They saw ya picking flowers (Still Life, 2005; Still Life 2, 2009)

Still Life games were released some years ago. But gameplay and visually wise, they belong to another era, point and click, more in the spirit of french productions from the nineties. So I was not at all surprised to find out these were produced by Microids, a small french company that actually havent made any breakthrough on the market despite almost 30 years of existence.

So this game is about the hunt for a serial killer. In Still Life, you get to play two investigators at a different time and places. In Still Life 2, you play an investigator and one of the victim of the serial killer, at the same time and places.

As said before, the gameplay and the interface is obsolete. I recently played Blade Runner and it felt better. In Still Life, you often see the same screens (to be expected considering the name), for instance when going from one place to one another, and spend quite some time watching your character moving following the exact same path. Plus sometimes you really have a hard time to see properly where your character is actually going or what he’s looking at, due to odd 3rd person view camera positioning, like in Alone in the Dark 2.

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The story is quite linear. You move freely but you really have to do everything in a specific order. And some task are really odd. For instance, at some point, how have to make cookies to progress in the story. Making cookies, really? If I were to make cookies, it would not be in a videogame, come on, for fuck sake! And the interface being quite poorly designed, you often spend more time to understand how to use it than what you should actually be doing. So I must say I had no shame reading from time to time walkthroughs, just to skip the boring parts or to stop fighting the interface.

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Sounds like a crappy game, no? Not entirely, I would not have played both if it was of no interest at all. The story is interesting. Both of these games are something like 10 hour long to complete. That’s not wasted time, even if seriously predictable in some regards, the story is well written, and even funny.

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I’d say, however, that even if the story is well written in general, and even though I can tolerate artistic licenses, there are some major inconsistencies now and then. For instance, in the first game, in the police station, you have archives that are monitored by camera and killing lasers (ahem). Ok. But then, next door is the armory of the bomb squad, with assault rifles and explosives. No camera there, no killing laser, the story actually makes you break into, easy-peasy, the armory in order to get to the archives. Military grade protection for archives of a local police station and dick for the heavy weaponry, seriously!? In the second game, the main character is able to do DNA searches on the field and on the fly, with instant results. Ok, that’s great, futuristic but why not. But then, the same character is forced to call the CSI expert to run a car plate to find who it belongs to. And get result only a few hours later. Please.

Actually, it’s way too french, even for me. Like nowadays french cinema and television. Not that you’re having a bad time with it; but it’s so far below the level of what is done anywhere else. Well hip, hip, hooray What a wonderful escape. And the way that I see, I see nothing at all.

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