Post Mortem

2002 Microïds
Designed by Stephane Brochu, Stephane Blais
Reviewed 2004 March 28

Rating -2 Linearity wide
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity moderate
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance strong
Interface 1st 360 simple Real-time none

You play Gus, an American artist living in Paris, a former PI, and a bit of a psychic. After a terrible vision of a gory double murder, a beautiful woman knocks on your door and asks you to investigate the murders. You follow a trail leading to an ancient secret society and alchemy.

The strong plot is the strength of Post Mortem. It's well paced, continually advancing, and with several twists. The characters aren't deep, but they're not poorly done, either; they're not obvious game devices.

On the other hand, the challenges are the major weakness of the game. They're uncreative, and often tedious: for one, pixel hunting is an explicit challenge! There are several tired, old cliches, and few if any interesting challenges. Several have mimetic problems, or are a bit silly in some aspect. It wouldn't be particularly annoying if there were a number of good challenges, but without any such your contemplation is drawn to flaws of the bad challenges.

Despite the deficiencies of the individual challenges, the overall challenge layout is very good. There are alternate paths to take, and sometimes more than one way to overcome a challenge. They control the flow of the plot well.

On the other hand (again), the dialogue flow is very bad. You are given a menu of choices to say to a character, and both the choices and replies frequently don't make sense because you haven't yet acquired the relevant context.

I had one small problem with the story presentation. You briefly take over as another character, and the transition wasn't clear to me (first person view). I didn't notice it until I realised that I could no longer access some places on the map, and that my inventory was missing items that I thought I still needed. Maybe I was just distracted or stupid, and missed some indicator.

The presentation is a mixed bag. The background graphics are beautiful. The characters, however, are poorly done 3D puppets. They're blocky, and they move spastically. While the backgrounds are wonderfully evocative of Paris in the 1920's and a film noir vibe, the characters only evoke the occasional bout of unintened laughter. While the dialogue is difficult to get into a sensible order, the actual text isn't too bad (translated from French, I assume). If you can figure out the correct order of the dialogues,

The control interface is mostly decent, but I had a few problems with the inventory control. Notes and such go into your inventory (a scrollable list along the bottom), but sometimes you have to open your journal to read one of them, and I had problems finding (or recognising) the matching entry. Usually you can just click the item and it automatically opens your journal to the right page, but even that was jarring, mimetically: I've got the note, so why am I looking in my journal to see its contents? A minor nit: Why do you have to open the inventory? It could just stay open along the bottom.

Overall, Post Mortem was a very ambivalent experience. The story, setting, and flow were first rate, but the challenges and character presentation were awful. It's a worthwhile play if you don't care about challenges, if you just want a story with some exploration.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.
David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.