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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

Microids

 

Developer

Microids

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Good atmosphere lends itself to the story

- Story is good (however gruesome)

- Easy navigation

- Fair puzzles

- Food for the adventure-starved

 

 

- Dark, dark, dark!

- Story sometimes dips into incomprehensibility

 

 

Review: Escape from Monkey Island (Playstation 2)
Review: Syberia (PC)

Review: Drunna (PC)

 

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Post Mortem

Score: 7.3 / 10

 

Imagine, if you will, yourself in a dark room.  Not just dark, pitch black Ė so black you have no feeling of space or objects around you.  Itís an amorphous black sack cloth enveloping you as you stand there.  Now imagine youíre blindfolded as you grope for the one item that will get you out of that room.

 

post-mortem-1.jpg (31303 bytes)         post-mortem-2.jpg (32684 bytes)

 

This imagining is to give you, dear reader, an idea of what itís like playing Post Mortem (PM).  At least until the gamma levels are pumped and the monitor brightness increased Ė then itís almost like staring into the sun.

 

Itís this simple flaw, quite a large one when you think about it, is enough to suck much enjoyment from an otherwise good adventure, even if it does set a suitably dark tone.

 

The utter darkness that wraps around everything in PM makes it imperative to set better lighting conditions.  Increase the brightness too much and everything looks washed out and the characters even more robot-like.  I never found a happy medium.  In fact, for some puzzles I cranked the gamma setting down so I could see better.  The overall effect is distracting Ė not enough to kill PM outright but a graphical overhaul may have been in order.

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As Gus MacPherson, a partially clairvoyant ex-detective and self-styled artist, youíre hired to investigate a brutal double homicide in a Paris hotel room (circa 1925).  A married couple have had their heads removed in a ritualistic fashion and the official investigation is somewhat stalled.  In short order, some shady characters are brought to light (more or less) and some hard-to-follow conspiracies involving a secret Brotherhood are exposed.

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Adventure games have almost always relied on much plot and character development to push the action forward (the good ones at any rate) and although PM is somewhat stymied by some quirky and/or awkward French to English translations (and hammy voice work) itís largely successful at telling a good, if gruesome, story.  At least when the story's understandable -- just when youíre starting to understand whatís going on you get dropped into the boots of another character in a flashback sequence.

 

This shift opens up additional backstory and various puzzles to work through.

 

However, if you donít fiddle with the default graphic settings youíll be working a lot to find the right items, navigate the game world, and discover clues.  Searching a blood-soaked hotel room is tough enough without having to stumble through the dark.  To discover some items, careful examination of your surroundings is required.  It manages to avoid pixel hunts though so you can concentrate on real puzzles like playing ďSpot the MistakesĒ with forged classic paintings or distracting old ladies so you can access important rooms or completing a composite sketch with only the vaguest of descriptions.  For the most part, the puzzles make logical sense but there are occasional ones that make no sense.

 

Early on youíre unable to access the upper portion of hotel.  You canít take the direct approach (i.e. walking up the stairs) since this might draw attention to yourself so you must stowaway in a large piece of luggage the bellhop is carting upstairs.  However, once youíve accessed the upper level there is no restriction to just walking up the stairs.  Whyís the puzzle even included?

 

post-mortem-3.jpg (19846 bytes)          post-mortem-4.jpg (27343 bytes)

 

Navigating the game world is simple enough, with a combination of Myst-like exploration and an overhead map to travel to different locations.  You have a 360į field of vision of preset areas.  Itís easy to get into the habit of not looking up or down during exploration even though doing so is essential if you want to avoid headaches.

 

Another gripe I have is the inability to skip snippets of dialogue heard many times before (and thereís a whole lot of dialogue).  A log of all conversations is kept so why canít I skip the parts Iíve heard before?

 

Post Mortem is a solid adventure with a good story that will keep your interest once the mystery starts to unravel.  It has its flaws, the biggest being the swirling ink oozing from every corner and some hard to follow dialogue.  Itís not as good as Microids last adventure, Syberia, but it should be enough for those aching for a good adventure game.

 

- Omni

(January 8, 2002)

 

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