Gordon previewed this game last November and I acquired it recently on the strength of his comments and finished it a little while ago. His preview says it all — a parody of film noir, a new detective in town, competencies or skills to be acquired and utilised, irreverent, some biting social commentary. His conclusion after a couple of hours? Offbeat and intriguing. Well said.
So rather than repeat everything, hop on over and check out his preview. It will tell you everything you need to know about the mechanics and the look and feel of newbie detective Edgar Delacroix and his efforts in 1924 Montreal. Then come back and I will tell you a little more.
OK so what to make of the final product?
It will help you to enjoy Carte Blanche if you have a penchant for quirky and offbeat. Which I do. It will also help if you like dialogue. Which I do.
However I like my dialogue spiced up with those other things that make it a game. And whilst Edgar has to find stuff and interrogate people in the best tradition of a detective, this game is essentially a series of conversations, with all actions being largely dialogue based.
Edgar does things through his dialogue tree. Click on a character and you will get a series of topics. Select the topic and something will happen — a conversation perhaps, or Edgar might examine the item and tell you about it, thereby increasing one of his skills. Select a skill topic, say ventriloquy, and Edgar will try that. Select 'key' and he might use the key in his inventory. Certain topics will elicit other topics, and learning something from one character will result in new options available for other characters.
Which means that you spend a lot of time in Carte Blanche hopping back and forth trying to have the interaction which will trigger interactions elsewhere and thereby enable you to move forward. Activating triggers is common to many games, but the way this game works there is not a lot else to do. And a limited number of places in which not to do it. About 20 scenes in all.
Which doesn't mean it wasn't fun. It was. But if it had been much longer I may well have become a little bored. Certainly it was starting to feel like all I was doing was revisiting characters to try all of the options to see which would result in a new option, so I could do all that again. And whilst it isn't a difficult game, when I was held up on the odd occasion, the limited nature of the construct meant the loss of patience flared a little more quickly.
Carte Blanche is fairly short, taking me about 5 or so hours. Which was a plus and a minus. It was about the right length for what it offered, but too short if you paid top dollar.
I did enjoy the look and the feel and the voices. Even the grating ones. Its lumpy and odd characters appealed to me, and some of the dialogue was very good, and sometimes very funny. The interactions with the angry mob just outside town were a highlight and Edgar himself I was rather drawn to.
So too the proficiencies Edgar had to learn added a little something. "Persuasion" at Level 6 will get you a lot further than Level 1. There are about 15 of these and you upgrade your proficiency by using the particular skill. It happens automatically; you don't allocate points like in a role playing game, and you will need a certain level here or there in order to move forward.
And in keeping with the whole tone, you get to decrease Edgar's naiveté in the same way.
However Part 2 of Carte Blanche will likely need a little more meat on its bones in order to substantiate a Part 3. You can only push this construct so far. Edgar still has a murder most horrid to solve, and a schnitzel code to unravel, so he will be back. And I will certainly check him out when he does.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2007.
All rights reserved.
Windows 98/2000/XP, 900 MHz CPU (2GHz recommended), 258 MB RAM (512 recommended), 128 MB graphics card, 400 MB disc space, DirectX 9, mouse.