Reviews: Hope Springs Eternal - The Second Carol Reed Mystery
Carol investigates the sudden disappearance of a friend and finds love, lies, murder and madness
Developer: MDNA Games
Publisher: MDNA Games
Genre: Mystery Adventure
Release Date: November 2005
Note: Originally published 5 December 2005
At the beginning of the year I had the pleasure of playing Remedy, a delightful mystery adventure from the husband and wife team of Mikeal and Eleen Nyqvist from Norrkoping, Sweden. Only ten months have passed and the Nyqvists have already released the sequel, Hope Springs Eternal.
If you haven't already, you should go back and read my review of Remedy. Hope Springs Eternal picks up where Remedy left off and continues without skipping a beat. If you read that review first, then I won't have to repeat myself here. But don't worry, you don't have to play Remedy first. The two games stand well on their own.
HSE is a pleasant little adventure game. There is no adrenaline-pumping action scene. There are no angst-producing ethical dilemmas. There are no hair-pulling puzzles which prevent you from continuing. You cannot die and I'm not sure if you can even get stuck. It is laid-back and charming. It is a peaceful game which you would play with your little sister or nephew just to see the pretty pictures, solve the simple puzzles and find the little objects tucked in corners and cabinets.
You play the part of Carol Reed, a sort of British Nancy Drew, fresh out of college who has decided to run a detective business in a small Swedish town. Not much happens here, most of your business involves finding lost cats (thankfully, not part of the game). But every now and then a real crime is committed and the police may need just a little help to point them in the right direction.
The story is just as straightforward and believable as it was in Remedy, although you have now graduated from kidnapping to murder. Your friend's mother calls you over to ask you to find out what happen to the local school teacher who has been missing for several days. You soon find that the teacher has helped a convicted murderer escape and they are now both missing. Was the prisoner framed? Or has the teacher been conned? You are the only person interested in finding the truth.
The authors even removed the small plot hole from Remedy and this time you get to go to the police as soon as you have solid evidence. Such deft storytelling is rare and I award it a full A, not for doing anything new or clever, but for doing it right.
Same as before. Classic 2D slideshow. While there was still a bit of disorientation while moving in and around the castle, most of it had been cleaned up and it was a definite improvement over the first game. So I give it an improved grade of B-.
Most of the puzzles are of the “inventory” variety. You still have to go all around town to find what you need, but at least you don't have to steal anything more valuable than a pencil. Another plot hole plugged from the original game.
There are also six logical puzzles. They are quite easy for the experienced adventure gamer and should prove to be no problem for even the novice. But should you find any of them to be a bother, there is a ByPass button in the lower right-hand corner which instantly solves the puzzle and allows you to continue the game. The only penalty for using the ByPass is that you will lose one of the gold stars you can get at the end. No big deal.
I will also mention that one of the logical puzzles is my favorite type of puzzle, the Slider! Now, before you groan and whine your way to the ByPass button, let me point out that once you know how to slide the blocks, there is no difference between a Slider and a Jig Saw puzzle. Except that the Slider has all the pieces right side up and in the correct orientation. The only frustration comes from not knowing how to get your pieces to where you know they must go.
With the removal of petty larceny, I increment the puzzle score to B+.
The same clever technique which the Nyqvists introduced in Remedy is continued in HSE. I gave it an A back then for innovation. But what should I give it now since it has now been done before? With the understanding that all the praise which I heaped on it the first time is still valid, I give it a solid B+. Still excellent, but no longer an innovation.
Also, the models are still real people and not poster children for the Anorexia Society. Real, that is with the possible exception of the gentleman pictured who begs the question, “At what point do body piercings cease to be art and actually become obsessive self mutilation?” Gooooood question.
Same as before. Good quality. Good voice acting. Very real. A solid B.
Again, very consistent with the first work. No frustrations from not knowing what to do next. Even if you aren't sure, you can quickly go to every place on your map. There is never more than a dozen and you will be told if there is no reason to go there.
No frustrations with not being able to solve a puzzle since you can always press the ByPass button. The only problem would be the classic missed inventory item. But if you are careful to examine every screen and look in every direction, you shouldn't miss any. Just take it easy and don't rush things.
Again, a solid B.
Hope Springs Eternal is a worthy successor to Remedy. It retains all that's good and even improves on the few rough spots.
HSE also has quite a few Easter Eggs in it. Can you find where a certain Mr. Sluganski is mentioned?
While this game will not be considered a genre-defining milestone and playing it will not be a date to go down in history, it will be like a pleasant picnic lunch in the park with your loved ones. Playing it will be a time fondly remembered and an experience which everyone should have.
Final Grade: B+
Click here to Buy Now or Download a Free Trial from the Just Adventure Shop
500MB hard drive space
Game runs in 1024x768 resolution