Still Life Hands-On Impressions - Overview

In this upcoming mature-themed adventure game, you'll play as a detective who's in pursuit of a deranged serial killer. We take an up-close look.

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There's nothing quite like a good mystery to set the tone for a graphical adventure game. You basically explore, interrogate others, and solve puzzles by using key items in your inventory, in addition to investigating crucial situations. This is the backdrop for Still Life, an adventure game from the creators of such adventure offerings as Syberia and Post Mortem, both of which Still Life will actually borrow elements. You'll play as female detective Victoria McPherson, who is actually the granddaughter of Gus McPherson, the detective-hero of Post Mortem who possessed some psychic tendencies.

This graphical adventure game will challenge you to solve the mystery behind a series of gruesome murders.
This graphical adventure game will challenge you to solve the mystery behind a series of gruesome murders.

You'll control Victoria from a third-person perspective as she walks and runs her way through different areas that are shown from preset camera angles, which is similar to Syberia. She's investigating a series of mysterious prostitute murders in Chicago. Five cases have been reported so far, and at the beginning of the game, McPherson arrives at the fifth slaying. At the crime scene, she meets up with several members of her department, including a foul-mouthed beat cop who's guarding the front door of the run-down building. You'll be able to interact with characters in at least two ways. You can make standard conversation, but you'll also find that in some dialogues, you can reply to other characters with either "professional" responses (by pressing the left mouse button) or with "personal" responses (by pressing the right mouse button). (Of course, on the Xbox, the left and right trigger buttons are used instead of the left and right mouse buttons.) Some characters in some investigations will only answer to specific kinds of responses, whereas others, regardless of what you do, will curse a blue streak.

Still Life is clearly a game for mature players, because not only does it feature plenty of colorful language, but also it will have no shortage of gore. In fact, McPherson's partner is a gutless cop with no stomach for the job at hand. However, despite this, Victoria moves on to meet both a fellow crime investigator and her mentor, who passes her a forensic kit that includes brushes and plastic bags for the collection of samples and evidence to help advance her investigation. The kit, which includes a black-light filter and luminol (which reveals bloodstains), must be used before you can take photos of the crime scene.

Photos will be crucial to McPherson's investigation, along with the rest of the items in her inventory. Still Life's inventory will be "panoramic," at least for photos. That is, you can zoom in and scroll around any photos and compare them in real time to your surroundings to note any discrepancies. However, Victoria's connection with her psychic grandfather will prove to be at least as important a tool. In some cases, you'll uncover clues that will actually cause you to flash back to your grandfather's adventures in Prague decades earlier. You'll even play as him in a washed-out, gray-brown world as he pieces together additional clues on his own case, which bears a strange resemblance to the one his granddaughter eventually gets assigned to: a series of prostitute murders that are tied to a series of painted portraits of the murdered women.

You'll need to use your wits and your forensics tools to solve crime.
You'll need to use your wits and your forensics tools to solve crime.

Still Life has a very clean visual presentation that actually recalls graphically impressive horror games like the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series. The crime scenes that both McPherson detectives visit are appropriately gritty and highly detailed. The game also features fully spoken character dialogue, as well as subtitles, much like Syberia and Post Mortem. In addition, like those games, Still Life uses a clean-looking interface with a streamlined inventory menu that seems easy enough to use both with a keyboard and with an Xbox controller. Still Life is scheduled for release on the PC and Xbox in April.

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