Tag Archives: Full Motion Video

She Sees Red

Publisher: RhinoTales
Developer: RhinoTales
Year: 2019
Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Switch, Xbox One,

Rating: 5

Following the release of the interactive episode Bandersnatch by the Black Mirror folks, there’s been several copycats, including a similar episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt as well as Minecraft: Story Mode. Naturally, this was also a vehicle ripe for plucking by the video game industry as well. While the structure of CYOA is limiting as far as gameplay, She Sees Red is a fun if sometimes confusing ride.

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Telling L!es

Publisher: Annapurna
Developer: Downing a Mermaid Productions & Furious Bee Ltd.
Year: 2019
Platform: Windows, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Mac, iPad, iPhone

Rating: 8

Has it really been almost five years since I reviewed Her Story? Sheesh, I’m getting old. Back then I said I was looking forward to Sam Barlow’s next project. I think I forgot about that as I didn’t discover Telling Lies until about 18 months after its release. Still, it was very much worth the wait.

Mild spoilers under the break. You might enjoy the game more knowing nothing about it.

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Jeopardy! (Hasbro Editions)

Developer: Hasbro
Year: 1998, 2000, 2003
Genre: Game Show
Platform: Windows, Mac, Playstation

My Rating: 9

I’ve played almost every version of Jeopardy! over the years on every system, and the three released by Hasbro at the turn of the century are still my favorite. They’re clean, crisp, and feature Johnny Gilbert reading the questions with FMV sequences featuring Alex Trebek. It’s about as close to the real show as you’re going to get.

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CDX

Developer: Preloaded
Publisher: BBC
Year: 2006
Platform: Windows; Mac

Rating: 6/10

Click Here To Play

A full-motion video flash game released as a companion to the BBC show “Rome,” CDX is an episodic thriller that follows a prop man working on the show getting embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy. There are multiple paths and hundreds of videos, not to mention an historical education waiting the player.

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Her Story

Publisher: Self-published
Developer: Sam Barlow
Year: 2015
Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Regrettably as the older I’ve become, the less effort I’ve found myself willing to put into playing computer games. I prefer to blame the time constrictions of maturation: fatherhood, home ownership, Netflixing with my better half. Ultimately, however, the greatest factor is my waning patience with gratification. This extends to all forms of media; if I have to wait longer than five minutes for stimulation, my interest wanders. Thus, the piled up bin of pilot episodes (sorry Nurse Jackie), second chapters (you too The Girl Who Played with Fire), and barely played computer games (maybe later Quest for Glory 2) awaiting continuation but more likely relegated to eternally gathering dust. Despite this I’m also not looking for cheap and unsatisfying thrills (I’m looking at you Angry Birds). Her Story may be my panacea, motivating me not only to play through its story, but also to forge on and try other games that have been sitting on my virtual shelf for far too long.

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Ripper

Ripper DOS Front Cover

Publisher: Take-Two Interactive
Developer: Take-Two Interactive
Year: 1996
Platform: DOS; Mac

Take 2 Interactive’s first FMV adventure was highly touted and had a high-profile cast as one of its selling points. Scott Cohen stars in this cyberpunk thriller as Jake Quinlan, a reporter for a virtual tabloid in 2040 New York City. A mastermind has been committing gruesome murders in the vein of Jack the Ripper, and has been anonymously contacting you in order to get himself some attention in the papers. Your girlfriend and fellow reporter has become the fourth victim. Luckily, she managed to survive the attack and is resting in a coma. Now the case has become personal. You must seek out the Ripper in order to help to save your girlfriend and prevent more pointless murders.

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15: The X-Files Game

Publisher: Fox Interactive
Developer: Hyperbole Studios
Year: 1998
Platform: Windows; Playstation; Macintosgh

ReviewNow this is how a full-motion video game is done.

In fact, this is more or less an episode of The X-Files (taking place sometime during season three) that is ported to the adventure game medium. You play as Agent Willmore, whose job is to find Scully and Mulder, who have gone missing while investigating a case. Along the way, you work with your partner and team up with a local detective in order to crack the case. 

The production values are amazing, in line with that of any prime-time television show. The acting is exceptional for a video game, Duchovny notwithstanding. Mulder, Scully, Agent Skinner, The Smoking Man, and a couple others reprise their TV roles and do so with the same conviction as they would for television. But the new characters are also well-acted and well directed.  The story, by Chris Carter, feels no different in tone than his regular writing, and like any good story, the plot develops in layers as the story progresses, with intrigue and suspense along the way. 

