Back to Adventure-Archiv starting page
Hope Springs Eternal - A Carol Reed Mystery
Release date: 10/2005
Developer/publisher: MDNA Games
Game language: English
Age recommendation: 11 years and up
A review by André 27th October 2005
(Translated by slydos)
Hope Springs Eternal - A Carol Reed Mystery is a mystery adventure played in ego-perspective. The game was created by Swedish independent developers MDNA with the popular Adventure Maker program. I looked forward to this game for a long time. The reason for this is very simple - its predecessor "Remedy" - likewise with P.I. Carol Reed as main character - succeeded one of the most surprising debuts last year in the independent scene and attracted me among other things because of its unique artistic style.
The story again takes place in Sweden, more exactly said Noerkoepping. The story begins, where the first part ended, what however doesn't mean that you must have played Remedy, in order to understand this game. But who has already played it, will surely remember that the private investigator Conrad died. And while our heroine - the Englishwoman Carol Reed - was before still busy, to find out the cause for his death, she thereby apparently began to enjoy this kind of occupation. So she now lives in the house of her friend Lovisa, who's again out of town, steps into Conrad's shoes and is available as full-time P.I., so far without any big job. That is to change however with a telephone call. Conrad's sister calls and reports, that her fellow worker Anna has disappeared. She's already behaved strange for some days. So we start out to Anna's home, where we find the first clues. One trace leads to the next and thus more and more new locations get visible on our map, as we can find it in many classics (e.g. the old Sherlock Holmes games).
As said, predecessor Remedy with its beautiful graphics already fascinated me and here again the Swedish influence of course affects the graphical realization. Exactly like Remedy, there are "only" fixed photo images and dialogues are actually presented by a sequence of a few (perhaps four or five) photos. All pictures are so marvelously graphically edited that the whole game nearly looks like one big exhibition. Photo details were edited with a blurring brush, their colors exaggerated, so that each picture looks like a small work of art. The pictures don't look like they were lined up without connection, insert fine into the context and serve the story.
Again we explore typical Swedish dwellings, where we can enter every room. We can examine everything and discover a lot of typical Swedish furniture and accessories in close ups and detailed studies.
It is noticeable, how tastily and detailed the Swedish houses are furnished. Old and new is artfully arranged, Ikea (e.g. the "Lampan" table lamp on the windowsill for 2,90 euro : -) ) mixed with antiques, art combined with kitsch. I also liked, how the colors are used here. Walls and furniture are courageously, but skillfully painted. So everything looks a bit more colourful and cheerful, but at the same time also more romantic and more tasteful, if I compare the furniture for example with the "typical German" interior. I only ask myself whether the shown contents really corresponds to reality and many Swedish rooms actually look this way or whether just the developers have the right touch.
At least the living style approximates my taste a lot (and somehow also my furniture). But not only the old furniture and accessories but also the other scenery like the junkyard or the overgrown meadows and fields with scrap cars or arbours, where the ravages of time eroded the metal and wood, and everywhere is peeling coat, awake positive childhood memories, when I explored comparable places in every detail. In addition we of course get to see the roads, yards and corridors, the external views of buildings, a castle, the harbour, plentiful park etc. ... simply everything. Speak: you get a lot to know about the living and life culture and notice that the authors feel very comfortable in their hometown. In view of the beautiful pictures this is very plausible.
The puzzles are actually well built in. They are varied and most of them not extremely difficult. There are e.g. the popular (at least for me) classic slider puzzles, where a picture is divided into squares and must be reassambled and some puzzles, where buttons must be pressed in the correct order. With a little trial-and-error these should not be a bigger problem. Inventory objects shouldn't be missing, which we can use in various ways. From time to time items must be combined within the inventory too.
But there are still many other kinds of tasks. In order to win a ticket for example, we must answer questions of a quiz correctly and we can only enter a flat after distracting the watchful caretaker. It's a new feature, that you now can use a special button to bypass several puzzles of the more dificult kind. But I did not find most of the six puzzles that difficult actually. There are no timed tasks and you also cannot die by the way.
Sometimes hints, where to go next, are a bit rare and the whole area is huge, so a bit too much walking and searching is required. And from time to time, after I had searched everything 20 times or more, it was enough for me and I grabbed the walkthrough. But that's only a very small point of criticism, because in most cases ther are enough hints and you're very well led through the story in general.
The calm, spherical and minimalistic sounds match the atmosphere of the game excellently. Likewise the voice acting cannot be criticized. Especially the Swedish accent was very nice. As a rule I'd prefer, if one could adjust music and language separately. But here this missing possibility does not really carry weight because of the unobtrusively mixed background music. I stress that again and again so persistent, since there were already other games e.g. the not so dissimilar "The Sydney Mystery", which I couldn't play, because the music simply plastered everything in this actually promising looking game.
There are no animated sequences, but instead also no crashes, no freezing and no flickering screen. The game simply runs smooth. The language is easy to understand and the sub-titles are clear and faded in long enough to read them. The music does not interfere with the voice overs. There are sufficient save slots integrated in the concise option menu, which opens if you touch the top of the screen with your cursor. The point+click mouse controls are easy and intuitive. Regarding controls and handling the game is again just as error free as its predecessor, as it is otherwise rarely to find. It's nearly getting a bit weird.
In other respects Hope, like Shady Brook too, is once again an adventure game, which keeps up an old, lately somewhat forgotten tradition, to house eastereggs, e.g. small hidden gags. On the basis of such refinement one can also recognize the amount of idealism and enthusiasm of the developers.
The proven system of the predecessor was taken over and hardly changed. Why not. After all there are other series, successfully continuing this strategy, e.g. the brilliant Nancy Drew series, which in principle changed only little and nevertheless doesn't become boring. Perhaps the authors develop their character in upcoming parts, so that we get quasi a permanent Swedish (or Swedish-English, because Carol is an Englishwoman) answer to her American colleague with Carol Reed. B.t.w. identical to Nancy Drew is the (economical) choice of the intro/outro in letter form in place of an intro or outro film. The end of the game lets strongly hope that it will probably continue (hopefully soon) with a new case taking place in a sect milieu.
Chracteristic is the unmistakable graphic style, which changing the artful photographed and set in scene fixed images of the second part in a fantastic manner. And so the game works like a soothing journey (in time) through an (actually real) dream world, I only loved to dive into. The relaxing effect is still strengthened by the calm, minimalistic, because economically instrumented music.
From time to time hints are a bit scarce, what results in some searching. But that hardly carries weight, because most of the time you get on fluently and there is no lack of suspense in this interesting story. Besides the game is longer than its predecessor, since there are more locations to explore and thus more puzzles to solve. Nothing prevents a positive rating.
Total rating: 74%
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for hardcore-adventure-freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
- Windows 98SE/2000/XP
- Pentium 800 MHz
- 64 MB RAM
- 500 MB free space on hard disk
- 8 MB graphic card
- Win XP
- AMD Athlon XP 1800
- 512 MB RAM
- Grafikkarte Radeon 9200 Series
Festplatte 60 GB