Curiously Creepy Case*****
BASED ON COMPLETED GAME
One of the lovely things about this series is that each story stands alone, and is sufficient in itself, while they also linked by the illustrious career of the famous detective M. Dupin, and of course, ourselves. With each new mystery our role has grown, and this investigation finds us with not only our own office, but a lab as well, where we must analyse vital evidence! [Note: I suspect this is a CE only extra]
SIGHTS & SOUNDS
Beautiful hand painted graphics, clear and colourful, with excellent cut scenes. The acting is very good, in particular the melancholy twins are very convincing. The locations are richly detailed and varied, a delight to the eye.
The soundtrack is great. The series signature tune is played, at times, by piano solo at first, and sounds wonderful. It is joined by mysterious but mild music, that is relaxing as well as atmospheric. The voiceovers are nicely done, although some of the accents were a little too broadly American for my taste. In some locations, there are the creepiest whispers and giggles. Enough to curdle the blood. *grin*
We have been called to the estate home of the Usher family by their doctor. The last survivors of the family are twins who have been ailing all their lives with a mysterious illness. As well, each suffers whatever befalls the other, and they are both continually weakened by it. Now, Roderick is deathly ill, and Madeline has disappeared! It is up to us to find answers before the twins bring about the Fall Of The House Of Usher. The back story is delivered to us in various ways, some character reminiscences, combined with sepia animated sketching. I feel the explanation for all this, when it comes, is unclear and somehow unsatisfying. I think there should have been more evidence pointing in that direction.
Fun stuff here! There are a lot of things to do and to find. The HOPs (12) come in several flavours: interactive word list, riddles, silhouettes, fragmented objects, matching pairs and multiples of, also dioramas . Some scenes are visited twice, but when you return to a scene, it will be with a different search method. If you wish, you can play a very intriguing and original Match-3 game that is easy to learn but fun to master. Definitely good. There are mostly easy puzzles (13), some with a new twist, and a few hard ones. You can make some of them more difficult by choosing that option within the puzzle itself.
As with all the Dark Tales, this game is not particularly hard, but we can customise the difficulty levels. And there is plenty of help for those who want it. We have an interactive map and directional hint. There's the journal, which was left behind by a previous investigator. He took photos, so matching them to the scene, gives us valuable pointers about where to go next. Parts of a message appear on the back of each photo and the message is compiled in the journal. At one point, even the Usher’s black cat gives us a nudge in the right direction. We can also take photographs of locations for ourselves for our office photo album, again, a CE extra, I think.
Early in the game we come upon a “Reborn One”, who takes the role of the normally cute companion (but we already have M. Dupin!). Certainly not cute, it is interesting and visually striking. Its particular skill is to ‘create life’. The Reborn One is an interesting character visually, but has nothing to say for itself. There is a helpful mouse with us for part of the investigation, and the weirdest thing. A very amusing and active but ugly rat, who sits to the left of the (lockable) inventory bar for the entire game, without making any contribution whatsoever other than comic relief.
I’m officially hooked on the remarkable M. Dupin, and am sure it is only a matter of time before the detective agency becomes a family business. So I am necessarily biased. But this is an exceptional game regardless, and delightfully dark. Although all of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are creepy, Dark Tales games usually haven’t been so much creepy as mysterious. This one is the creepiest of the series, sometimes scary, often startlingly unexpected. Also lovely, involving and intriguing. And most of all, fun.
I recommend this game!