Developer: Microids | Publisher: Microids | Release Date: 2005 | Genre: Point & Click Adventure | Website: n/a | Purchase: Steam
After Lucasarts stopped producing Point & Click Adventure games everyone pretty much gave up on the genre and despite some occasional classics like the Broken Sword series there wasn’t much to get excited about. Instead of seeing the death of a genre as an obstacle one company instead treated it like an opportunity and so The Adventure Company was formed. Games like Syberia has proven that there are still players out there that crave some solid adventuring where your grey matter will get you much further than your trigger finger. While it has all the basics covered Still Life isn’t exactly your typical Point & Click Adventure. You play as Victoria McPherson who is an FBI agent hot on the trail of a brutal serial killer. With a rising body count and some very disturbing crime scenes Victory is even more shocked to find that her own grandfather faced something eerily similar 75 years ago as a private investigator.
The story is easily the best part of Still Life and is fleshed out with some nice full motion video sequences that kick in every now and then. These are very cinematic, fit the game nicely and isn’t obtrusive. The game’s graphics isn’t too shabby either and while it’s clear to see that the artists didn’t have an unlimited budget the game still has a style and flair of it’s own and manages to impress without demanding too much from the hardware. Locations are essentially pre-rendered with some animated effects scattered about to give it more life. The characters are full 3D but can look a bit out of place against the sharp and detailed backgrounds. That’s not to say that the characters don’t look good, but despite some very realistic animations a few of them look a little, odd.
The game is definitely not for younger gamers as there’s plenty of blood and more than one trip down to the morgue where you get to see what a brutal serial killer with a sharp knife can do to a woman’s body. The odd glimpses of nudity might also upset a few people, so you might want to give this a miss if you are easily offended by such things.
As the game is a Point & Click Adventure everything is handled with the mouse and apart from some initial confusion everything is intuitive and easy to perform. The cursor is context sensitive so holding it over a person will change it into a speech bubble allowing you to talk to them while holding it over something interesting will change it into a magnifying glass allowing you to investigate. Although items aren’t labelled when you move your cursor over them you won’t ever be in any doubt as to whether you can perform an action in the area as an icon will pop up to let you know that interaction is possible. This can make some of the puzzles a bit too easy, but at least it cut’s down on frustration.
The gameplay is challenging enough, but in some parts can be a bit too obscure. I mean, who wants to bake cookies following some vague recipe in the middle of a murder mystery? The game is also very linear, so if you are stuck in one spot you won’t be able to progress at all. Some effort has been made to mix things up and include a lot of variety in the puzzles, but not all of them are that fun and I never had that feeling of beating a clever puzzle when I completed them. Instead I was just glad I managed to get through them.
The audio is fairly decent and for once I can’t complain about voice overs. There’s the occasional character that sounds a bit off, but overall nothing too horrible. At least the main characters seem to have tried to inject a bit of emotion into their lines and not just drone on and on. The game doesn’t shy away from swear words either, so once again tuck the young ones away before playing. Interaction with other characters is a bit disappointing as instead of getting to pick what questions or responses you can give all you do is click either the left or right mouse button to advance the conversation. Sound effects are decent but sparse and the music is suitable gloomy adding to the creepy atmosphere.
Still Life brings some nice aspects to the table like playing with two different characters in two different eras, but at the end of the day it’s hardly revolutionary. With only seven chapters, the game doesn’t last that long and if you were expecting a spectacular ending that ties up all the loose ends you might as well not bother playing. While I definitely had a lot of fun playing the game I still wish some areas were a bit better. There’s definitely room for a sequel, though, so maybe next time all the kinks will be ironed out.
*Review originally published in 2005.
- OS: Windows® XP/Vista/7
- Processor: 1GHz CPU
- Memory: 512MB
- Hard Disk Space: 1.2GB
- Video Card: DirectX compatible graphics card with 128MB memory
- DirectX®: 9.0c
- Sound: Sound card with DirectX 9.0c support