Throwback Thursday - Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer
Throwback Thursday - Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer
City Interactive seems determined to wallow in mediocrity as many of the problems that plagued their first two adventure offerings are repeated in Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer
Posted: 01/11/18 | Category: Review | Developer: City Interactive | Publisher: City Interactive | Platform: Windows

Note: This review was originally published March 8, 2009

FBI Agent Nicole Bonnet – developer City Interactive’s version of Clarice Starling – is once again globe-trotting in Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer.

 A serial killer is draining his victim’s blood and then using an intricate hook and pulley system to hang their lifeless bodies in famous ballet poses. The only clues are handcrafted dolls attired in 18th century costumes left near the bodies. Agent Bonnet’s investigation will take her from Paris to Marseilles, from the Spanish Pyrenees to Havana before she finally corners the elusive killer.

Puppeteer's graphics are splendid. Automobile headlights from the street below flood over the hotel room’s ceiling. Ravens flap their wings from atop crypts and dogs sniff about deserted alleys. The textures and depth of the buildings in the urban landscapes is near realistic and the cut-scenes have a gritty, movie-like feel to them. There is also a nice touch as a character from another City Interactive game – Chronicles of Mystery – makes a surprise guest appearance.

And that concludes the positive portion of our review.

City Interactive seems determined to wallow in mediocrity as many of the problems that plagued their first two adventure offerings are repeated in Puppeteer.

The voice acting is not horrendous, but it is certainly tepid. It sounds as though the actors were given pages of lines to read without any knowledge of the character’s situation. So not only are inflections off-kilter, but much of the actor’s interpretations are lifeless and emotionless. Of course, even the most talented of actors would find it difficult to infuse life in such stilted and at times nonsensical dialogue. At one point, Bonnet phones FBI headquarters in search of her superior and is told by the secretary that, “He’s gone for longer.” WTF?! What does that even mean? On a positive note, there are fewer misspellings in the subtitles this time around.

The game is unforgiving in its linearity. There is zero opportunity for any creativity from the player. Areas cannot be exited unless all of the objectives have been accomplished. Nor is your GPS of any use as it only lets you go where the developers want you to go next.

As for Agent Bonnet, why is this character even in the FBI? Once again, City Interactive has her unbelievably traipsing all over the world in search of a serial killer. The entire storyline would have been better-served and more believable had it been set entirely in New Orleans. Not only is she outside of her jurisdiction, but all of the usual clichés in this type of scenario rear their ugly heads. The French Inspector she is assigned to work with – guess what – he’s irritable and doesn’t appreciate Bonnet intruding on his territory. What a novel concept. Of course, he’s also inept and doesn’t follow through on investigations, thus opening the way for her to engage in subterfuge. Bonnet’s personality also seems to have been stripped of much of the charm that made her so likeable in her first adventure.

Still, things could have gone swimmingly if only some sort of logic was employed, but as these few examples will prove, it is not to be:

Agent Bonnet will not break the police tape across a door because she could be charged with breaking and entering. But she has no problem with getting into the room by climbing out a window, crossing a ledge five stories up – destroying some property in the process – and then picking a window lock to enter the room. Isn’t that still breaking and entering? Wouldn’t it have been just as easy to pick the door lock, slip through the tape and lock the door behind her?

When she returns to a bookstore after having been gone only a few minutes, the shop owner has been killed and strung up by the serial killer. In only a matter of minutes.

Worst of all is that the developers do not play fair. At times you are able to accumulate inventory items whenever and wherever they are found whether they are needed at that moment or not. Yet, just as often you can’t take an item unless you have encountered a situation in which it can be used. So which is it? There is no consistency.

The puzzles, some of which are fun to solve, can also be, well, not really  puzzles. After a Cuban government worker refuses to help Bonnet unless she provides him with some Cuban cigars (which in itself made no sense to me; if you’re already in Cuba, won’t all of the cigars be Cuban?). Now, in any ‘normal’ adventure game – or even in real life for that matter – you would expect to hunt down an out-of-the-way store where the cigars you are searching for are tucked away on a dark shelf, but maybe you wouldn’t have the money to purchase them and would have to find some way to earn cash. Or maybe you would find a field with some tobacco leaves and you would have to find a way to cut and then roll them into a tight cigar. You know how you get the cigars in Puppeteer? You find them. In a tin can in an elevator. Just waiting for you. How frigging convenient is that?! Who in the heck needs a convenience store when stuff is just scattered around for the taking.

By game’s end, it almost seems as though the developers have gotten sick of the entire game and just want to get it over with. Before the final confrontation you have to cross a sewer. There is a hook in the wall and some broken mortar below. A rope and a plank are in your inventory. When you click on the hook, it says good place to secure the rope. When you click on the broken mortar it says, place the plank. Does it get any easier than that!?

As for the dénouement, try not to laugh when the villain proclaims, “I am trying to clear us of this odium!” Yes, it is a real word and yes, it is properly used, but still...

Finally, we haven’t been too kind to City Interactive games in the past, but we’ve tried to be honest. Still, when a publisher refuses to send either screenshots, or a review copy – especially to a site that has supported the adventure community for ten years  well, that is a slippery slope, and judging from some of the negative reviews already posted for this game, it looks as though a lot of other sites will also soon be purchasing their review copies at Best Buy.

Final Grade: C-

If you liked this game, then
Play: Art of Murder: FBI Confidential
Watch: Puppet Master
Read: Silence of the Lambs
System Requirements:

Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista
DirectX 9.0
Pentium III 500 MHz
128 MB RAM
DirectX 8.1 compatible video card with 32 MB RAM
DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card
1 GB free hard drive space
DVD-ROM drive

Specials from Digital Download
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