Post Mortem attempts to be a multi-pathed detective mystery. However, numerous flaws make the story difficult to follow, and a variety of design choices considerably lowers the motivation for trying to do so.
For some reason, the studio is quite proud of the actors’ terribly fake French accent and the standard-quality writing. So, you can’t skip dialogue ahead. The game also doesn’t auto-save. Both on their own are minor annoyances, but when combined with the fact any loss of focus causes the game to crash, it means you have to listen to long, pompous dialog a second time whenever you switch wireless networks or a new Adobe update is available. Basically anything that pops up a window causes the game to crash, and then you have to replay form the last manual save. You can work around it by saving after each lengthy batch of dialogue, but it’s very annoying.
Plot-wise, the game doesn’t really do a good job explaining what’s going on. It’s possible I wasn’t paying close enough attention, or that I accidentally glitched ahead, but to me it seemed like things changed pretty arbitrarily. Suddenly a woman appears, I’ve never seen her before and couldn’t understand what’s she’s doing and why we’re so chummy. A location which I previously entered with no problem was suddenly guarded with a maze. Characters that I’ve just spoken to suddenly became hostile for no apparent reason. My dialogue options stopped making sense. All of those are either an artistic choice or a design limitation, and they made it very difficult to follow the story or figure out what I needed to do next. The reuse of character models was also problematic in that regard, as you can’t really tell one reception clerk from another, even though they have different roles in the story.
The terrible dialogue system doesn’t help. First of all, its visual design is silly. You have several tabs marked with question marks, each containing a single possible response. This means that whenever you want to talk to anyone, you have to click all the tabs to see what your options are, instead of just having them listed and picking one. You’d think maybe the tabs would have some order, but they don’t, and in fact sometimes the order changes, so the leftmost is something different than it was before, and what was leftmost is now second on the left, etc.
But that’s just cumbersome. The real issue is the dialogue itself. Basically, your options branch for absolutely no reason. A typical example has you interrogating a witness. You can choose to ask him precisely one question - either “has that person made a phone call” or “who approached whom”. Then, for no in-game reason (at least not one you can infer from the dialogue), the other question disappears. It’s not that the character refuses to answer—Gus refuses to even ask. That happens all the time. In the interest of multiple paths, or arbitrary difficulty, or bugginess (I honestly don’t know which), in most conversations you have you’re restricted to asking only about one thing. Since you can’t save in the middle of dialogue, that makes every dialogue a risky affair - not that you can get stuck, but you’re missing out on parts of the plot simply because you chose to ask about the least informative thing, without any clues as to how to choose. Neither the phrasing nor the physical clues give any indication to how a line of questioning is going to develop.
Because you can’t skip dialogue, and dialogue is lengthy, restoring to the beginning of a dialogue is a tiresome affair, so instead you find yourself often confused and/or frustrated.
To add to the above, there are a number of related bugs. At one point I couldn’t read a document I’d found, since the game kept popping up another document instead. Another journal didn’t appear in my documents, and “using” it didn’t read it. Apparently I’m supposed to give it to someone, but it sure would help if I knew what was written in there.
You can’t look at inventory items. Hovering the mouse over them gives them a name, but no description. And of course, movement is node-based so even a simple task like looking around a room becomes an exercise in frustration as you look for the right angle where your pixel-hunt for a “zoom” cursor would be successful - there is no hotspot highlighting.
What few puzzles I encountered were bad. There was a maze, some standard inventory combinations and fetch quests, and a sketch-the-bad-guy puzzle which was just terrible. You’re supposed to create a profile based on witness statements, but the statements are incredibly vague and are split between an easy-to-read section in your notebook and the impossible-to-wade-through “conversations” tab. Moreover, if anyone can explain to me how those particular eyes are the “small” ones or why that nose is a “boxer’s nose”, I’m willing to take back what I said about the puzzle - but both walkthroughs I read gave up on trying to explain the puzzle logic and just told you how many times to click on each feature. It could’ve been less atrocious if characters at least gave you some hints upon being shown the profile - “right nose, but his hair was much straighter” or whatever, but they don’t.
There was another poor puzzle I inflicted upon myself by missing a hotspot. The game features a remarkably original puzzle where you push a key through a keyhole, and I couldn’t find the single object that’s long and narrow to push the key with. As a result, I was reduced to looking for a set of lockpicks from a person I’ve never seen before but whom Gus apparently knew was the go-to guy for these things. In exchange, I had to play “spot the differences” between two pictures - which I couldn’t see side by side. Instead, you stare at one, click on the “switch” button, the game shows you an animation and you get the other one. Why I couldn’t lay them out side by side, beyond arbitrary difficulty, is anybody’s guess. Moreover, until you find all the differences, Mr. Lockpick just tells you “you barely found any differences!” which makes no in-game sense because theoretically you’re helping detect a forgery—and if he already knows how many differences there are, why on earth does he need me?
Overall, after several hours of play (difficult to say how far ahead I am, since the game gives no indication of days or chapters or whatever—despite clearly having discrete sections after which the environment changes considerably), I realized I’m really not having any fun. The plot began to take shape and it seems like it could be a good one, but the game just obfuscates it so much that I couldn’t find the patience to keep at unraveling it. It might be more enjoyable with a walkthrough to ensure you go through locations and dialogue in the order the game intended. If you try it, let me know.
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Time Played: 2-5 hours