Reviews: Remedy - The First Carol Reed Mystery - Review 2
Carol investigates the death of a detective friend and the case he was working on when he died
Publisher: MDNA Games
Genre: Mystery Adventure
Release Date: November 2004
Note: Originally published 28 January 2005
Remedy is the latest in a line of games made with the AdventureMaker engine. The majority of the games on the AdventureMaker website are free so when a game is released commercially, it has to be able to compete with the “big boys” to some extent. At the very least, it is going to have to stand up to other independent game competition.
The creators of Remedy, MDNA, are a husband and wife team, Mikael and Eleen Nyqvist (contact them at email@example.com), who live in Norrkoping, Sweden, where the game is set. They are themselves keen adventure gamers and cite early Sierra games as inspiration. They also make short films, with a particular interest in Madonna. They spent eight months in 2004 developing the game. They give more specifics about the equipment they used and the programs they used to put it all together on their website.
You play Carol, a twenty-something English woman on some kind of exchange working program in Sweden. She has just received word that a Swedish detective friend passed away while working on a case. She is intrigued by the case and decides a fitting tribute to him would be to take the case to fruition. She notices clues he has left for her seemingly with the foresight that he might be killed during the course of his investigations.
For me, this was a game that gave me flashbacks. A first-person perspective game, the stunning photographs used in the game (more than 1000) have each been touched up to give the appearance of a watercolor painting. Many others who have played Golden Gate will share the feeling of déjà vu, with its stunning hand-painted photographs. This game has far more interaction than Golden Gate, however, as there are conversations with real people. Each conversation is a voice-over with a photograph of the person. There are no cutscenes of any sort in the game.
There are limited sound effects in the game but I enjoyed what sounds there were. I was particularly impressed with the music, which again gave me flashbacks to Sierra games such as the Gabriel Knight series, with its emotive piano-based melodies. It added to a sense of loneliness that was inherent in the game, with Carol investigating by herself in lonely parts of town. Mikael composed the twenty-two themes, which were, without exception to my recall, superb.
Voice acting is fairly ordinary even for people for whom English is a second language. I was disappointed that there is no Swedish in the game but this is in keeping with the story, as the protagonist is English and speaks next to no Swedish. Although pronunciation is very good for all actors, the enunciation often gives the impression that the actors don’t really mean (or understand) what they are saying. An exception to this is the actor playing Carol. Her voice acting is excellent throughout the game. All spoken dialog is subtitled in English.
The team has a strong ethic about adventure games: “no violence or foul language...no action sequences, timed sequences, or labyrinths.” This sounds a godsend to most traditional adventure gamers that remember the days of “classic” adventure gaming. Following these tenets of adventure game development comes at a cost, however. Remedy is a tame adventure that even older children could play without parents needing to be concerned. Puzzles are almost entirely inventory-based and in keeping with the story. There are many extrinsic things to examine and even some Easter eggs!
Remedy installs completely to the hard drive and does not require the CD-ROM to be in the drive after installation. The game ran smoothly from start to finish without any glitches along the way. Anyone familiar with the AdventureMaker engine will have no problem picking up and playing this title.
There are perhaps ten hours of gameplay and throughout I was very impressed with what I saw, even telling my wife on several occasions that it was the best game I had played for a long time. UNTIL the ending. In the world of terrible writing and gameplay in adventure games, Remedy rose high above many other titles. However, the ending is one of the worst I have seen. All of a sudden it was all over and the loose ends had been tied as if by magic. I’ve never been a fan of the Nancy Drew series for this reason. Consequently, this is only seven-eighths of a great game.
Final Grade: B+
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