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Norman Cooks in "Search for the Don" (Windows)

Norman Cooks in "Search for the Don" Windows Title Screen


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Written by  :  Terrence Bosky (5463)
Written on  :  Mar 11, 2005
Rating  :  2.2 Stars2.2 Stars2.2 Stars2.2 Stars2.2 Stars

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A great looking disappointment.

The Good

Norman Cooks stands by his rain-soaked window, accepting that this will be yet another night without clients. Content to read an old book and finish a cup of possibly older coffee, Norman’s evening plans change when a slip of paper slides under his door. It’s a message from Baldie, an informant, who wants to meet him in the park. This will be no routine exchange of information though. Rather, it’s the start of the Search for the Don. Which shouldn’t take too long, since the game only has three real locations.

Depending on the speed of your connection, it probably takes longer to download Search for the Don than it does to play through it. Search for the Don is a traditional adventure game made by Danny Hatziconstantinou using the Adventure Games Studio software package. The AGS software allows individuals to create Sierra/LucasArts style adventure games and the best example of its implementation would have to be 5 Days a Stranger. 5 Days a Stranger has a developed story and significantly longer gameplay, but graphically it’s only a little better than Maniac Mansion, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Graphically, Search for the Don is stunning—even before you see one of the two rendered cinematics. Hatziconstantinou raises the bar on AGS games, almost approaching commercial-level quality. His use of music, although sampled, is also fitting and from the beginning of the game, he creates a real atmosphere…

The Bad

which quickly evaporates.

I can appreciate brief games, but Search for the Don is brief and shallow. The only real puzzles are two pixel hunts, combined with a few trials by inventory, leading to two endings which are both unsatisfactory. And this is shocking, because you can see that hard work went into the game’s design. The game has visual flair and not much else.

The Bottom Line

Search for the Don won the 2002 AGS awards for Best Room Art and Best Character Art. At a resolution of 640x400 and featuring 16-bit color, it's great looking. But it's such a disappointment. Beyond feeling unfinished, it feels more like it never was started.