Gruesome Corpse: Art Of Murder 2 Demo

She's hooked on this game!!!!!!!!!!!! [dies]

The public cries have been heard! Finally there’s a sequel to last year’s Polish adventure, Art of Murder: FBI Confidential. Art of Murder: Hunt For The Puppeteer. There’s a demo too! Oh no wait, I seem to have become confused. Art of Murder was one of the most astonishingly rubbish adventure games ever made. A completely nonsensical crime procedural, mystifyingly plotted, seeming to start halfway through a story that’s never explained, it was a lunatic collection of aimless trudging, gibberish puzzles, and an almost poetic stream of madness spoken by the American cast. Thank goodness there’s to be more.

The short demo does not bode well. In fact, it plays like a tribute act to the original’s waterfall of bollocks. Beginning in a Parisian dance studio, heroine FBI agent Nicole Bonnet has an argument with someone who we’re told is a French policeman. The “French” part is left to your imagination, the actor apparently not even trying to put on an accent, even when speaking in French. It’s implied that Bonnet is in Paris (despite the establishing cutscene being set, bemusingly, in New Orleans) to help the French police with what looks like the work of American serial killer, The Puppeteer. As is now seemingly traditional for the Art of Murder series, the background to this is given to you in a pile of notes in your journal, rather than any narrative exposition. Obviously the French cop is useless, and can’t perform even the most rudimentary parts of his job, and wanders off with evidence still lying all over the room. “A truly unpleasant Frog,” grumbles Nicole, setting the tone.

The demo plays out rather like an escape-the-room game, but one where logic already achieved that. Once an unspecified number of bits of evidence have been collected, Bonnet will finally agree to leave the location, and it ends. Until then, you gather bits and bobs, improvising some evidence bags, and even a cotton swab, because Bonnet is so inept a murder cop she brought no such things with her.

Talking to another policeman, sat by the entrance to the studio, Bonnet’s first words for him are to thank him for his time and say goodbye. That’s because she didn’t look at the fingerprints on the window yet! Do that and she’ll obviously ask him for a pencil. So you take the pencil, and yes, I know you’re way ahead of me here, you smash it to bits with a stapler. Well, you’ve got to take a fingerprint, right?

Throughout this skip of idiocy, Bonnet reads out the barely translated lines as lazily as possible. Once you’ve picked up the mop and removed the head she comments, “Hmmm, a wooden stick. That’s rare these days.” But my favourite has to be the ‘look at’ response for the plastic document sleeves found in a drawer:

“Such plastic bags can also be used in a different way.”

(Admittedly this doesn’t match the first game’s most glorious line, where Bonnet questions after an alarm goes off in a museum, “What are the lights blinking?”)

So download it today!

47 Comments

  1. ChaosSmurf says:

    “waterfall of bollocks” wow. That’s an interesting image indeed.

  2. Ian says:

    “Hmmm, a wooden stick. That’s rare these days.”

    Seriously, that person gets a job in the game industry and I don’t?

  3. Poostick says:

    Ouch. Come bck, Cryo, O’ rubbish developrs of legend. All is forgiven.

    Well, nearly all.

  4. Markoff Chaney says:

    I made it through about 1/4th of the first game (I guess, I dunno) before I put her down. Better, more engaging, adventure games were made 20 years ago. Don’t even think I’ll waste the bandwidth on this demo, there’s too much other goodness to try these days. At least the adventure genre keeps on keeping on.

  5. Igor Hardy says:

    An interesting take on the pleasures of playing Art of Murder. :) This demo has frustrated me like almost nothing in the first game though. I gave that one three stars for the cheap pulp thrills and I think it represents its category quite well.

    As for the Cryo collection, it has indeed become a synonym of mundane and dull (Well, maybe that twisted Faust game stands out a bit).

  6. Legionary says:

    On the one hand, shit games are shit. On the other, we get an enraged John Walker. Swings and roundabouts.

  7. Helm says:

    I’m sure there’s a side of the internet that will play this and enjoy it as much as any of the classic point and clickers of the 90’s. I am sure there exists such a place because this is a sequel, so the first one must have done alright.

  8. James Allen says:

    And this is why I avoid adventure games like the plague. Decent ones come from Wadjet Eye, though.

  9. Colthor says:

    I was half-expecting the image alt-text to be “But is it art?”.

  10. Poostick says:

    “I’m sure there’s a side of the internet that will play this and enjoy it as much as any of the classic point and clickers of the 90’s. I am sure there exists such a place because this is a sequel, so the first one must have done alright.”

