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Carte Blanche -
First Episode: For a Fistful of Teeth ...


Release date: 12/2006

Developer: Absurdus
Publisher: G2 Games

Game languages: English or French


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PEGI: 12+

 


A review by   André   31st January 2007

 

What does 'Independent' mean actually? If you give a well-selling format a damn and create a whole game in black-and-white. That's what happened to "Carte Blanche", the new and again extremely bizarre and humorous adventure game from Absurdus, the people who respectably debuted with "Eye of the Kraken" in 2002.

 

Story

It's the year 1920. Young Edgar leaves his hometown Quebec, to find a job in the big city of Montreal. When he arrived, a rather dubious accommodation is waiting for him. Since his uncle, an adventurer and taxidermist, just went on an expedition, Edgar moves into his room, which he must share with stuffed animals. Only a brief look into the newspaper is enough for Edgar to find him a suitable job. He applies at an investigative agency and is hired on the spot despite the absence of any professionell experience. Edgar is thrown into cold water and gets imposed with two cases. The first one, to catch an unfaithful wife in the act is quickly solved - I can betray this. The second case, a robbery at a seedy art dealer, is actually the core of the game.

 

Graphics

"Carte Blanche" plays rather like a 3rd-person-adventure, but to be precise 3rd- and 1st-person views alternate. A few details such as icons or texts in the inventory or menu ensure that the game gets some color at all. "Carte Blanche" is a cartoon style adventure like "Eye of the Kraken", this time supplemented by a proper portion of Film Noir atmosphere. Of course the black-and-white graphics are very suitable for this purpose. The game can be compared a little bit with "Case of the Crabs" or "Discworld Noir", but comes in its very own, experimental style. The faces of the characters are particularly remarkable. They look as if made from photos, distorted and otherwise reworked. In any case they look quite bizarre.

However "Carte Blanche" is a semiprofessional indie. This means, there are obvious differences to commercial productions. There are a few small 3D-animations. Besides "Carte Blanche" has not much freedom of movement, even in 3rd-person-view our protagonist is fixed at one spot of the picture. The lip movements are likewise not so well succeeded, actually they are nealy totally missing as well as facial expressions.

 

Music/sound

Even if "Carte Blanche" looks more professional than "Eye of the Kraken" because of the different perspectives and cut, many dialogue sequences are - and that is perhaps the main point of criticism - quite tough and sluggish. At least on my computer the dialogue voice output and subtitle display is delayed for some seconds.

The music is calm and relaxing. From time to time you can listen to beautiful little tunes played on keyboard or guitar, sometimes however there's no sound. Even if I'm no fan of overpowering sound, this time the music could have been a shade more.

The voice overs are actually very good, if you leave the secretary unconsidered. Her constant hysterical and insufferable screeching and screaming maybe part of Absurdus' philosophy true to their name to be considered as totally ludicrous. Besides many speakers have funny accents, what is part of the humour in Absurdus games. The dialogues disclose funny little allusions in this respect and nearly each nationality gets its come-uppance.

 

Puzzles

Occasionally one finds or gets objects for the inventory. You can look at them within the inventory but cannot directly select or use one. Items are used automatically when you come to the right place. The puzzles of "Carte Blanche" are more of the dialogue-type and a part of the concept is to give the correct answers in order to get ahead in the game. Often one must look for the right hint before a solution is possible. For example you cannot crack the lock of a wine cellar until you've got the information, which object you have to use on it, although it's already for a long time in your inventory. I didn't need a walkthrough by the way, since the degree of difficulty is moderate.

 

Character development

A fine thing and likewise part of the puzzle design is the so-called character development as one knows it from role-playing-games: depending on how you act, you acquire certain characteristics and abilities. So each player will experience an individual game progress. Well, that's not exactly new, but rather unusual for adventure games nevertheless. That gives variety.

One often has to wait until one has collected enough points in special skills to accomplish certain tasks (for instance manipulating people). Of course this system was installed just as humorous and entertaining as the whole game and should be treated with a twinkle in the eye as well. Thus you're already credited with musical abilities if you only strike the doorman's bell. At the end of the game Edgar passes an individual save-game, which can be used in the next part of "Carte Blanche".

