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Thoughts on still life series some spoilers

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Finally done with Still Life series and wow it was certainly an experience.

So in Still Life 1 you play as Agent McPhearson of the smallest FBI bureau in America, it’s so small your “partner” is not even an agent but a detective and I say partner but well he’s more like a silent partner as you won’t really see much of him. You also play as Gus, grandfather of agent McPhearson. Both characters are trying to solve a serial killer, Gus in the past and McPhearson in the present and somehow the two cases are connected. I say somehow because the connection is never made very clear because of a very abrupt ending.

All in all though it’s a fairly short and easy game, but don’t worry even if it may seem very short on paper there’s an infuriating lock picking puzzle that will add at least 2-3 hours more to the overall game time and a ginger bread baking recipe that will also add a good two hours if you’re not used to baking.

As I mentioned the ending is very abrupt and doesn’t really provide much answers but luckily there’s Still Life 2, surely they wouldn’t bother making a whole other game without providing some closure right? Well….

But let’s start from the beginning. McPhearson who quit the FBI at the end of the first game is now somehow back and working for the FBI again, sort of freelancing it seems. She’s hunting the same killer who’s kidnapped a reporter who might know somebody who knows somebody who knows something about the serial killer from the last game.

Still Life 2 is going for an old school feeling, there’s timed puzzles, a ton of annoying ways to die and even a dead end and pixel hunting so much pixel hunting. Now if pixel hunting doesn’t provide enough of a challenge for you, fear not, the creators have thought of that and made the game incredibly dark, I mean so dark that you can’t actually see many of the items you need with the naked eye, you just sort of need to run the mouse over random areas and hope to get lucky a lot of the time.

Speaking of time, most of it will be spent collecting dna samples and clues all over the house where the reporter is being held so if you’re a fan of endless backtracking and doing the same tedious puzzle over and over again, then this is definitely the game for you. Luckily most of the clues you pick up will serve no purpose at all other than to prolong the game time but you’ll still need to find all the clues anyways. There are however thanks to glitches a few times you can solve puzzles without solving them, one which time which will lead to a dead end as I mentioned earlier.

Still life 2 is not a game to play for the great puzzles, but not for the dialogue either and certainly not for the story which manages to be both overly complicated and under developed at the same time. There’s so many killers that can’t really keep up and you begin to wonder if there’s anyone left who’s not a murderer. The problem with the game is that much like it’s killers the game thinks it’s way smarter than it actually is. There’s plenty of cryptic messages and hints of plot twists that makes you think at the end of the game you’re finally going to get some answers that might shock you or at the very least mildly surprise you but no such luck, the game ends as abruptly as the first one. Apparently the question why, what the hell was the point of all this is not a question you’re supposed to ask or at the very least it’s not a question that the developers are interested in answering. So if that’s not important to you, then you’ll enjoy the game far more than I ever did.

 

     
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I’m fairly certain Still Life 2 was heavily inspired by the Saw movies. It definitely felt like it when I played it, but it just couldn’t keep its overly convoluted narrative in check.

     

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tomimt - 16 March 2021 06:48 PM

I’m fairly certain Still Life 2 was heavily inspired by the Saw movies. It definitely felt like it when I played it, but it just couldn’t keep its overly convoluted narrative in check.

I agree it was Saw without the twist and agree again, so overly convoluted it was like okay who’s not a killer at this point and what’s their motivation, I guess that’s not important, and the partner with the important backstory we’ve never heard of showing up, that was a twist haha. It just felt like they thougt they were way smarter than they were.

     
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I loved the first game very much.

The story kept me gripped from the start, and I liked the parallels between McPhearson in the present and her grandfather in the past solving a crime whose implications and connections between the two are not so clear at first. I liked the atmosphere, the graphics, the animations, the cinematics, the voices, etc, etc. (Even the cooking puzzle, which I know many people disliked, I liked, I found it fun and a way to isolate ourselves for a few minutes from what was going on in the story).

 

In any case, as you can imagine, I went to play the second game with high expectations, and unfortunately the disappointment was very big.

I don’t remember very well what the story was about (it’s been a long time since I played it) but I do remember that I didn’t find it particularly interesting, I also remember that most of the game we were locked in a house trying to find clues and that we could even die because there were traps? Eh? That’s right.

One of the things I deeply disliked and even struggled to understand is why the game looked so bad? I’m not asking for a sequel to be a big leap in terms of the graphics engine or whatever, maybe the budget wasn’t that big or who knows why, but I ask myself… if you can’t improve on what you already have, why not stick with what you’ve been doing? I don’t know if I’m making myself clear, but the graphics and animations were a huge step backwards from the first game. It looks ugly, clumsy, forced. Now that I think about it… I think it was made by another studio?


Having said all this, I hope this series can be resurrected at some point. I would love to embody Victoria from the first game once again.

 

     

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If you liked Still Life, Post Mortem is available for play also, it’s related to Still Life and starts the story.

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I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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The problem with both games were that they were building up to a twist that never arrived. The first game it turned out that the only possible suspect indeed was the killer, big surprise and in the 2nd game it was the ex partner we’ve never heard of teaming up with two other dudes who’s completely unknown to us as well. Never saw that coming cause it would be impossible to.

     
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tomimt - 16 March 2021 06:48 PM

I’m fairly certain Still Life 2 was heavily inspired by the Saw movies. It definitely felt like it when I played it, but it just couldn’t keep its overly convoluted narrative in check.

Possible, but they, Still Life and Saw movies were a good five years, if not more, apart. Hard for me to make that connection.

