by Caitlin Roberts
reviewed on PC
If you are already familiar with point-and-click adventure games, the controls are for the most part intuitive. Still Life 2 combines several types of inventory tools in an easy to use and logical way; with Vic you have a smartphone to store your data (including articles, case files and relevant photos) and communicate with others through voice or text. You also have an inventory section – which as usual only allows a limited number of items to be held at any given time – but there is almost always a storage closet or container nearby where you can leave the items you don’t currently need in order to pick up the one that you can’t do without. And, given that this isn’t just an adventure but a police investigation adventure, you have a nifty CSIA kit. In comparing this to my memories of other evidence-gathering games, I found this to be simpler without being ‘simple’. Finding and analyzing evidence is clear and logical and, unlike some games, I didn’t end up tearing my hair out as a result of combing over every area five times for finding a minute speck of a clue. The symbols used to help you determine which tool to use are logical enough that you won’t need to refer to the manual to sort things out. One element that may disappoint other players but I found refreshing, was the ‘plainness’ of the text for case files. Simple and clean, it was easier to read than many which I have encountered in the last few years.
The linear style of the game has been enhanced and given an element of variety, by the multiple viewpoints that the game switches between. The one weak point I can find in the game is the length of the opening movie-like sequences which span almost 20 minutes. Don't get me wrong; movie sequences can be great to throw in there for some variety and change of pace, but the back-story sequences are followed by a few minutes of interaction with the game, and just as you're starting to get going you are abruptly demoted back to a voyeuristic status. Fortunately, this was not continued through the rest of the game and what sequences there are, are short and to the point.
Another twist which has been used very effectively in this game are the time-bound sequences. If you don’t succeed in finding the solution in time, you’re dead. You have other opportunities to commit game-bound suicide as well, so be warned; you do want to make sure you save on occasion. And another tip; keep an eye on your smartphone. There are some points at which you will wander around aimlessly, unable to move forward, unless you have actually read the files in your phone.
The animation was well thought out and developed. Occasionally a close-up scene was weak enough that you could see the rendering in the animation, but those didn’t occur too often. The musical scores are used to good dramatic effect, alternating at times between ominous and intense classical tracks to edgy modern riffs, and definitely provide additional foreshadowing. The dialogue in Still Life 2 is clean, clear and casual language with a balanced amount of humor and wit thrown into the mix. Of course you do get tired of hearing ‘that’s not it’ or one of the other half-dozen variations of the same when you are using the wrong tool to problem-solve, but I’ve not yet found an adventure game that this is not true for.
Still Life 2 has been a true pleasure to play, and I am looking forward to this weekend when I have the time to sit down and immerse myself in this game once more. So many adventure games these days rely more on spectacle and fright than good, solid puzzling that requires the player to actually exercise their brain. Aside from the initial confusion of jumping back and forth in time there is very little that I can find fault with. Perhaps the only note of complaint I can make is with the grammar and spelling which is a long-standing issue for me in adventure games. Most of it is good but occasionally the game’s French origins slip through in the text and voice-work. Rest assured that when I have solved the last puzzle in this game I will be out to the shop the next day to look up the original Still Life. I can only hope that it offers a similar experience to this masterfully crafted adventure game.
Sudden plot twists will keep you coming back for more.
None worth mentioning.