(A visit to the dark side)
I believe that Microids is one of the finest developers of adventure games
out there right now. What a legacy of impressive games: Amerzone, Road To
India, Syberia and now Post Mortem. After the release of Syberia - there
were two games that I thought had the most promise judging by their site
teasers, pre-release game shots and general around the web buzz. Post
Mortem was one of these games.. The US release by Dreamcatcher is coming
soon, but due to a few Canadian distributors, Post Mortem has trickled
into the hands of my self and a few other gamers. So what was all the
excitement about and how did the developers do. Iíll start this review
with a resounding - yes! Post Mortem lived up to itís hype, with a few
caveats. As for how it did this - hmmmm letís examine the evidence.
The game is installed, you start it up - suddenly you are soaring down
into the city of Paris. However - you quickly learn, this isnít the Paris
of lights. No.. this is the dark side of the city and itís people. The
music and faded graphics are classic Film Noir. A couple arrives at a
hotel. Enraptured with each other, they pay scant attention to those
around them. Laughing, they go up to their rooms. Flinging clothing and
cares to the floor, they quickly tumble into bed. They startle at a sound
and sit up mesmerized by what they see. What happens next sets the stage
for this horror tinged detective tale. In these brief visual flashes, we
know that a fiend of unknown and hidden identity has committed a ghastly
murder with fevered violence. Who were this silenced victims and what is
going on. These are just a few of the mysteries in this game. This is a
story of uncertainties. Who were the victims? Why were they killed? Who
are the people in this plot? Who can you trust? Anyone - perhaps no one.
Such begins the tale of our reluctant detective and jaded hero.
Act 1: The Usual Suspects...
I would normally start with the look of the game - but in this case, the
characters are too good to wait. Our hero is an artist/detective. He is an
American of uncertain background. How he came to Paris may not be
important - or is it? There is a difference in him and it is not just an
artists eyeÖ He sees things, things that will be or maybe echoes of what
was. He has friends or perhaps acquaintances would be a more apt term.
Bebe, the hostess at the Alambic Bistro, Itís proprietor, Hulot, a man
of easy ethics and questionable motives. There is another, Hellouin, who
has been prying into the lives of others. An ally or perhaps a suspect or
worse. And then of course the client, Sophia Blake. For in any seedy
detective tale there is always a client. A beautiful woman, with secrets
to hide - who may or may not pay her bill. The characters are engrossing
in Post Mortem. The main character has a world weary tone to his voice, I
thought it seemed perfect for the plot and surroundings. The remainder of
the cast are well acted and fleshed out.
Act 2: The Plot Thickens...
The story in this game is definitely one of itís strong points. That is
saying a great deal - as I think Post Mortem is the finale to the Microids
slam dunk started by the release of Syberia. . You have to look hard to
find weak points in this game. Curiously there are two distinct layers to
this games plot. There is the over riding plot line and then there is a
thread that weaves itís way through out the game - altered by varied
choices you make through out your game play. It was very hard to
articulate this feature - but I will try to describe it in more detail in
a moment. In any event, there are twists and turns in this game, some will
be anticipated others will surprise. The good guy bad guy line in this
game is also murky at best. Some "friends" are far from perfect and
probably can not be trusted too far. I love a horror tinged plot, with
supernatural overtones. There are of course the predictable conspirators
with evil intentions (hard to not think that with such grotesque and
seemingly senseless murder afoot) But Microids managed to come up with a
unique angle on a centuries old group and spring some historical surprises
on this gamer. If this plot synopsis sounds a bit vague, it is intentional
- I really donít want to give away any of the delicious plot turns.
Act 3: The Stage is Set...
The graphics in Post Mortem seemed perfectly oriented to the mood of the
game. Some may find them a bit on the dark side (meaning light levels).
However, the cut scenes are crisp and easy on the eyes regardless of your
preferences. The music is up front in cafes and such where it would be
logically present and back ground only for other areas of the game. It
enhances the sultry surrealistic tone of Post Mortem. Again - this was my
kind of game. I adore the questionable ethos of Bogie, Film Noir and
Hitchcock. So Post Mortem also gained my admiration..
Act 4: The Best Laid Plans...
Post Mortem is absolutely unique in the way it is laid out - or I suppose
the way it is coded or structured. It has no dead ends. Yep thatís right
no dead ends. This to me is the most impressive quality of this game. Now
there are some tough puzzles. One takes pixel hunting to a whole new
level. To me, this particular puzzle was a distraction. In fact, I played
this game three times and it didnít get any easier. There is also a
suspect sketch that may force you to grab a cheat. However, this
irritation was muted by the novelty and logical integration of the other
challenges in the game. You will have to look sharp and pay attention to
your surroundings and what clues are given through questioning the many
characters. Still the main point I want to stress is that after three
replays I truly ran across no red herrings and no dead ends. No matter
what you doÖ or how you get a dilemma solved - you will not mess up the
rest of the game path. In fact, I urge people NOT to look at threads or
hints for this game. You will be totally confused by some of the things
you will read based upon how you are going through the game. It took me a
bit of time to figure this out. I spent a day looking for an item
allegedly by an elevator - that would never be in my saved game as I had
chosen a different path earlier in the game. There are at least two ways
to get past every challenge. There are three endings to the game. I
replayed it for a third time to get the third ending and ended up with an
entire mid game cut scene I was unaware of. What this game does is ask the
gamer to "just play the game" and trust their own efforts. I realize we
have all been conditioned to panic if we use an item in one place - and it
vanishes - then we run across another puzzle that looks like it can only
have been solved with the first item. This game says - "so what - look for
something else then" - and more amazingly - there will always be something
else that you can use if you look for it. My technical knowledge is
pitiful - but I suppose I just have to say Bravo to the
designers/coders/developer of Post Mortem. What a tightly wrapped -
cleverly crafted game. Bravo!!
Act 5: Finale...
Hard to tell that I liked this game a great deal - isnít it. Heh-heh If
you love a wicked mystery, with a weary disillusioned detective and a
multitude of plot twists thrown in with a good dose of horror - then this
is your mystery and a must play game.
Final Grade: A
I played this on a creaky old:
16 Mb Video
copyright © 2002