    Not necessarily. The costs of a first game usually involve some kind of setup costs, R&D, that type of thing. These costs are rarely justified for just one title. Banging out a quick sequel using the tech and (hopefully) talent you’ve developed/gathered makes more sense financially than cutting your losses and starting again from scratch.

  11. AndrewC says:

    Excellent! I only just realised that the dead eyed mannequin of the picture was actually supposed to be a corpse.

  12. Tworak says:

    Impressive hair on the broad. UE3-esque.

  13. Still annoyed says:

    Remember that City Interactive is well known for churning out cheap budget games. Someone bought all their crap shooters and flying games, so someone probably buy their crap adventures too.

  14. Helm says:

    Poostick, I see your point. I’ll try a different angle: I am sure there are people that will play this and enjoy it like a 90’s point and clicker because I have for nearly a decade spent time in the AGS scene and seen a lot more tolerance towards (ranging from mildly to monstrously) bad adventure games that I could ever justify. I always thought that an aficionado of a type of art is one that has sampled a lot and grown to enjoy and support only a quintessential selection from the whole. It doesn’t seem to play out like that in reality though. A lot of adventure game fans will play anything remotely like their old favorites and it seems to me that they also grow up to be game developers and make their own share of bad adventure games. Thusly is a misshapen stillbirth like the first Art of Murder ejected from its viscous loins of this scene right into its own hungry mouth, the diminishing return not far up in its behind.

  15. Igor Hardy says:

    It’s silly too demonize this series of games. They are devoid of any standout elements (well, maybe except some decent backgrounds), but they don’t differ so drastically from what the genre usually offers.

  16. skizelo says:

    I swear, there just has to be a sinister cabal of adventure game programmers who are trying to drive John Walker insane. That or they all really like David Lynch.

  17. Dean says:

    John you should check out the new Women’s Murder Club game. It’s very odd. It pretends to be a hidden object game but then it isn’t. Never once did I have to find a list of twenty random objects on a cluttered screen. It’s basically closest to a point-and-click adventure game, albeit a ridiculously simple one, and one that’s hiding in the structure of a hidden object game.

  18. Premium User Badge

    John Walker says:

    Helm: You’re quite right. I’ve repeated this a million times, but it’s a favourite line so I’ll say it again: Hardcore adventure fans are like far-gone heroin addicts. They don’t care how cut the junk might be, a hit’s a hit. The tolerance for hideous rubbish upsets me constantly, partly because it’s an insult to critical faculties, and partly because it sets the bar of what’s acceptable so low that there’s no reason for developers to try at all. They can shit in a bucket, jab it with pencils, newspapers and poorly fitted doors, and be carried aloft the shoulders of the adventure community like new kings.

    Igor: I promise I don’t single these games out for demonising. I demonise each and every similar series whenever possible. However, Art of Murder’s dialogue is pretty spectacular, and that lovely trick it has of not letting you pick up vital objects because you haven’t completed some other abstract task is a good reason to pick on them.

    Dean: Cheers, I take a look.

  19. Igor Hardy says:

    John, I actually liked very much how you mocked the games and I had almost the same thoughts about the puzzles in the demo as you. I was only referring to how people started to treat these games as the ultimate crap in consequence, but this is simply not true.

    If you like the genre and are able to suffer a game with some embarrassing translations to English and occasional stupid puzzle, then Art of Murder may pretty well do as a satisfyingly brainwashing diversion from playing the umpteenth Sam & Max episode with the same reused assets and characters. I actually preferred it to some adventure games that are considered top shelf stuff. Still Life for example.

  20. radomaj says:

    Yeah, it’s made by City Interactive, a developer known in Poland for churning out questionable quality games for low prices (20zł/PLN). I must say though, they surprised me quite a bit when I went to their website. They seem to be the only publisher of World of Goo in my little village country. Imagine! World of Goo in a retail, boxed version.

  21. Mil says:

    It occurs to me that some people here might not have read Old Man Murray’s article on the Death of Adventure Games.

  22. Igor Hardy says:

    Are you kidding? This puzzle was the coolest part of GK3. And I felt incredibly proud figuring this craziness all by myself. Old Man Murray must have been too old at that point to appreciate Sierra’s wicked sense of humor.

  23. cheeba says:

    @Igor: Still Life, there’s a perfect example. Quite an interesting beginning that rapidly tails off into a load of tedious old bollocks, and it’s the poster child of the perfect modern adventure as far as the hardcore crowd are concerned. Aughh.

