Throughout the last century, many legendary detectives have rocked the world of fiction. But don’t bother bringing your quarters, this is one mystery even Encyclopedia Brown would sit out. When the fifth body turns up gamers spring to action as FBI agent Victoria McPherson, in the investigative thriller Still Life, for the Xbox.
Not since the latest Jackson trial has this much circumstantial evidence piled up — players need to use their super sleuthing abilities to collect clues and solve puzzles in order to advance. Tuck the kids in and turn off the lights. The mood, tone and dialog are all aimed at an older audience, F-bombs are dropped by characters and environments are dark and seedy.
The limited choose-your-own-adventure tale takes an interesting twist between two different timelines with parallel scenarios: present day Chicago and pre-WWII Prague. The strength of the title lies in its cinematic cut scenes, but it’s often undermined as players are strictly viewers, not participants. Some tasks are also extremely trivial, leaving players to wonder how getting their boss coffee helps put the killer behind bars? Replay value is questionable, once the case is cracked there’s little incentive to do it all over again. Plus, dialog scenes are often lengthy and require gamers to periodically press a button, more to stay awake then to further the conversation and storyline.
On the other hand, Still Life does offer unconventional game play and a gives players a chance to exercise their mind instead of their thumbs. At $20 a pop, this title is something to consider for those bored with traditional games or their Nancy Drew novels.
Best Feature: Slick graphics and soundtrack set an eerie mood and tone
Worst Feature: Puzzles with no logical solution (within the game) cause loss of interest or use of cheats.
Weirdest Feature: Some tasks are ridiculous…baking cookies, wtf?