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Post Mortem Review

publisher: The Adventure Company
developer: Microids
genre: RPG

PII-350, 64MB RAM, D3D 16MB video card
ESRB rating: M

release date: Feb 27, 03
» All About Post Mortem on ActionTrip

December 27, 2002
Dusan "Lynx" Katilovic

These days, every true classic adventure fan must face the fact that there are less and less genuine adventure games on the PC market. One of the rare companies that constantly defy this rule is the French publisher Microids, which published several really high quality titles over the last couple of years. A special place among all these is reserved for Syberia, a game that initiated a real renaissance in this clinically dead genre (although it didn't get a very high score on this site - Ed). Luckily for us, the Euro branch of Action got a chance to play Post Mortem already, and make their verdict known to the rest of the world.

What would you think about a person who is both a painter and a private eye? Weird? Perverse? Well, you wouldn't be too far away from the truth (why in the hell is this weird, or perverse? - Ed). The hero of Post Mortem, Gus McPherson, is just that - he came from the US to Paris sometime in 1920s wanting to leave behind him the life of a PI, and to begin a career as a painter.

As the story develops, we find out that he was also accused as an accomplice in some cases he investigated, and that he took part in some occult activities thanks to his paranormal abilities. No man can run from his destiny: one day, Gus is visited by a certain Sophia Blake (she's got that "Goth mistress" sex appeal about her), who wants him to investigate a gruesome crime that took place in a luxurious hotel in Paris. Her sister's and her brother-in-law's heads have been severed, and the motive for this remained unknown.

This eerie, realistic and unbelievably intriguing introduction followed by the high-quality cut-scenes, is but the first step into what is probably the best adventure game made in the last couple of years. Running characters and foreground objects in 3D and background sequences in flat 2D (the cut-scenes are done in full 3D), Post Mortem is a standard setting adventure game! It has been designed to present the magical combination of the fear of the unknown, movie-like suspense, and hints of the occult - similar to what we had a chance to see in the brilliant TV-series Millennium.

The need to distinguish the rational from the imaginary will make you play Post Mortem, either till you finish it, or till you drop dead yourself! The game is extremely dark, and I am not only speaking of the graphics; throughout the game you can simply feel an evil menacing presence lurking from each shadow. The streets in the game are spitting images of Paris some eighty years ago. The powerful graphics engine (which is actually an improved version of the engine used in Road to India) proved to be the optimal engine for this game. It will let you go from one location to another and freely rotate while standing. During the frequent dialogues, the camera will change to a third-person perspective.

The dialogues are a crucial component for progressing through this game. They usually contain key information or at least hints to solving puzzles, and therefore, you will have to concentrate on the text, use your ability to distinguish important from unimportant (provided you have it) and memorize the most important data. All the puzzles, keys to new locations and dialogues are in a way interloped - something somebody said will give you a hint to solving a puzzle which will then let you access a new location, and then give you some new discourse options. Post Mortem features altogether about twenty characters, all of which are in a way connected to the case. All your dialogues will be stored in the archives, which will allow you to refresh your memory at any time if you get stuck.

The only thing that will bother you is the awful lip synchronization. Instead of following the text, the lips will just randomly open and close, making the entire game look a bit more like an amateur effort. Still, this cannot be taken too severely, as this is the only possible objection on the technical side of the game. Everything else is just as good as it gets: the graphics are extremely detailed with beautifully colored textures, and the music is perfectly becoming for the surroundings. The cut-scenes are also a great boon, and will kick in at the most intense moments in the game, thus adding to the tension and the nail-biting atmosphere of Post Mortem. The cut-scenes will also focus your attention on the most important details of what has transpired, and what is about to happen...

Post Mortem is substantially different from the multitude of totally linear adventure games which come down to clicking all possible options and reaching the one final conclusion. The unexpected twists and findings will help you really get into this title and see it as a worthy challenge, ideal for long winter nights. The Non-linear storyline offers different paths for completion, and the game has multiple endings.

I wholeheartedly recommend Post Mortem to all true fans of suspenseful horror stories; the game is beautifully conceived and just as well executed.


8.8   Very Good

Engrossing storyline with some nice twists; incredibly becoming moody and dark atmosphere; dialogue and puzzle complexity.

Poor lip synchronization; the 2D backgrounds can appear a bit too static at times.



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