Language: German (also available in English and French)
USK: 16 years and up
A review by slydos 4th January 2003
After Syberia, Microîds presents us this time a 1st-person-adventure in Film Noir style: Post Mortem. Post Mortem is a dark thriller with paranormal elements in the decadent atmosphere of Paris in the 20's. This mystery thriller is addressed to an adult audience.
Main character is the American Gus MacPherson, a former private detective - specialized in particular unusual cases. He had helpful visions, that descended on him each time, something violent happened in his neighbourhood. After they accused him to be a serial killer in a very tricky case, he withdrew from the detective business and now lives as a painter in Paris. But that changes, when Sophia Blake appears ...
Sophia Blake is the mysterious woman, who shouldn't be missing in any Noir movie story. She mandates McPherson to examine the murder of her brother-in-law and her sister - the Whytes - because the police apparently isn't very much interested in clearing up the bloody crime. Not only the deed was bloody, the pair was decapitated and arranged in a ritual way. Are these murders an individual case? MacPherson assumes more behind it and gets involved into the most mysterious case of his career, bringing him on the occult trace of the Templars and their admiration for Baphomet.
The game comes on 2 CDs including a German manual in a DVD-box. We have the choice between a minimum installation of 270 MB, a medium of 600 MB or the complete installation of 1100 MB. A readme-file gives information about graphic compatibilities and support. Even after the full installation we must leave CD 2 in the CD-drive. After the short opening, which introduces us the coming mysterious happenings through graphics and sound in form of a silent movie-like overview of the most diverse secret sciences, we arrive in the main menu.
Apart from the standard functions we can here also watch again the already seen video sequences and from the option menu can adjust sound, graphics and sub-titles. If we start a new game, then we are led with an exciting camera pivot across the roofs of rainy, nocturnal Paris to the scene of the crime - the hotel Orphée in one of the better districts. In the hotel room the camera moves across some heedless dropped pieces of clothing of a snickering couple, absorbed by their game of love in bed, when the inconceivable happens ... We experience MacPherson's vision of an unbelievably cruel crime, which is interrupted by a knocking on his studio door. Sophia Blake would like to speak to the former private eye and from now on we can affect the course of the game.
Post Mortem is totally mouse-controlled. In 1st-person-perspective we can move in 360 degrees panorama view. The variable cursor indicates possibilities for interaction and for leaving the current scene or view. Right-click opens an interactive bar at the bottom of the screen, which contains both the scrollable inventory and the icons for the main menu and MacPherson's note book. For the movements of our character the developers used the same engine as with its direct predecessor "Road to India". So its likewise simple and intuitive. You also right-click for the inventory as in Road to India.
However handling of the inventory and the note book is not as comfortable as in Road to India. You see only few objects at the same time and must scroll, to research into them to get a description or the contents of documents. Also pedantic is browsing the note book, where all important information is stored up to all dialogues, but in an order, which makes repeated scrolling necessary. A further minus point is the handling of the dialogues. As the game progresses in very different ways depending on dialogue selection, we may frequently want to repeat scenes. Unfortunately the dialogues cannot be aborted, and all offered possibilities must be played and listened to up to the end.
Savegames are not limited as far as I experienced. A picture of the scene is automatically stored together with time and date. Restoring saved games and leaving the game works without delays. You can also very fast move from one location to another using the Paris map.
Post Mortem not only transports Film Noir atmosphere by the design of broken characters but also by graphics and sound. The sky over Paris is dark and threatening. Like in Syberia everything begins on wet-with-rain roads. Post Mortem however exclusively takes place at night, in a luxury hotel with barman and night clerk, in a bar where light-shy people are meeting for a tryst or e.g. on the police station, where an easily corruptible gendarme is on duty.
