Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mariann Wilson
...a novel approach
There are a few phrases which come to mind when I think about this adventure. 'A breath of fresh air', 'a lyrical melody', and even 'a soft summer dream' all seem to fit with the look and feel of this first offering by independent game developers, Mikael & Eleen Nyqvist of MDNA Games. Remedy is a basic first person, slide show, point & click adventure (although its sub-genre should be penned as a detective story, or a mysterious whodunit, as it were), and it seemed to be just what the doctor ordered after doing battle on my PS2 with Count Olaf and his cohorts. I found the game to be, for the most part, enticingly relaxing. There are no timed sequences here, no mazes or slider puzzles with which to contend. The protagonist never faints away, and cannot die.
Just a very simple story really, but one that is, for the most part, entirely captivating to its audience. I especially enjoyed the way the Nyqvists chose to open the game. No cut scene at the beginning at all. We are just plopped into the gaming environment, very similar to an old television program I used to love to watch known as Quantum Leap. We know absolutely nothing, which forces us to explore our surroundings. To my mind, for this type of game, it's really quite a brilliant tactic when one thinks about it. For it is through this exploration that we establish (as gamers) who we are, where we are, and why we are there. So the ability to discover or 'sleuth' becomes paramount.
Now Mikael's underscore becomes important here as well, as it 'sets the color' for the rest of the adventure. It's quiet, yet urging... repetitive and insistent... similar to the way we think when we are trying to figure out a problem or come to a conclusion about something. We go over and over it until it becomes part of us. Very well done.
While looking at and playing through this detective story, I felt that the strongest points here were the storyline and the visuals. I found it quite enjoyable that, for the most part, one had a choice about how the story would develop, meaning that it was not a strictly linear game. In the various locations where we find ourselves, as certain tasks were completed, new options would open up on the city map. It is then up to the gamer as to which place to go next. I think that this is really quite important for a story such as this because it sets up the 'RHF' or Red Herring Factor to come into play, which is key for the total enjoyment of trying to solve the mystery. The 'look' of the piece also lends itself well to the story. The best way I can describe it is this...
What if you are walking down a busy street one day, and as you are strolling along, you pass by an art gallery. The art gallery is having an exhibition of famous watercolor landscapes of Scandinavia. Being a curious sort (as we adventure gamers tend to be), in you go, and before you know it you are absolutely taken by a particular watercolor depicting an inviting scene of Spring and an utterly exquisite park at midday. It's vibrant, yet softly inviting, with the sunlight filtering through the lush greenery and dancing merrily upon the heads of the sumptuous blooms, beckoning you to enter into its world. Calling you... bidding you come... now!
What if it was possible to enter into the world of the watercolor? Would you go?
That's how the visuals are in Remedy. It's as though you have stepped through a watercolor in an art gallery. A most impressive notion. The Nyqvists have taken over 1,000 photographs and have textured them to appear as though they are works of art. Watercolors. But not the characters, just everything else. Quite novel, and it works so well with the story for this slide show, point & click adventure. My willing suspension of disbelief was so complete that I was immediately drawn into its spell... and I believe you will be too.
As the adventure opens, you find yourself in an apartment. You play the role of Carol Reed, a young Englishwoman from Nottingham who is apartment sitting for her friend, Lovisa, in Norrköping, Sweden. You receive a letter from the sister of another friend of yours, one Conrad Vogel, telling you about his untimely death. Enclosed within this letter is a note he was writing to you about something that he was investigating just before he died. So this is how the 'setup' commences. Your friend was a Private Investigator whom you've been helping recently back in merry old England. But Conrad promptly 'kicks off ', leaving you the whole bag of chips, and a lot of questions...
How did Conrad really die? Coronary, or murder most foul? Who has been following him? Who kidnapped the lady he was working for? How do I get that box open that's in Conrad's boot, and why do graveyard attendants always seem to be napping when you want to speak to them again???
These are just a few of the many questions, conundrums and riddles faced by our intrepid Carol Reed. Apparently Carol has a strong penchant for sleuthing, which is very important in a detective game, and in Remedy, she gets to do just that. Sort of a Swedish version of Nancy Drew, but there aren't any telephone clues. I'm not going to tell you anything more about the plot, or what happens, or why the game is called Remedy for that matter. My reasons are simple. It's a detective game, and I've probably told you much too much already. But I will tell you that I did find this game to be a pleasant evening's diversion, truly enjoyable, and worth every cent that I paid for it.
... additional thoughts
Remedy installed and loaded for me without any problems, and I experienced no crashes during the five hours it took for me to play it. There are unlimited saves (that's a big plus with me), and once the game is installed, you can put the CD away and just play it from your hard drive to your heart's content. Most of the puzzles are inventory based, which also allowed for combinations occasionally. There are a few 'color code' puzzles and a musical puzzle.
The plot of Remedy was entertaining and the twists and 'red herrings' that I found in it (sorry, no pun intended) held my interest quite nicely. Most of the characters' voiceovers worked well within the storyline. Sara Louise Eriksson, who plays the part of Carol Reed, was exceptional. Her British accent had an adorable Yorkshire quality to it. She was a joy to listen to.
And I must say that the Nyqvits possess an extremely dry sense of humor. I won't tell you where this happens, but there was one instance where I nearly fell off my chair laughing when Carol tries to operate a certain piece of machinery, finds that she is unable to, and promptly exclaims, "It's stttuuuck!" a la Kate Walker of Syberia fame. Very funny, and totally unexpected. There are a few more of these 'Easter eggs' in the game too, but for now I will be prudent and not mention them here. Guess you'll just have to play the game and discover them for yourselves.
The story was well written, yet as good as it was I kept wishing for more plot exposition, especially toward the end. But for a first time 'round the block, I do feel that the Nyqvists have created a nice bit of interactive entertainment for the adventure community. I would like to offer my sincere congratulations on this, their first adventure game project.
It is my hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to pass through this 'Watercolor Painting' and play Remedy, for this independent game is one that should not be missed. I look forward to the Nyqvist's next production.
© March 2005 Mariann Wilson
Developed (2004) and published by MDNA Games.
Rated: NR for Not Rated
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: Pentium 400 MHz Processor; Windows 98 / 2000 / XP (Windows 2000 and XP Recommended); 32 MB RAM; CD-ROM Drive; 2 MB Video Card; Sound Card; 300 MB of Free Hard Drive Space; Mouse
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