Still Life Review


Hmm. Well then. See, the thing is that you really do have to be careful what you wish for because sometimes you just might get it. Of course the problem with that is it might not be everything you were expecting and then you come away disappointed. Thatís what happened with me and a game for the Xbox called Still Life published by The Adventure Company. I was really looking forward to playing this game. Now that I have...um...well, it wasnít as cool as I was hoping for. Why? Letís find out...

Still Life is an ďold-schoolĒ adventure game, kind of like Myst. For those unfamiliar with the genre, shame on you! Basically adventure games have you play a main character where you go along solving some bizarre puzzles and clicking your mouse all over the screen trying to find a single pixel that will react. Adventure games in general have not made a very smooth transition over to the console world in party because a mouse works much better for moving around a screen than does a controller. Another reason is, reason. Adventure games often require more thinking than pure reflex. Console gamers tend to rather blow a wall up than figure out the puzzle required to open the door. So, if a slower paced game sounds really lame and boring to you then stay away from adventure games. But what you can get from these types of games are usually good stories and satisfaction in solving the puzzles. Still Life gets half of these right.

You play two characters in Still Life in different cites and, more interestingly, in different eras. The modern character is Victoria McPherson a FBI agent in Chicago. Your other alter-ego is Victoriaís grandfather, Gus McPherson who happened to star in his own adventure game a few years ago called Post Mortem. You bounce between Prague, where Gus is hanging out, and the story in Chicago with Victoria. Things in the Windy City are not going very well as there seems to be a serial killer roaming around and the police are nowhere close to catching the killer. The story begins with a very nifty looking, albeit disturbing, intro that the game is never able to live up to. One of my high hopes for Still Life revolved around the creepy subject matter. Iím not sure what that says about me and I probably donít want to know. The premise of the game comes across like it would be a cross between the movie Se7en (or Seven if you prefer) and the TV show CSI. It should be pointed out that Still Life is rated M and though a bunch of foul language and some pretty disturbing crimes scenes it deserves the rating. To be honest I suppose that in some ways it did stay creepy and a little disturbing, but the gameplay got to be too frustrating and constraining to enjoy it. But now Iím showing my hand too soon, so more on that later...

OK, so Victoria is a young FBI agent trying to help solve a series of brutal murders. This storyline is nice and strong. Pretty soon in the game Victoria finds some old files left by her grandfather, Gus, and it is through her reading these files that you end up playing as Gus in 1930's Prague. Gus is trying to solve his own series of murders and you will start to see some similarities in the current case and the old case and that element adds some interesting twists. In addition to the story Still Life nails the atmosphere through sound, music and graphics. Prague feels a bit nasty which it should since the killer likes to practice his trade on prostitutes. The graphics are very strong (720p support for the HD crowd) but thatís almost to be expected with adventure games. The backgrounds are pre-rendered and very detailed and I did find myself looking around at times just to check out the detail. The voice acting is mixed. I liked Victoria, Gus, and most of the characters, but I found some of the voices way too stereotypical and almost offensive, especially the black police officer.