Still Life

Overview:

Creepy factor: 3

Fun factor: 7

Replay value: 7

Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Puzzle Difficulty: 6

Overall: 7.5

Review:

In Still Life there are two playable characters, Victoria McPherson and Gustav McPherson, her grandfather (from Post Mortem). So, the storyline swaps back and forth between whatís going on in the past and the present. The story of the game becomes pretty clear early on, but itís still interesting. On the outside it starts out about a detective investigating serial murders and reading about one of her grandfatherís cases, but then you figure out that theyíre connected and how.

The first thing youíll notice about this game, even as youíre installing it, is that it has really good graphics, especially for a point-and-click game. It seems like most of them have small budgets or something, but this one turned out pretty sleek-looking; maybe itís because they also released it on Xbox. The water in the game is especially fantastic looking, itís really shiny and the ripples are awesome. Also, the buildings and rooms that you go into are extremely detailed and airbrushed looking; the coloring in this game is very rich and vibrant. My only graphical hang-up is that the way the charactersí mouths move is sometimes a bit exaggerated and chompy, but thatís easy to get over.

Oh, also, this game features several cinematic cut scenes in this game, including one in the beginning. Theyíre really well incorporated into the game play and are pretty top-notch looking. Thereís even an area on the main menu where you can review any of the cut scenes at your leisure, which may or may not be a nifty feature.

This game features a 3rd person camera view, so you watch your character move around the screen and you can either click a spot you want them to move to, click a place to go look at, or click the edges to make them move onto the next screen. Also, when youíre moving your character around, you can double click to make them run. Itís pretty easy to navigate and find the movement hotspots. Another thing is that to move from place to place you make use of a map of the area, and you click where you want to go.

The dialogue in this game can be pretty cheesy at times. It definitely takes away from the realism of the game. The main character, Victoria, says entirely too many cheesy lines that attempt to be funny. The other characters in the game that you meet along the way have lines and ways of talking to put them into stereotypes. There are a few characters that have the ďbig, dumbĒ stereotype, in particular. Also, the black police officerís voice acting and lines should be considered borderline offensive. I am probably making it sounds like the characters in the game make it unbearable, but itís not as bad as it sounds, really! Alongside the stereotyped characters are ones who actually have interesting lines and decent voice acting.

Interacting with characters in this game is made slightly more free-flowing because you can choose to either talk to them about something on-topic or you can talk to them about something random, like the weather or how theyíre doing. You do this by either clicking the left or right mouse button. It doesnít exactly make the game non-linear, but it does add a layer of depth to the experience.

There isnít much music in this game. It seems to come and go depending on where you are in the game. However, the music that is incorporated is very atmospheric and appropriate. Some of it has haunting undertones and some of it is lighter. The music is so well incorporated that I didnít even noticed when going from a screen with music to one without.

The puzzles in Still Life are actually pretty standard. Thereís even a sliding picture puzzle. No, really. There are a couple puzzles that are hard enough to be a bit annoying, but for the most part theyíre easy enough to figure out, and theyíre pretty straightforward. There are really only definite ďpuzzlesĒ, itís not like you really have to figure much out with picking up items and such. If you need to pick up an item for something, itís usually in the same room youíre in or somewhere nearby. I almost wish there were more difficult item-related puzzles and more things to pick up and examine.

The game definitely has a motion and you just move along with it in the storyline, without stopping to figure out what to do with random items or where to find something specific. And if you do happen to get stuck somewhere, the characters keep journals and logs of their conversations. Of course, this could be considered a good thing for people who like to play point-and-clicks for the story.

All in all, this game is really fun! The graphics are smooth, sleek, and vibrant and the music is atmospheric. The puzzles arenít too difficult and you can talk to the characters about off-topic chit-chat. You can also get this game on the Xbox if you prefer even. I would definitely pick this one up; itís definitely a glossy point-and-click styled game and itís about solving a murder mystery, which is always fun, right?