The Game Maker












Genre: Adventure  

Developer & Publisher:  MDNA Games          

Released: January 2023             

Requirements:  Operating System, Windows 7 or newer or MAC OS 10.12

or newer

Processor: Any processor

Memory:  4 GB of RAM or 8 GB of RAM if possible

Storage:  2 GB available space










By flotsam

The Game Maker (Carol Reed #18)

MDNA Games

A new year, a new Carol Reed game. Quite literally. There has been a fairly consistent annual release since I first stepped out with Carol in 2004’s Remedy. She is still solving mysteries, still in and around Norkopping in Sweden, and given her longevity is clearly making a good fist of the investigation caper.

There is murder afoot, and a missing person. Eager to make some money for her upcoming vacation, Carol agrees to help Dalton Jonson investigate the recent disappearance of his wife, Daria. Carol's investigation soon reveals that an elusive video game designer seems to have a very hostile attitude towards Daria. In a series of eccentric and unsuccessful games, the game designer is taking responsibility for three recent brutal murders: Three men who were sedated, strangled, and placed in public locations with their hands tied behind their backs.

Its hard to know what to say that hasn’t already been said about Carol’s adventures. For fans, its enough to know that The Game Maker follows the same mechanics as the others. Apart from the tale, you will get more of what you like, packaged in the same way. I suspect by now you will have left and be playing, if you even needed to get this far 😊

For possible newbies, read on!

First off, feel free to jump in with this one. You don’t need to have played any others, and there is no continuing tale you need to catch up on. All the games I have played have been self-contained, so no prior knowledge is necessary.

With respect to gameplay, it is first person point and click, played exclusively with the mouse. The game offers you a tutorial at the start on how to go about things should you want it. Photos of real people and places are used to create the game world, and you click your way through, point to point, looking for items and clues to move on. At each point you can turn left and right, and perhaps also move forward or occasionally look/move in another direction.

Each screen is a single static image, explored with the mouse. Usefully, the space bar will reveal all hotspots. I say usefully because finding all sorts of items in disparate locations is part and parcel of Carol’s perambulations and if you are like me you will miss some. That the space bar could generate the little eye icon that says ‘here is something to look at’ came in very handy.

You could do that every step of the way, but it would detract a tad from your own detectoring. I tended to use it when I thought I might have missed something, or when I knew that I had and just wanted to find it. That might well have been in response to a hint, accessed through the journal you carry. Be warned that a hint will often be an almost total solve, but it also ensures you don’t aimlessly wander around locations looking for an item you don’t really know that you need in the hope that finding it will help.

I do think this aspect of the game could be managed a bit differently. How I don’t know, and kudos to the maker for providing a way forward, but somewhere in between ‘I have no idea what I am looking for’ and ‘it's at this location over there’ perhaps?

Of course, if I had searched thoroughly in the first place it wouldn’t be an issue, so that’s on me. And the way the hint works prevents the wandering once you want to stop wandering; for instance, on one occasion a new location opened up and came up as the next objective in the journal (another useful feature) and the related hint was something along the lines of ‘there is an item at x location I need to get first.’ So off I went, and again, well done to the maker.

While I am asking for things, there are some sound and some colour puzzles. None of them are hard, but on a personal note my ability to tell the difference between similar colours is becoming more difficult. Can we have e.g., stripes, dots etc instead of colours? Or at least stark differences.

As well as the treasure hunting aspects, there are numerous puzzle boxes and other code words or combinations to solve, and these all have the clues in the environment, provided you can recognise them. The clue might not be straightforward, or might consist of a few different parts, but it is there if you can find and discern it.

Be sure to look for all possible ways to move forward. Sometimes it might be e.g., through brush, with no apparent pathway, or off to the left or right a bit. The space bar can help here. Also, turning to look in each direction might enable you to see something new. Even big things might not be visible until you turn in that particular direction, and the hotspots only occur in the screen you are looking at. So even if you can ‘see’ something relevant in your peripheral vision, it won’t be active until you are looking directly at it.

Locations are available on your map, and new ones will be added as you uncover information. There are quite a few, but some will drop off as the game moves on. The map isn’t in your inventory, but is accessed once you exit a location. Each location only has one such point, and you will need to make your way back to it to access a different location, so take note of where it is.

Take note too of puzzles you might not be able to solve, or items you might be able to pick up, but not take. Carol needs things later on, but doesn’t carry everything with her, so there will be times you will need to go back and get something you found earlier. I confess I squealed in mild frustration on one such occasion when in the middle of investigating one area Carol decided she needed a particular item, but at least knowing where I had found said item made its retrieval fairly straightforward.

The game does a fair bit of sending you hither and yon, and with your own backtracking to look for clues you might have missed you will be well familiar with the locations by game’s end. Bring good shoes.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the title, there is a game within this game, one that you access through the PC in Carol’s house. Like the game more broadly, don’t expect to know everything all at once to be able to complete it. There are numerous puzzles and conundrums throughout The Game Maker that you will have to come back to for want of information or an item. Some items will also become interactive once you have relevant information, so again it pays to be aware of more than just the ‘animate’ items. It’s an aspect I particularly like.

There were things to do with the inventory items I wouldn’t have thought of, especially in combination, but I say that about most inventories. You might have a different experience.

You can save at will, play with subtitles or not, and tweak various settings. When conversing with another character you don’t hear Carol speak, rather you read her side of the conversation but hear the other character’s response. Needless to say she gets to the bottom of things and ultimately gets her vacation.

Bring on #19.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz

RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB



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