Still life, near perfection is captured


Ace detective Manny Pardo Victoria McPherson is on the hunt for the vicious Miami mutilator Chicago ripper in Still life, a point and click adventure/puzzle/detective game that pits you against some classic puzzles.

This game has been on my radar for a year now after seeing a quick review of it. So without spoiling the story (it ends super dumb) and any of the puzzles, I am going to fess up that I used a walkthrough for 2 puzzles I got stuck on and one because I felt the game screwed me out of getting the clues for it and on another because I genuinely got stumped. This is to my eternal shame, but I’ll hopefully show why later:

Firstly, I like puzzle games, but I prefer the Professor Layton style of puzzle game. Just give me all the information I need to figure a puzzle out and let me get to work. Point and click adventure games are good, but they have some stigma attached to them that would put a lot of people off. First of all, a point and click adventure game in the Sierra style can be sadistically cruel to the player: You can miss turning the tap on in chapter one and not find out until chapter eight that you need to flood the place you get back to in order to retrieve a gem. Ooops! Better start over! These had more in common with arcade machines designed to have difficulty spikes in order to kill the player and eat a few more coins before they complete the game. Secondly, they have the element of “you must follow the developer’s particular line of logic to defeat the puzzle”. Knowing what you should even be doing shouldn’t be part of the puzzle. Luckily, Still Life manages to avoid most of this.

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There is always an answer to a puzzle, you just need to find it.

As your explore the world of still life, you’ll see the game is split into two parts. World building, characters, finding out the right place to start searching and then puzzles. Puzzles are basically the locked doors of this game- if you can’t do them, you aren’t progressing. This is true for both Victoria in the modern day and her grandfather’s story in the 1929. Having the game play in two time zones like this can keep things from getting too slow, which I appreciate. One thing I can praise the game for is that the puzzles feel of their time- Victoria has to solve certain logic puzzles, one case being how to get prints, and her grandfather has to solve older ones- picture examinations, lockpicking, etc

Basically, whether you are finding a way to collect all the evidence for a CSI or lockpicking, you are nearly always engaged in this game. So for a super cheap puzzle game with a good story (except for the ending, but no spoilers), this is a good find. When I finish Still Life 2, I’ll let you know how the two compare. Just a brief note, there is a prequel called Post Mortem, but again I have not played it. It does things from a first person perspective, however, so that might throw some people off.

Now for the two puzzles I could not solve. One was for my ignorance, one was where I will call the game out on for being needlessly harsh. So, as with most confessions, let’s start with the worst one: my ignorance. Victoria, being the loving daughter she is, agrees to bake some cookies for her dad at Christmas. This is her grandmother’s recipe:

1 cup of love

1/2 cup of generosity

2 cups of commitment

1 cup of sweetness

1/2 cup of integrity

1 tablespoon of romance

1 teaspoon of sensuality

1 common sense

In a bowl, cream together generosity, sweetness and love to give your man a sweetheart.

To give him devotion, sift together commitment, sensuality and romance. Blend devotion to his sweetheart.

Finally, add intelligence, a mix of common sense and integrity and beat it with the rest to make your perfect man.

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When I get older, I’m going to write down all my secrets in code. Even my phone number will be in code!

Figured it out? Well, most I could figure out was that 1 common sense must be the egg because that’s the only one that doesn’t have a measurement of cup or spoonful.  Now, you are all better at cooking and food preparation than I, so I have no doubt you will figure this out, but I was stumped. No other puzzle in the world has reminded me so painfully of my culinary imbecility.

The other puzzle was caught me completely out of the blue. Exploring the lobby to a high class S&M club, I examined the room. Victoria gave brief descriptions of the paintings and what they read. Getting to the end of the room, there is a door, with the code  hidden in riddle. The answer comes from the paintings, but there are too many paintings for the combination on the door, so you can’t just guess your way in. Well, Victoria must have lost her sight, because she never reads out the descriptions of the paintings on the canvas again, so why give me the option to get the puzzle’s clues right just the once? It doesn’t do this before or after in the game, so maybe just a developer oversight. So, I was clueless to what the paintings said and which ones to choose to unlock the door. I guess more fool me for not knowing that was going to happen. The Sierra gods of point and click are proud for this offering, Still Life, you may sleep easy in your bed that your summers and wet and your winters clear.

So yeah, Still Life, a good, cheap, puzzle game! Almost perfect, except for the ending and the one minor slip up.

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