 

Handling

"Carte Blanche" can be installed without problems. It includes both language versions, English and French. Before you start the game you can choose in which language you would like to play. "Carte Blanche" ran without any bugs on my computer - except for the already mentioned delay of voice output, of course. No crashes ocurred. Instead the texts not always completely correspond to the spoken word. Just in case someone cares for that.

Besides, the controls simply did their jobs without any problem. With the right mouse button you get to the menu, which fits the style of a mystery adventure game well, designed like a lever arch binder. Here you find savegames, options, the character score, the description of the current cases as well as the inventory, each as a single file. Inventory objects are only listed as texts. If you select a text line, you get a document, where the object is exactly described, of course with the typical Absurdus humour.

As for the options menu I would like to point out, that speech, music, sound effects and sub-titles are individually adjustable. Sub-titles are always visible and faded in long enough for a comfortable reading.

Oh yes, the savegames are showing the expired gaming time. It took me around 7 hours. People who are smarter, play with higher speed or who are better trained to understand English will probably get through it faster.

 

Tricksters, vamps and thiefs

Question: If I would be a publisher myself and would like to annoy the gamers with simple means to get a derogation in rating, how would I manage? Answer: Quite simple, do what G2 Games did. Promise the customers to get an USB stick as well as an exclusive demo of an upcoming game when ordering! And then simply don't deliver it. Add a coupon instead, that tells you to send it back to the publisher, if you want to get the promised things! As long as supply lasts - this little but not unimportant additional message is delivered to you after your purchase. Haven't received the USB stick after months!

I am sure however, no small number of customers has ordered the game with the ulterior motive to get at least the promised storage medium if the game itself would be worthless. I think, this is a strange practice, especially having the independent status of the developers in mind. In my view this is a dirty trick and dupery, causing a purchase warning and devaluation! Not this way!

 

Result

I had some problems to find into the game in the beginning, because it was so lame, especially the voice output, at least on my computer. This becomes particularly conspicious, because most of the time there is no background music which could conceil this waiting periods. That's why the game appears so empty. But after some while I got accustomed to that i.e. I rather made the best of it and concentrated on its advantages. Namely black and subversive humour, as one knows it from "Eye of the Kraken". Several times I really had to laugh out loud. This adventure game was amusing in the best way, what hasn't happened for some time! The character development likewise provides some change. Graphically the game can please through experimental, extremely humorous and bizarre design with very independent characters, so that it does not feel colourless at all despite the black-and-white style. Graphic freaks must be told that this do-it-yourself independent work is still a fair way off from a professional production. However there is still the purchase warning as well as the devaluation because of the missing USB stick (and the likewise missing demo), so that we end up with 70%. But that doesn't change the fact that I have squirreled away my Edgar-save for the hopefully soon to be released successor.

 

 Total rating: 70%

Adventure-Archiv rating system:

  • 80% - 100%  excellent game, very recommendable
  • 70% - 79%    good game, recommendable
  • 60% - 69%    satisfactory, restricted recommendable
  • 50% - 59%    sufficient (not very recommendable)
  • 40% - 49%    rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
  • 0%  -  39%    worst (don't put your fingers on it)

 

Minimal system requirements:

  • CPU 900 MHz GHz
  • Windows 98/2000/XP
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 128 MB graphic card
  • 400 MB hard disk space
  • DirectX 9

Played on:

  • Windows XP
  • Pentium IV 3,6 GHz
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 48x DVD-ROM
  • NVidia GeForce 7600GS 256 MB
  • Sound card DirectX-compatible

 

Click on screenshots to magnify

 

The starting screen
The starting screen

 

 

 

Journey to Montreal
Journey to Montreal

 

 

Edgar is looking for a job in the newspaper
Edgar is looking for a job in the newspaper

 

 

 

Mrs. Malaki
Mrs. Malaki

 

 

This is the home of the Strozzi brothers, Luigo and Mario
This is the home of the Strozzi brothers, Luigo and Mario


 

Necromancy plays a rather subsidiary role in Carte Blanche
Necromancy plays a rather subsidiary role in Carte Blanche

 

 

Talking to the barkeeper
Talking to the barkeeper

 

 

 

The dock worker is very cooperative
The dock worker is very cooperative

 

 

 

The inventory
The inventory

 

 

Suspicious! The dubious art-dealer Telesphore.
Suspicious! The dubious art-dealer Telesphore.

 

More screenshots

 


 

 

 


 

 

Copyright © André for Adventure-Archiv, 31st January 2007

 

 

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