While the standard background graphics usually look slightly blurred, the many dialogue scenes, in which we can watch Gus and his interlocutors, are detailed and expressive. Unfortunately the 3D-characters don't have the quality of Syberia and gesturing and facial expression partly look rigid. Aliveness and movie feeling are produced however by those suitably selected and changing camera perspectives. In particular the moody music contributes to the exciting, dark atmosphere with melancholic jazz rhythms, partly orchestral, partly only from the piano.
Disturbing was only a constantly repeating radio sound in some places of the game, which again and again stopped abruptly, in order to then begin again suddenly. First-class again the quality of the expressive video sequences, which especially introduce each new scene. Substantially better than in Road to India and just as well as in Syberia Microids created again an absorbing atmosphere which will leave no player cold. It will give you creeps actually!
The voice actor selection succeeded suitably and very well. The speakers are often more expressive than their graphic counterparts. The German lipsynch is satisfying but actually not as accurate, as desired. In addition some constant pronunciation errors could be found with names, e.g. Lebrun and Beauvais, and some translation errors with the written texts occured: while you hear e.g. several times the word "vision", the writing each time shows "version". But such oversights don't cloud the positive overall impresssion, but nevertheless with some care they would have been not necessary. Positive are - not only for hearing-impaired gamers - the switchable subtitles, in clearly readable font and during longer dialogues also in suitable speed.
The puzzles depend partially on Gus' behaviour during dialogues. Quite exceptional, at least for the adventure genre, the flexible dialogue system. It offers the possibility to influence the kind of interaction and the result. It already starts at the beginning when Gus rejects Sophia and she simply leaves him. If you want to go on with the game, you must contact her again in another way. The game takes another course, according to whether we annoy or flatter our counterpart. It can happen e.g. that an interlocutor does not want to talk any longer or behaves completely different and we thereupon have to approach a task differently. In addition there are different objects, which are not at all used or found in some branch of the story or just can be found in another place. This is a very attractive attribute of the game and inspires to replay it in any case.
Apart from finding and analysing documents and the correct use of items there are still quite different interesting and new puzzles. You not simply have to find and use keys to open doors, but very realistically have to apply a skeleton key set. One must assemble mixtures and solve coding puzzles. There is an "original and falsification"-puzzle, known from newspapers, and Gus must also prove his artistic abilities when drawing the picture of a suspect after testimonies.
A very high value was set on non-linearity, so that the gamers have to face large freedom in movement and the sequence AND method of solution up to different game ends. In addition you have to slip into the role of a further character, in order to proceed in the story. There are no Game Overs and to my knowledge no dead ends. In some places, e.g. with the suspect drawing, one sometimes has to think and try a longer time but through the nonlinear game design it's possible to interrupt lengthier puzzles and turn to other investigations. The puzzles are very diversified and well integrated into the story, besides one exception solvable by logical hints instead of trial and error.
A really varied and exciting adventure! Nothing is, like it seems! Suspense remains from the beginning to the very end and the sophisticated story would well fit to a movie. Since Tex Murphy finally again a great and in addition exciting mystery story with many surprising turns and remarkable atmosphere. Even if Post Mortem is not yet perfect, one can recommend it nevertheless to all, who attach particular importance to a well told story, because this is one of the finest! In addition we find a praiseworthy freedom of movement and that the 15 hours+ play time is extended by the replay value of the different plot branches.
Minimal system requirements:
- Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
- CPU 350 Mhz / 500 Mhz recommended
- 64 MB RAM / 128 MB recommended
- 16x CDROM drive (24x recommended)
- 16 MB Direct3D compatible graphic card / 32 MB recommended
- 500 MB free space on hard disk
- DirectSound compatible sound card
Compatible graphic cards:
NVidia Geforce MX/Geforce 2 / Geforce 3 - 3DFX Voodoo Banshee & Voodoo 3 - Matrox Millenium G550 - Power VR Kyro II - ATI Radeon
WindowsME Pentium III 850 128 MB RAM Sound- and graphic card DirectX-compatible Toshiba DVD-ROM
- 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)
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