    It’s got to the point where they can’t even recognise quality when it comes up and slaps them in the chops. Strong Bad was one of the better adventures in recent memory – not perfect but charming, well thought through and made with an obvious love for the genre. And the adventure sites barely bothered to review it, let alone realise what they had. On a certain major site’s scale, it scored about level with Hopkins FBI.

    HOPKINS FBI, PEOPLE.

  24. Gap Gen says:

    One of the many things I love about MS Paint Adventures is how the character gets fed up and checks GameFAQs half-way through.

  25. Igor Hardy says:

    Strong Bad has been covered on all major adventure gaming sites and as far as I know received only positive scores. Why didn’t it receive 5/5 stars all around? Well, it’s adventure gaming light and really not for everyone’s taste.

    Personally I’m not that crazy about Strong Bad. I gave the fourth episode 3/5. A home-made game like Ben There, Dan That can be quite similar in humor and style, but much more fun and varied at the same time. Also, many people prefer to have some kind of narrative that isn’t just a joke in their adventure games.

    And don’t worry about Hopkins FBI. Almost none remembers that game at all.

  26. hydra9 says:

    For anyone who hasn’t heard of Hopkins FBI…

    Enjoy

  27. Z says:

    Gold.

    “Characters: a voodoo female shaman.”

    Oh, gold.

  28. Dean says:

    That GK3 puzzle was awful, granted, but it was unquestionably the nadir of the game. A game which also had “Le Serpent Rouge”, one of the best adventure game puzzles ever.
    And Still Life? I enjoyed it despite some flaws, until I reached the end. It’s a whodunnit where you don’t find out whodunnit. For crying out loud.

  29. malkav11 says:

    Many people mention Syberia in the same breath as The Longest Journey, and not to mention how wildly inferior the former is to the latter. This alone tells you all you need to know about the modern adventure game market.

    (To be fair, I kind of liked Syberia. And Sokal’s artwork is lovely.)

  30. A-Scale says:

    The StrongBad game was very well covered. I recall seeing it on IGN, here, GiantBomb.com, on tons of games podcasts and maybe even 1up. Shame they had to drop the episodic purchase model for the last episode just to make a quick buck, though. I’ll never forgive Telltale for that.

  31. Muzman says:

    I recall fondly the couple of quite forgiving reviews the Limbo of the Lost got before most of the internet went “Now wait a minute…”.
    Walker’s told that tale before I think, But I didn’t quite beleive it until I saw those, and then wandered around a couple of adventure scene sites.
    The whole thing has contracted into a sort of fanscene whose cheerfully encouraging tone extends even to commercial projects. Even something like Limbo of the Lost was treated to that creepy unflappable “bright side” positivity, like every critic is an art teacher for the mentally handicapped.
    (I don’t know exactly why I’m saying stuff that’s mostly been said, but anyway…)
    What the hell is it with the pencil? How do you gather fingerprints with a crushed pencil again?

  32. Helm says:

    “If you like the genre and are able to suffer a game with some embarrassing translations to English and occasional stupid puzzle, then Art of Murder may pretty well do as a satisfyingly brainwashing diversion from playing the umpteenth Sam & Max episode with the same reused assets and characters. I actually preferred it to some adventure games that are considered top shelf stuff. Still Life for example.”

    Your terminology says a lot. A satisfying brainwashing diversion from these other, also mediocre adventure games games. Still Life wasn’t very good too. Not as rubbish as Art of Murder, but as mentioned it starts pretty okay and it devolves towards finding recipes for cookies. It’s insulting. Syberia is pretty bad. The Longest Journey has its share of problems (sorry Walker). All these games are worse in my opinion than the 90’s Sierra and LEC games that provided inspiration for them. And those games have problems as well. They might not be huge problems but even in games I love a lot like Gabriel Knight and Quest for Glory 4 there are idiotic puzzles and bad design in various bits. We should be critical with the things we love. I am not saying “find something to hate in everything”, at all, but it becomes a point of consumerism after a while. Just how many bad games can a person play to pass the time? If you say to a lover of oldschool adventure games that Gabriel Knight has problems they will bite your face off, nowadays.

    It seems to me that for other genres, like FPS or RTS games, the critical train arrived once the market over saturated with their kind. Player and critic alike were “Alright, the genre is formed and these are its characteristics, we obviously can’t play/recommend ALL these games, so which ones do a better job?”. This is why not many people remember Prey or care about it but Half Life 2 is part of public consciousness.

