A portrait of a
married couple cast in sepia tones upon a faded snapshot and a haunted
house constructed by a famous architect. These are the clues which begin
the latest Carol Reed mystery adventure. Carol is back for her third
appearance in this creation from MDNA Games and -- much like the others --
it draws us into the dreamy, surrealistic landscape of Sweden, where Carol
has now decided to become a full-time resident.
There is a sweetness and peaceful
quality that resonates like a wind chime in the breeze in these
adventures. The snapshot style, first person point-and-click controls will
compel the player to take her time in traveling that garden path, to stand
still with Carol looking out through the trees that frame the shimmering
water. A remote gazebo, an inviting picnic table, an expanse of flowers –
we come upon these with eager eyes. An everyday scene is transformed into
a painter’s canvas with smudges of color and the magic of light and
shadow. This beauty is the essence of these Carol Reed adventures, and
“Time be still
If I could stop it
Stop it at will
You’d always be with me” (Time Stand Still)
Once again we get to greet some of the
slightly quirky characters that graced the previous adventures. With a
jolt of recognition we come across the tattooed and body pierced workman
and know instantly that he will be able to help us with some aspect of the
investigation. With a smile we once again see the handsome Bjorn Larsen
(the graveyard worker that we met in the first adventure “Remedy”), and
this time he threatens to steal the show with his charismatic fishing
scene. There’s the hint of romance in the air, and I rejoiced along with
Carol as she hummed to herself with glee to know of it. This was a very
good moment for Carol, as for once we saw her personality fleshed out a
bit. Through the first two games and until the end of this one, as we are
playing from a first person perspective, we don’t see the main character.
However, we do get a glimpse of Carol Reed at the conclusion of this game,
and she appears to be enjoying herself immensely.
Characters appear in a series of still
photographs, which show different facial expressions, and dialog is
completed by way of clicking on different subjects in a notebook. The
voiceovers are all generally pleasant. There’s also a new character in
this game voiced by the multi-talented Jonathan Boakes.
Players move from area to area by way
of a map, and once at a location, there may be little deviation from the
starting point, or there may be an expanse of area to explore. Sometimes
an area will not open up until an action is completed in the game, so some
re-checking of locales is necessary.
The navigation can be awkward, and it
is easy to miss a needed item. I knew there had to be a telephone book in
that apartment, but spent an undue amount of time spinning like a top
searching for it. Also, on two occasions I could see an item I needed,
but had to find another angle before I could access the item. This
entailed a series of moves to get to the item from another vantage point,
which I thought a trifle irritating.
A gears icon appears when an action is
needed on the screen, and a grabbing hand indicates that an item can be
taken into inventory. The inventory is easily accessible at the top of
your screen, and it’s also an easy matter to combine items, or drag an
item to the main screen to use.
You can save from any point, and I
didn’t encounter a limit on the saves.
I encountered no bugs, with the
exception of a minor one in the herb garden which had me carrying an
inventory item acquired there throughout the game. It didn’t make any
impact on the rest of the game. The game installed from one CD
flawlessly. It is not necessary to have the CD in the drive for the game
to play. It was not alt-tab friendly.
The soundtrack changes at the various
locations, and much of it is pleasant and mood enhancing. I particularly
liked the lilting strains that added to the reverie of walking in the
park, and also the ominous music when one visited the haunted house, for
it combined a sense of disquiet that made me look in the shadows for what
might be lurking just out of sight. The only music I found personally
annoying was at one point when Carol visits the room of her friend’s son,
which seemed to rev up in volume while I was trying to solve a puzzle.
The puzzles are a mixed lot of
inventory and memory/logic. There are no timed puzzles, no mazes, and no
sliders. There are color differentiations necessary, and also a sound
puzzle. These, like most of the puzzles, have a bypass system which is a
welcome addition to any game.
There is no combat, and you cannot
die. That would be counterproductive to this peaceful respite. If you want
never-ending action and excitement, this game is not going to be your
favorite. Think of it more as a sojourn in the dreamscape, a chance to
view some magnificent scenery while solving a mystery second most. There’s
an interesting plot here, but it is more like something you would
encounter in your dreams, a bit disjointed and requiring some leaps of
imagination to round out. If you rush through the game to solve the
underlying mystery, it is rather short. Instead, it is an opportunity to
savor a moment and reflect on the plea: “Time Stand Still!
Just the Facts
Point-and-click slideshow navigation
Inventory and memory/ logic puzzles. No sliders, mazes, or
timed puzzles. There is a puzzle requiring color differentiation, and a
sound puzzle. These and other major puzzles can be bypassed.
You cannot die, and there is no combat.
You can save at will, and there does not readily appear to
be a limit on saves.
The game installs easily from one CD, and thereafter does
not need to be in the drive for the game to play. It is not alt-tab
Unusual graphics, the strength of this game
Easter egg type references to the game website
Time Stand Still is an
Independent production of MDNA Games and can be purchased at the
design copyright ©