Hope Springs Eternal




Genre:   Point & Click Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    MDNA Games

Released:  October 2005

PC Requirements:   Pentium 800 or higher, 64 MB RAM, 8 MB video card, 500 MB free hard drive space,
Win 98, but 2000 or XP is recommended.








by Becky


As Hope Springs Eternal begins, Carol Reed is writing a letter to her Swedish landlady. Although Carol is originally from England, she is finding that Sweden holds an enduring fascination – not to mention the chance to develop her skills as a private detective. Carol’s first mystery adventure (chronicled in the game Remedy) involved investigating the death of a friend, Conrad Vogel.  In Hope, Carol is a bit older, wiser, and more prosperous.  (Just peek in the refrigerator in each game to see proof.)  Carol has taken over Conrad’s detective agency in the historic town of Norrköping, and is looking forward to trying her hand at another serious case.

What a Rare Mood I’m In

Stepping into Hope Springs Eternal is like stepping into one of those perfect days where the world is drenched in sunlight and the birds are singing and you realize that you are in love with life.  Of course euphoria doesn’t last long, and soon enough in Hope you will realize that paradise can become a prison.  But until you stumble across evidence that something is rotten, paradise is quite a nice place in which to stroll, smelling the roses as you go.

The environments in Hope are filled with glowing light and vivid, saturated colors.  The painterly effects from Remedy are displayed more deftly here.  Almost every screen contains objects with differing resolutions, giving the eye more to dwell on and appreciate.    Even dark places are beautiful, with multiple points of darkened color like a pointillist painting.  

Hope also contains unexpected places to visit.   For instance, there’s a junkyard -- yes, a junkyard -- where the painterly effects set off an explosion of tortured shapes and hues.  Rust looks like neon mottling, tire treads like snake scales, hubcaps like piles of tinker toys.  Admittedly, the mud still looks like ordinary mud.  (Sadly, not even Hope can make mud attractive.)  I thought the graphics were wonderful with one exception – the interiors of the Lofstad castle, where I would have liked to have seen the furnishings in more detail.   

Prepare for Groupies in the Graveyard

As for the individuals who inhabit this world, they’re colorful too.  Quirky, oddball, imperfect.  There’s the caretaker with body piercings.  The sockless junkyard Romeo, and the meditative museum staffer with a bead stuck on her forehead.  In what is becoming a star turn, the graveyard worker from Remedy reprises his role.  He has a new haircut, he’s finally awake and somehow he manages to make wielding a hoe look glamorous.  In Hope Springs Eternal, glamour in a graveyard seems almost normal. 

Hope uses photo stills of the characters – you see them in a series of different postures and with different expressions as they speak.  I suppose that video footage of the characters would add a more professional gloss to the game, but I doubt it would significantly improve the characterizations, which are wacky but effective.

Most of the voice acting is acceptable, helped along by the pleasing Swedish inflection in many of the voices.  Sara Louise Williams, the actor who plays Carol Reed, has a lovely, broad British accent that’s quite easy on the ears.  (Disclosure: one of the voice actors is a staff member at GameBoomers.)


Like Remedy, Hope Springs Eternal plays from a first person perspective, using a point-and-click interface without 360 degree panning.   There are significant improvements here – the viewing area is now full screen, the cursor is easier to see and use, the music suits the mood even better, and the game is longer.

You navigate around the gameworld in Hope using a map of the area with designated locations to visit.  Dialog with the characters takes place using a notebook with various dialog selections in it.  You interact with the game world through the cursor, which becomes a hand icon for things you can pick up or use, and a gear icon for places you can apply inventory items.  The inventory screen appears when you place the cursor above the viewing area.  The inventory is very easy to use.

The music in Hope is sometimes haunting, and other times full of energy.  It features unusual sounds and rhythms, and is richer than in the previous game.  It doesn’t intrude, but if you turn the music down, the game’s atmosphere is noticeably diminished. 

Loss of Eden

I enjoyed the story in Hope, which contains a logical explanation as to why cryptic clues are scattered across the landscape.  This is not an Agatha Christie-like tale with elaborate hints and red herrings, but a gradual revelation of the events that have led to a perplexing disappearance.  By game’s end, though, I’m glad to say there is a touch of Agatha Christie-like romance.

Truthfully, it comes as something of a surprise that conflict exists here at all.  I sometimes wonder why the characters don’t spend their lives dumbstruck by the beauty around them.  Still, there’s no law saying that evil can’t lurk in lovely surroundings, and greed, heartache and revenge can be right at home in the midst of blissful illusions.

Getting to the Matter at Hand

Hope contains an entertaining variety of puzzles.  Some are inventory based, some are observational, some interpretive.  There are also button pushing challenges, plus a sequence much like a treasure hunt.  The most difficult puzzles can be bypassed if you become stuck and frustrated – a nice feature.  There aren’t any pixel hunts in the game, but it is necessary to explore your surroundings from every possible angle.  There are a few items that become “hot” and can only be picked up after a certain trigger in the game.  The passage of time also becomes important.  Some things change as the investigation continues, so it’s important to check back in places you’ve visited before. 

Although the challenges in Hope are not the most noteworthy part of the game, they support the game’s obvious strengths and keep you thinking and guessing – and solving them is rewarding.

Quick List for Hope Springs Eternal

First person, point-and-click mystery adventure.  A sequel to Remedy, Hope Springs Eternal is deeper, more mature, and more satisfying.  Extremely colorful, unusual graphics.  Intriguing plot, quaint characters, brief character interaction.   

Inventory, mechanical, and observation puzzles.  One slider, one mild timed puzzle, no sound puzzles, no mazes, no puzzles requiring color discrimination.  You can choose to bypass the five toughest puzzles.  You can’t die in the game.

The game installed smoothly and played without a glitch.  After installation, you don’t need to keep the CD in the CD ROM drive. Unlimited save slots.

Many Easter Egg-like references to the adventure gaming community, including references to GameBoomers.  J 

Hope Springs Eternal is aimed at fans of Remedy and at gamers who like to explore unusual surroundings, listen to contemplative music, and converse with offbeat characters – all the while investigating a mystery that’s interwoven through it all.

Hope Springs Eternal is an Independent production of MDNA games, and can be purchased from the MDNA website here.



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