Still Life

Still Life

Still Life

If life stays still, then the story must be endless...

There's a peculiar thing about adventure game reviews. Aside from the tedious inevitability of the mainstream press attempting some widespread analysis of the entire genre, there comes alongside them the frothing insanity of the adventure gaming specialist press. These poor starving beings wander through their lives wraith-like, long gaunt faces, bony fingers clasping with a rigor mortis grip around any release that might feature some notion of pointing and clicking. Letting these people review adventure games is like letting junkies review heroin. However cut the purity might be, however poor quality, whatever diseases might worm through their bodies as a result of playing, dammit man, it's a hit. Give it a 10.

Adventure games have so much potential. They clearly need to make that next leap forward that has been so glaringly absent for the last decade (it was once the genre that reinvented its interface and ethos every couple of years, ensuring it remained fresh, challenging, and on its toes, and very much of interest to the wider gaming public), and once it's discovered and implemented, our lives will be all the prettier. Until that time, it appears the only possibilities are constant attempts to dig up the skeleton of the past, and drape upon it whatever ill-fitting clothes the developers feel appropriate. In the case of Still Life, these garments are some fairly nice ideas of murder mystery across a broad timeframe.

It all begins in familiar enough territory. You begin playing as Victoria McPherson, a young FBI agent with some manner of mysterious past, and an attic full of emotional baggage. Things begin at an appropriately brutal murder scene, the conditions of the building as gruesome as the mess made of the victim in the bath. In a manner reminiscent of the dreadful CSI games, you're asked to scour the scene using a few forensic tools, which amounts to clicking the inventory items on any of the (eventually) discovered hotspots, until it tells you you're done. It's a troubling start - such interaction abusing the player in the laziest possible way - but finds forgiveness in its sinister results.

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