterway access has led to a counterculture of illegal activity.

Enter our character, Edgar Delacroix. He is highly educated but naÔve in worldly matters, and his family has sent him to the big city to ďmake a manĒ of him. Gaining employment is necessary to his survival, so he takes on a job for which he has no prior experience -- private investigator. He is given two minor cases to learn the tricks of the trade, but scarcely has he begun when events spin out of control and he finds himself investigating a murder case that touches him personally.

Luckily for him he has a wealth of characters from which he can draw information and experience, including a few characters with items that are necessary to progress in his investigation. From the landlady pressing her ear to the locked bathroom containing a disenchanted poet, to the androgynous secretary with a fixation on her pet iguana, from the obese naked Russian mobster, to the corrupt priest -- Edgar must travel between these and other assorted misfits to successfully complete his case.

Game Mechanics:

The viewpoint changes back and forth between first and third person perspective.

The point and click interface is a simple one. You left click on items or characters, and a text menu appears with actions possible (including dialogue choices or inventory items where appropriate). If your selection is not the correct choice, you can then select another choice, and so on. Each location consists of a single screen with no panning or scrolling, so there is little chance you will miss any objects.

There are a limited number of inventory items to acquire.  Once they are in inventory, the game automatically selects them as a clickable option when it is the appropriate place to use them in the game. On a couple of occasions I had the item in inventory which I knew I needed for a situation, but it would not appear as an option until I triggered its use by a dialogue elsewhere.

Movement between locations is also simple. You exit the scene, and a map appears with locations available. Your actions or dialogue will add new locations as the game progresses.

Right clicking during the game will bring up an additional menu with tabs to select to view your inventory, Edgarís resume, case descriptions, game options and the save screen. You can left click to view each entry and receive further information and possibly clues.

Edgarís resume shows you his skills in such things as spying, persuasion, scamming and ventriloquism. As you play through the game your actions add to these skills. For instance, if you click on a window, you may add a point in spying. If you click on a bell, it may increase your musical ability. When you left click on characters or certain items during the game, one of these skill options may appear, and your level of competency in that skill will affect the success of what you are trying to accomplish. It is necessary to have a high level in some skills to complete the game. 

At the end of the game you have an option to save these skills for further episodes of Carte Blanche.

I encountered no bugs or glitches.

Puzzles:

There are essentially no puzzles in this game. You do have to obtain a few items, and you eventually have to select the correct option of available choices in dialogue or interaction. Therefore, if you havenít progressed in the game, all you have to do is visit the limited number of locations and select whichever option you didnít previously choose. On the positive side, if you donít like mazes, sliders, timed or action bits, the game doesnít have them. While this may seem a fresh idea at the beginning of the game, I wearied of it towards the end, where I had to go from location to location to increase inane skill levels. There is no thinking required, and to me it felt a lot like sorting laundry.

Visuals and Sound:

As I mentioned previously, this is completed in a film noir style -- black and white, and somewhat grainy and stark. There is a zany art style to the characters that is not unappealing. It is not full screen.

There is little music in the game. A few strums of the guitar here and there. There are a few assorted background sounds.

The dialogue is voiced, from the somewhat charming main character to the painful screech of the secretary, which I am assuming was intended by the developers. There are subtitles throughout and the game can be played in either French or English. For those curious, the secretary is agonizing to the eardrums either way.

Odds and Ends (Mostly Odd):

The game takes a jab at the world through racial and ethnic stereotyping; America as ďbig brother,Ē and morality and legality issues in what I am supposing is an attempt to be humorous. It isnít.

There are obscenities sprinkled throughout the game, and one instance of nudity.

This is the first game in a proposed series. While it is a self-contained game, there is a background story that will tie the episodes together. The skills you gain in the first episode can be saved for the next episode.

Summing It Up:

Writing a review of this game reminds me very much of looking at a painting of modern art in a museum. I know it has artistic merit, but I also know that I donít like it, and Iím going to quickly move on to the classical works of art down the hall. In that fashion, let me close.

Grade: C

January 2007

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