Still Life (video game)
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Still Life is a 2005 computer adventure game by Microïds. While not sharing its name, Still Life is a sequel to Post Mortem. A sequel, Still Life 2, was released in 2009. The game has since sold 240,000 copies worldwide.
A major theme throughout the game is art, especially the technique of still life that the game is named after. The game also uses a storytelling device of switching back and forth between two player characters.
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FBI Special Agent Victoria McPherson is investigating a series of brutal murders in 2004 Chicago. While visiting her father for Christmas she discovers an old notebook that belonged to her grandfather, private investigator Gustav McPherson. Victoria is surprised to learn that Gus had been involved with investigating a very similar series of murders in 1920s Prague. The player alternates between these two characters as they work to hunt down what seems to be the same serial killer more than 70 years apart.
In both cases the murderer targets sex trade workers: street prostitutes in Prague, and employees of an exclusive Chicago massage parlor and S&M club called the Red Lantern. The killer or killers are disguised in a dark cloak, top hat, and silver mask.
Gus eventually identifies the man responsible for the Prague murders, but the killer escapes justice and relocates to America. Near the end of the game Victoria discovers that similar murders occurred in 1931 Chicago and later in 1956 Los Angeles.
The identity of the 2004 Chicago killer is never revealed. Victoria encounters him several times, but never sees behind his mask. She does not believe he is the same person as the Prague killer, but rather a younger person who has been influenced by the Prague killer in some way. At the climax of the game Victoria manages to shoot the Chicago killer in the chest, but he falls into the Chicago river and goes under. As the game ends, the Chicago police are still searching the river for the killer's body. Victoria plans to travel to Los Angeles to learn more about the 1956 killings.
A controversy surrounding the game is its lack of an ending. Originally planned as the second of a trilogy, with Post Mortem as the first, Still Life ends without revealing the villain. The story was meant to continue in a third game, but it seemed unlikely that the finalé would ever be made, as part of the development arm of Microïds in Canada was bought out by Ubisoft. However, on December 6, 2007, Microïds announced the development of a sequel, Still Life 2, which was released in 2009. The mysterious serial killer's identity will apparently be revealed in the sequel. On September 19, 2008 a new Still Life series website was opened, covering the three games.
- Gustav McPherson is a Private Detective, who grew up in New York City. In the mid-1920s Gustav moved to Paris and took up the profession of an Artist. In 1925 a mysterious woman, Sophia Blake, hired Gustav to investigate the murders at the Orphee Hotel, of her 'sister' and brother-in-law. This mystery unfolded into a paranormal encounter with an item called the 'Head of Baphomet', which would give eternal life to its beholder. In 1929 Gustav was enlisted by his then girlfriend Ida to investigate the murders of multiple prostitutes in Prague. While uncovering that the murderer was also an artist, Ida herself was murdered causing Gustav to be distraught. Gustav, Vladanna Tominova and Milena fled the murderer by working their way back to America. Gustav and Milena settled in Chicago, where they married and had a son, Patrick McPherson. In 1932 Gustav also stole some FBI files related to the murders, which he later passed on in 1956 to a police officer in Los Angeles, Michael Harrison. Harrison was investigating murders which were almost identical to the ones in Prague.
- Victoria McPherson is an FBI Agent working in Chicago. She is the daughter of Patrick and granddaughter of Gustav. As a child she loved listening to her grandfather's stories and would later find herself entangled in similar circumstances to one of Gustav's cases. Later in her career Victoria was sent to work in Maine.
Still Life was made with Virtools applications; the same software as Post Mortem and some other Microïds games. The point and click gameplay is also based on the first two games in the Syberia franchise.
Still Life received fairly favorable reviews from critics. Its Metacritic scores are 75/100 for PC and 70/100 for Xbox, based on reviews by respectively 27 and 29 critics. Its GameRankings scores are 75.77% for PC and 68.68% for Xbox, based on reviews by respectively 35 and 31 critics. David Clayman of IGN commented: "Still Life is an enjoyable albeit short diversion for fans of classic adventure games. As usual, this type of game controls better on a PC and character movement feels slow and clunky with the Xbox controller." Eurogamer's John Walker: "There's a lot that Still Life does well, but in the same way adventure games were doing things well ten years ago. There is therefore no excuse for it to not manage other basic, fundamental elements when rehashing these decade-old ideas." Shannon Hall of Just Adventure: "Anyone who loves a mystery and has an investigative mind will get many hours of pleasure from Still Life." Ryan Davis, writing for GameSpot: "Its slavish dedication to convention will scratch the methodical, cerebral itch all diehard adventure game fans have. As a genre exercise, though, it exerts little energy to draw in new players."
- "Encore to Release Still Life 2 - Sequel to Still Life". Encore. PR Newswire. 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- "Ubisoft Montréal enters into an agreement to acquire Microïds Canada's development operations". Ubisoft. 2005-03-02. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- "Microïds announces Still Life 2". Microïds. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- "Still Life project". Virtools Applications. Archived from the original on May 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
- "Still Life Review" (PDF). Virtools Applications/ Adventure Gamers. 2004-12-20. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- "Still Life for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "Still Life for Xbox". GameRankings. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "Still Life for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "Still Life for Xbox Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Walker, John (1 August 2005). "Still Life". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Davis, Ryan (1 June 2005). "Still Life Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Clayman, David (14 June 2005). "Still Life". IGN. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Hall, Shannon (19 May 2005). "Still Life". Just Adventure. Retrieved 2 December 2014.