The game mechanics are nearly flawless. Moving about is simple, and map shortcuts are a blessing. Puzzles are fairly straightforward and relevant to the case; there is no goose-chasing to be found. If you get stuck, your boss is there to provide suggestions. There are also multiple ways to approach most of the game’s major events and conversations, with various consequences as you progress. The overall story remains the same, but the choices you make affect your relationships with your boss, your ex-wife, and the female detective (nudge, nudge). There are also, thankfully, a few action sequences where you must either use your gun or think quickly in order to escape a deadly fate. They’re not particularly difficult, but they provide the tension necessary to make you feel like something is at stake. And even if you screw up, the game will gladly restore you to a point just before your fatal mistake.  Finally, the end-game is quite marvelously done, with multiple endings depending on how you tackle the last few decisions. 

Replay value exists, not so much from the multiple paths, but just from the sheer awe-inspiring production. The only reason the game didn’t make the top-ten is that I wasn’t exactly moved by the plot, which is uninspiring and has a couple of holes in it. But if you’re at all interested in playing a full-motion video adventure, make it this one. Whether or not you have seen the show, or even like it, this game should appeal to nearly all adventure gamers and possibly even casual gamers.

Contemporary RatingMedium. Disc swapping, and one obnoxious puzzle at the beginning are the only issues, but that could be enough to turn off some.

Cruelty RatingMerciful. As I mentioned, even if you die, the game restores for you.  You’ll still want to keep save files, though, if you want to explore alternate paths.

22: Black Dahlia

Publisher: Interplay
Developer: Take-Two Interactive
Year: 1998
Platform: Windows

Review: In the mid 1930’s, the Torso Murderer ravaged Cleveland, Ohio by slicing up seven people and leaving Eliot Ness a puzzling case that even he could not solve. In 1947, Elizabeth Short (nicknamed the Black Dahlia), an aspiring Hollywood actress, was brutally murdered in much the same fashion of those in Cleveland a decade earlier. That case wasn’t solved either.

Take 2 Interactive takes their shot at solving the case, creating a mystical black gem (sought by the Nazis, naturally), known by the name of Black Dahlia. The gem gives its owner power to rule the world, quite typical for Nazi relics. The crusade for this gem by various groups is masked by all of the aforementioned murders, and one agent of the CIS is bound and determined to solve the case and stop. You play Jim Pearson, a fictional agent of the non-fictional CIS (later the OSS, and still later the CIA). You must interview agents, criminals, and face the murderer himself in order to solve the case, while dealing with interference from the local police, Eliot Ness and the FBI, as well as, of course, Nazis.

Take 2 does so many things right with this adventure that it’s hard to know where to begin. One of the last games to use extensive FMV sequences, it avoids the pitfalls present in most games of this nature. For starters, the game plays in first-person perspective. You never see Jim unless you’re watching a movie, so the continuity of his clothing and emotional state never come into play. And while some of the script is hokey, there are no noticeably horrible acting performances. The worst performance, surprisingly, is given by Dennis Hopper as an ex-CIS agent who’s been committed to a psych ward. Complementing the movies is the soundtrack, which is nearly flawless. Tense moments are subtly treated as such, without cheapening the mood with overblown scare tactics.

The plot, which is perhaps the most ambitious and well-crafted in adventure game history, spans many locations, including Cleveland, Germany, and Los Angeles, and about ten years of history as Jim Pearson attempts to track down the Black Dahlia and the killer. The story borrows plenty of historical facts to increase the feeling of realism.  As it is fairly easy to determine what is fact, fiction, and pure mysticism, the player never feels insulted by the storyteller. The game never pretends that it knows the truth behind the killings; it simply takes a fascinating historical account and creates an even more fascinating story around it, much like James Cameron did with Titanic.

What either makes or breaks the game for most players are the puzzles. They are hard. While there are a few inventory puzzles, most are symbolical or mathematical and require extensive note-taking. If you’ve ever done Mensa puzzles, think of the hardest of those. I would encourage all players to have a walkthrough handy, as unless you are a literal genius, you will break your keyboard from pounding your head against it. The designers cannot be faulted for the puzzles themselves, as none of them are contrived and all fit seamlessly with the plot. However, there are far too many of them, especially midway through the game, and at times it feels more like a homework assignment than a game. To be fair, some of them I found to be fascinating and I solved approximately a third of the puzzles without any help to much personal satisfaction.

If you like FMV games and don’t mind using a walkthrough to get through the tough parts, there is little doubt that you will be as enthralled with this adventure as I am and will no doubt follow up your experience by hitting Wikipedia for a history lesson.

Contemporary RatingMedium. It takes a little bit to get used to movement.  Also, swapping eight discs during gameplay is a pain, though there’s not much back-and-forth.

Cruelty RatingPolite.  Death (or a premature game over) is a rare outcome but can happen.  The occasional save is needed.