Still Life 2 would be better as non-talkie

Old School to the Core

Still Life 2 is yet another game I procured lately. School is out so I’m living it up, so to speak :P I don’t have that much time to play during the school year.

I’m a big fan of adventure games (it’s a pity that there are precious few of them coming out these days) and SL2 can be classified as an old school, point and click adventure. Which is kinda good and bad. It’s good, because point and click adventures were really cool back in the day. It’s bad, because you would expect a little more innovation from a fairly recent product. SL2 is old school to the core – complete with maddening pixel hunting puzzles.

The controls are a little clunky. LMB takes you to the inventory, and RMB is used for interaction. The mouse pointer changes shape when you hover over an “active” region, but you can only use items when you stand in specific place. When you use an item you need to open the full screen inventory, press on an item, and then hit use. The item will be used with the active region you are standing on. Funny thing is, that the developers didn’t bother to animate the “use” actions from different angles. So if you are off the mark by a fraction of an inch or facing the wrong direction, your character will magically “jump” into the “correct” position when you exit the inventory. Very crude. :(

The dialogs are equally clunky. You essentially have two choices LMB and RMB. LMB usually produces to-the-point questions, and RMB results in some personal remarks, or light-heated wise cracking. You usually must click through all the LMB options, but you can skip the RMB ones completely. In result he conversations are absolutely linear. Your only option is to skip the comedy and concentrate on the case. :(

Once you go through the important conversation, the characters revert to some standard dialog sequence in which they essentially tell you to get lost. These range from very short, to fairly long exchanges that are impossible to skip. This is fairly annoying, especially when you are stuck. Sometimes you want to check if a character has something new to say, and you get stuck listening to a 2 minute dialog that you already heard 7 times before. Agh…

SL2 tries to be funny really hard. I would say, too hard. For a murder mystery game, the main character is cracking to many weak jokes. Sometimes I wish she would stop, because the silly remarks completely do not fit the general mood of the game. The scenery looks like something taken out of a Resident Evil game, but the dialogs sound like a poor imitation of Monkey Island humor. Geez… Pick one or the other.

Speaking about the dialogs… The voice acting is horrid. The voice inflictions change randomly throughout each conversation, ranging from upbeat to grim, and brooding. The game sounds as if someone wrote down all the lines, on index cards, then shuffled them, and then taped them in random order. This is especially evident when reading the jokes and wise cracks. More often than not, the actors completely misinterpret the line (most likely reading it out of context).

I could understand these shortcomings if the game had a really dynamic dialog system. You can’t really help the slight variations when you mix the lines in semi-random order. But since all the conversations in the game are almost painfully linear they could have at least made sure that the voice acting is consistent. Besides, Fahrenheit had very dynamic dialogs and yet the voice acting was top notch.

I seriously thing this game would actually be better if it was a no-talkie. Perhaps I should play it with the sound off?

All in all, I’m not terribly impressed with this game. The story seems somewhat intriguing, so I’ll keep playing for a while more. I’m not sure if I can stand the shitty dialog and voice acting all the way till the end :P

Update Sun, January 01 2006, 04:49 PM

Nope, I can’t finish it. The game pisses me off. It’s boring, and annoying. Don’t buy this crap! I totally gave up on it and uninstalled it to make space for Fable and Brothers in Arms :P

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