those unfamiliar with the Carol Reed series of games, Carol is an
Englishwoman living in Sweden who solves mysteries. The Carol Reed games
are first person point-and-click and make use of photographs of real
people and places instead of pre-rendered graphics or 3D.
The Fall of April starts with Carol meeting her friend Jonas for
coffee. Jonas buys her a cold drink, gives her treadmill lubricant, and
asks her for a favor. He wants her to use her detective skills to find
out what happened to his friend's sister, Andrea Valli, who was found
unconscious and has lost her memory of the previous day. Andrea's
daughter was found dead two years ago and the police never found out
what happened to her. Carol has her mystery to solve. Is there a
connection between the events of the past and Andrea's current
situation? Carol gets to work, following a trail of threatening notes to
discover what happened to Andrea and why.
Carol Reed games always feature some aspect of Swedish history. In
the Fall of April, Carol visits various places the Lourdesville Rock
Carvings, the Coquina Mine Route, the Grand Coral Quarry, the Aviation
Gallery, an off-season ski slope, and various houses and apartments that
belong to characters in the game. She also visits a place labeled the
Suchet Museum. Carol learns about Andrew Suchet's ill-fated trip to the
North Pole by balloon in the early 20th century (1915). The balloon was
named April, after the wife of Andrew Suchet. Hence the title of the
Andrew Suchet may have existed in Carol's reality, but neither the
Wikipedia nor Google in our reality have heard of him in our reality.
Instead the 1915 Suchet expedition in the game seems to have been based
on the failed 1897 polar expedition led by Salomon August Andrée, and
accompanied by Nils Strindberg and Knut Fraenkel. Andrée's balloon was
named Örnen (The Eagle) and not April. Most adventure game fans can
hazard a guess where the name April came from. There are reasons for
changing the explorer's name and the date of the expedition, but to
explain why would probably be spoilers.
The game begins in Carol's apartment, where you can look around and
admire all Carol's adventure games. She seems to be playing Zork Grand
Inquisitor (at least it's sitting out on her desk, ready to go). Carol
enjoys a wide variety of adventure games ranging from the early Sierra
Quest games through puzzlers like RHEM, Schizm, and Myst, through 1990's
FMV like Dracula Unleashed, The Daedalus Encounter, and The Elk Moon
Murders through edutainment like Crusader, Physicus, and Pompeii. She
also dabbles in non-adventure games, like The Nomad Soul, Theme Park
World and Max Payne. It's always fun to look through Carol's collection
of games to see how many you recognize.
Carol keeps her winemaking equipment near her games, and you can hear
the wine-to-be bubbling away when you are in the room.
Starting the game
The game has high definition (1920x1080) and low definition
(1280x720) versions which use separate installation files. Use the one
appropriate for your monitor's maximum resolution.
The first time you start the game a window will pop up confirming
whether your video and sound have been detected correctly. My computer
uses onboard sound and doesn't have a separate sound card, and the game
detected it as "Primary Sound Driver" which worked fine. There
are checkboxes for "Use same resolution as your desktop",
"Run in window", and "Don't show this window again."
Click the OK button to continue starting the game.
After choosing "New Game" you are prompted for whether
you'd like a tutorial or not. The tutorial reviews standard
point-and-click actions such as left-clicking an object to pick it up,
and right-clicking the object in inventory to see a close-up and
description of the object. Inventory is shown along the top of the
screen. Move your mouse to the top of the screen to make it appear. The
tutorial shows you how to combine items and use them in the environment.
The space bar highlights active areas in the game. A long
rainbow-colored crystal lights up in the upper left of the screen when
you find something that opens a new area on the map. When you access the
map after a new location appears, the new location will blink to call
attention to itself. If you are stuck for what to do next, click Carol's
notebook at the left of the Inventory bar to access the Hint system.
Right-clicking the screen brings up the Main Menu. The Main Menu has
Resume, New Game, Load, Save, Options, and Quit. The Options Menu
includes Speech Volume, Music Volume, Effects Volume, and Subtitles On
Manual saving is allowed. The game also autosaves on exit. There
appear to be 108 save slots (9 pages of 12 slots each) but the MDNA
website says there are 100. Perhaps the autosaves use up separate slots.
Recommended to any fan of the Carol Reed games.