Written by  :  Dimitry Beliavsky (5)
Written on  :  Nov 11, 2018
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars

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Summary

A point and click murder mystery game with a lot of potential but ultimately a letdown in light of its predecessor.

The Good

Victoria McPherson, after finding the identity of serial killer from the first game, is now an FBI field agent being assigned to a new case of the ”East Coast Torturer”. A serial killer that films the torture of his all-female cast/victims before killing them, dumping their bodies in a random place across the country and then sending his new movie masterpiece to the media and the police to watch.

The game revolves around a journalist, Palomar Hernandez, who gets kidnapped by the East Coast Torturer and agent McPherson who tries to find out the location where the journalist is held.

And since the game will alternate between Palomar, the journalists, and Victoria, the FBI agent - it gives two points of view to the same events and allows some interesting story telling, from the point of the victim and the rescuer.

As Palomar, you will mostly try to survive the gauntlet of sadistic puzzles planned by the kidnapper for his own amusement and as Victoria you will do the job of an FBI agent and try to piece together the events and the identity of the criminal by collecting evidences and using a hi-tech forensic field kit

I like the forensic field kit, it was taken from the intro level of Still Life 1 and expended upon. You now can scan fingerprints and tire tracks and compere those to the database of the FBI directly. You can also collect samples of DNA, fibers and chemicals and chemically analyze them on the field and also compare them to the FBI data base. By doing all of this on the field you actually feel like you are the one progressing the story, you are the one doing the detective work.

The villain is the main star of the game, I like how the villain act and talks, he talk like stereotypical Hollywood movie producer with a psychotic tendencies to torture and kill you. The villain always looks to be cool and calculated, It always appears as if you are dancing in the palm of his hand. While playing the game, I was always asking myself if the clues and the tools to my escape are left on purpose or not. Its rare to find games where there are well designed villains like this one.

The Bad

The game sadly is buggy, playing as Palomar Hernandez and interact with the environment, being idle for too long or if the planets aligned in a specific way then there is a chance that Palomar will get stuck and won’t be able to move at all. This can happen absolutely at random and god forbid if you saved after this happened, because reloading or restarting from that save file wont solve the problem whatsoever.

Another bug is that sometime some in-game cutscenes will get interrupted either by you skipping it or by some cosmic magic and this may lock you from progressing of the game if you saved after this moment.

So the tip for Sierra games is extremely important here: save a lot, save often and save on different files each time you feel you have progressed far enough since loading a save file from before will help to solve the issue.

The game also suffers from the problems that comes with going from static environments to a 3D environment and that is the bad rigid camera. You see, unlike the first game that had static camera, this game got a dynamic camera, it follows the protagonist as he moves in the environment until the camera needs to change an angle and as you try to maneuver in those instances the camera prevents you from switching angles easily. This is especially annoying at the timed puzzles which failing them is a game over.

Now about the voice acting: Still Life 1 voice actors did their job properly, I was enjoying listening to them while the plot moved on and it feel like they were the characters themselves. Sadly in this game, it is voiced by different cast and as a result the game suffers from amateur voice acting which is horrible to listen too (at least on the English version which was the one played).

The inventory management looks like it been influence by Resident Evil 1: You will find items during your gameplay and will need to play Tetris with them to fit them and if you cannot then there are containers to store your items. Sounds good on paper but unlike Resident Evil, the content of the containers do not magically teleport to other container you access. Also some container are not well placed, they are not in central areas where you will visit a lot. Also since some of the object may be used more than once and some don’t disappear after use then you don’t know what you need to keep with you. So what happen most of the times is that you will need to run back and forth to fetch or deposited items in some remote location.

The Bottom Line

A game that need desperately a remake, a game that have ideas behind it - a great story and great game mechanics that could have been done better. The ending to the first game need to be restructured as the opening tutorial to the game. A buggy game for people with a lot of patience who can ignore the flaws to see the diamond.