     

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rtrooney - 16 March 2021 09:51 PM
tomimt - 16 March 2021 06:48 PM

I’m fairly certain Still Life 2 was heavily inspired by the Saw movies. It definitely felt like it when I played it, but it just couldn’t keep its overly convoluted narrative in check.

Possible, but they, Still Life and Saw movies were a good five years, if not more, apart. Hard for me to make that connection.

I think the timeline matches up pretty well. Still Life 2 was released in 2009, by which point there had been a new Saw movie released every year for five years. The Saw franchise’s peak may have passed, but it was still hugely influential and the target of frequent “borrowing.”

     

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Cicerone53 - 17 March 2021 02:13 AM

I think the timeline matches up pretty well. Still Life 2 was released in 2009, by which point there had been a new Saw movie released every year for five years. The Saw franchise’s peak may have passed, but it was still hugely influential and the target of frequent “borrowing.”

Pretty much this. By 2009, there had been a new Saw movie each year, all of which were, of not as popular as the first, still popular enough to keep the franchise in peoples minds. And as games take a couple of years to make, I can see how the development of Still Life 2 begun at the height of the Saw-franchise.

I actually wouldn’t be surprised, if they tried to make it as an official Saw-license game, but failed to obtain the rights and were forced to turn it into something else.

     

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You know how life sometimes throws these weirds coincidences? Just had my Steam list opened, and noted this category of my games with everything installed - except for two games. Still Life 1 and 2. And then I go to this forums and ... it’s a new topic here. The universe must be telling me something!

Jokes aside, I do like Still Life 1, but 2 is such a monumental failure that retrospectively it kinda ruined even the first game for me; if that makes sense.

And I agree; SL2 very, very likely is Saw-inspired. Admittedly, there’s other escape-room games (especially Japanese ones) so it could be coincidence / come from elsewhere, but that’d be a big coincidence (bigger than spotting games on Steam and then a topic being about them ^^).

     
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This inspiration you speak of, is there any information to back it up? Or is it just speculation on the part of some of you? Because I do remember the traps, but that doesn’t automatically mean it was inspired by SAW. Unless we believe that traps + deaths = SAW.

As I said my memory about the second game is not very fresh, maybe there was some other reference or very clear information about it that I don’t remember or don’t know about.

     

” I have the feeling that something in my mind is poisoning everything else. “
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“One day I am gonna grow wings
A chemical reaction
Hysterical and useless..”

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It’s more than traps. The SL2 felt very much inspired by Saw. The way it presented the story, the gritty surroundings and how the cinematics looked. As I said, it felt like something that could have, with a couple of changes, be an official Saw license game. I had that feeling off the game when I played it originally and whenever I see the game discussed, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind about it.

Of course, it probably had influences from other serial killer movies as well, like Seven, but as it was made during the height of Saw-franchise, I’d suspect them to be the closest point of inspiration on many of the things in the game.

     
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I played the first one on XBOX when it came out and loved it. My screen was set way too dark for the game, though, which made solving certain puzzles (the painting one in particular) impossible until I made the realization and correction.
I recall being enthralled by the story, and that the mystery was very well paced and well preserved. The ‘ending’ was disappointing, and made me want to jump right into the sequel…which wouldn’t come around for quite some time. When it did, I didn’t bother. Negative reviews usually don’t deter me, but this type of overwhelmingly and very specific negative review assured me that it wouldn’t be worth my time.
I have played Post Mortem, because it is directly related to the Still Life story. You play as her grandfather, Gus. I don’t remember if I finished it or not, which ought to tell you a lot about the game. It’s the kind of middling turn of the milleninum-ish adventure that was maybe good enough if you were absolutely starving for a point and click, but suffered from quite a few poorly implemented puzzles.

It’s a shame a series started so promisingly only went on to have two very poor siblings.

     

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Still Life is far from a perfect adventure game, but it got one, perhaps one of the most crucial things, right: the main character is with her own personality, believable. You care for her. Pretty much like Kate in Syberia. As one of my favorite adventure game reviewer deduced:

“Like Yin and Young, light and darkness, like life and death, Syberia and Still life are shoulder to shoulder like two antipodes, and make a perfect whole. As much as Syberia was “pure” and highly moral game, Still Life is dismal, diabolic, virtual oil painting of a human’s nature, which explicitly shows what we are - beasts, who learned to control their instincts, but still with a prehistoric hunger for a blood. What is “Seven” for a film industry, that’s Still Life in the computer gaming world.”

     

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tomimt - 17 March 2021 07:36 AM

It’s more than traps. The SL2 felt very much inspired by Saw. The way it presented the story, the gritty surroundings and how the cinematics looked. As I said, it felt like something that could have, with a couple of changes, be an official Saw license game. I had that feeling off the game when I played it originally and whenever I see the game discussed, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind about it.

Definitely influenced by the Saw franchise. I don’t remember much from the game, it was very forgettable, but I remember getting exactly same thoughts. Actually now that I think about it, I recall there was an official Saw game (some survival horror) released around the same time, so maybe they tried to cash in on that movie.

Yep, here it is: the official Saw game came out in October 2009, 6 months after Still Life 2. Oh, and Saw was developed by Zombie Entertainment of Zork Nemesis fame, that’s what drew my interest.

     

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“Post Mortem is a murder mystery adventure game by Microïds, released in 2002. Its sequels are Still Life and Still Life 2. The game was also released in French, Italian, German and Spanish.

According to Microïds, the game and its successor, Still Life, were commercial successes. The publisher reported combined global sales for the series above 500,000 units by September 2008.”

So, I played all three. Still Life is the strongest, Still Life 2 the weakest. Post Morten is in the middle. And yes, Still Life 2 is very similar to the Saw movies.

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I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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