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3 Cards to Midnight (Windows)

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73
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37842)
Written on  :  Jun 30, 2014
Rating  :  4.83 Stars4.83 Stars4.83 Stars4.83 Stars4.83 Stars

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Summary

An excellent hidden object game from the makers of Tex Murphy

The Good

After Access Software released Tex Murphy: Overseer in the late Nineties, a lot of changes happened to the company. Access was sold to Microsoft, which then sold it to Take-Two. Later, it was renamed to Indie Built, then shut down (along with the Tex Murphy series). Most of Access's employees (Chris Jones, Aaron Connors, Doug Vandegrift, et al) set up and formed Big Finish Games. The very first game by BFG was 3 Cards to Midnight, and although it wasn't a Tex Murphy game, it shared the same gameplay mechanics.

The story involves around Jess Silloway, who hires a tarot reader to help regain her memory. Three cards are laid down in front of her, and each card triggers a memory from her past, including people she met or did not meet yet. Gameplay wise, there are eight chapters, and the player is presented with a location scattered with objects that are connected to the words that Jess mentions in the introduction (eg: keyNOTE, NOTEbook). These locations look stunning, and everything is laid out nicely. Only one word is displayed in early locations, but the player must deal with multiple words in later ones. The tutorial shown in the game is really helpful, giving advice on misses, hints, and your overall objective.

Finding every object in the room that is associated with the word triggers an animated cinematic. These cinematics are well-scripted and help to build the story up. Every character is done by a professional voice actor. One of the characters that appear in this cinematics, a private investigator called Merryman, sounds a lot like Tex Murphy (since he is played by Chris Jones). I am surprised that Tex hasn't lost his voice after all these years of being on hiatus.

The music sounds great, especially when you are figuring out the puzzles. Most of the music blends in with the location you are exploring. I like the alerts when you have found the correct objects.

The number of objects vary in each room depending on the difficulty level you selected in the game; and there are multiple endings, and the one you get will depend on how well you perform. There are ratings assigned to each card; and if you ask for a hint, get a certain number of misses, or skip a puzzle, the game penalizes you by removing a star from that rating. All these factors make the game replayable.

The Bad

There are quite a few differences between British and US English. Since 3 Cards to Midnight is a game made in the United States, non-US citizens that have learnt British English are likely to gain misses much more than hits. For example, in one of the locations, you have to find a phone; and it is a “cellPHONE”, not a “mobilePHONE”. The only way they would find out what Americans call it, they have to look up online or go to their local library.

The Bottom Line

3 Cards to Midnight is the first game from Big Finish Games, which consists of the guys who worked on the Tex Murphy series. Most of the game involves finding objects that are associated with a certain word, and solving challenging puzzles on some occasions. Finding all the required objects trigger animated cinematics that build up the story. The graphics are stunning, and the music/sound effects are very good as well. There are multiple endings, but which one you get to view depends on your performance throughout the game. I have watched all three endings, and I was quite satisfied by them all.