    It seems to me that adventure games ‘died’ in an extremely opportune (for shitty designers) moment. It was forced to ‘die’ by the industry but the people that grew up with these games didn’t agree, they wanted more. So, much fewer games came out, with smaller budgets, by indie people, without training or artistry or vision a lot of the times and just because their public was starved for more, they enjoyed reasonable success. This can go on forever! A niche that could be vital to game design, the best sort of videogame to infuse with humanity and spirit is constantly filled with excrement! It’s no wonder that most good modern adventure games are not point and click games anymore, the characteristics of the genre appropriated by 3d first person games and the like.

  33. Igor Hardy says:

    @Helm:
    You say that adventure gamers will play anything within their favorite genre, pretty much regardless of the quality. Well, I never met anyone like that and I hang out a lot around adventure gaming forums.

    Personally, if I don’t enjoy an even highly rated title or can’t find anything interesting in it I stop playing it very quickly and move to something else (unless I have to write a review of it). This happened to me with Still Life which was just plain ugly visually, had awful puzzles, and at the beginning you were given like a 100 pages of diaries of the main characters to read what happened before the story starts and about all their acquaintances and families. Art of Murder was much better than that despite having smaller storytelling ambitions. It is not exactly a game I would highly recommend, especially since there are better choices, but it is definitely playable not only for people desperate to kill time.

    And what is so terrible about the fact that even classics like Gabriel Knight had their share of faults? It happens with most games in every genre. It is so easy to screw some puzzle that it is impossible for most players to figure out. How do you like puzzle games like The Fool’s Errand or World of Goo?

    I say, the adventure game genre is very much alive and fine as a… genre. The sad thing is that there are very few titles with really standout gameplay. In my opinion the best ones currently available are most games by Kheops (surprisingly descendants of the terrible Cryo), some of the AGS freeware titles, Tale of a Hero (an old school fantasy game that reminds me of Quest for Glory and beats down The Longest Journey) and Insecticide (which is half an action game).

  34. Helm says:

    I didn’t have the patience for Fool’s Errand back in the day. I extremely enjoy World of Goo, truly one of the better games around.

    There is nothing terrible with Gabriel Knight having faults. There’s something terrible with the fans of the genre disregarding these faults because of their nostalgia glasses. On that foundation that the premier point and click games of the 90s were very good all-around do today’s games immitate their worst qualities. There is needed an increased critical awareness in this genre of videogames. I am not the only one saying this.

    You say now that Art of Murder is not a game you’d exactly recommend, but above you clearly recommended it for those that would, I take it, enjoy a “satisfyingly brainwashing diversion” from other, more well-regarded in your opinion, even worse games. This doesn’t do wonders for your credibility as a reviewer (for what site do you review adventure games?) not so much because I stand to disagree with whether Art of Murder is a better or worse game than Sam and Max, but because I resent the implication that any fan of videogames should strive to be entertained by brainwashing diversions from other crap waiting to be consumed.

  35. Igor Hardy says:

    Well, you can certainly question my credibility as an English speaker as I didn’t realize that the term “satisfyingly brainwashing diversion” has such broad implications. I used it half-seriously to put down somewhat the very popular episodic Sam & Max games which contrary to the mainstream I find overly limited in gameplay terms. So I was actually trying to suggest to people to try out something else once in a while instead of just glorifying Telltale’s productions and saying every other adventure game is crap.

    I took part in the discussion concerning the quality of AoM partially because I wrote a positive review of it a while ago (although I used the lowest available positive score). I enjoyed playing it as I enjoy reading “The Shadow” pulp stories once in a while. The construction of some types of pulp stories, even their silly parts, just appeals to me. After the demo I’m not that eager to play the second part though.

    As you wanted to know, I write for an adventure games dedicated website – Adventure Classic Gaming – and also have a blog where I focus more on independent adventure games. And the only credibility as a reviewer/writer I need is that I avoid using the words “I am not the only one saying this.” My opinions are mine alone and I don’t represent any groups.

  36. Helm says:

    I see. Thanks for the information and dialogue.

  37. Pantsman says:

    The fact that Limbo of the Lost was rather well-received in adventure gaming circles before its theft of assets was revealed permanently damaged the credibility of these fans in my mind.

    That said, I quite liked Culpa Innata. Haven’t seen any RPS-ers talking about it. Anyone else have thoughts?

  38. Igor Hardy says:

    Thanks for the discussion, Helm. I hope I didn’t come off too antagonistic. I just don’t like when people cross off adventure games because of some broad condemning generalizations.

    @Pantsman
    Limbo of The Lost in adventure gaming circles had its own portion of kinky/weird stories actually.

  39. Dean says:

    Culpa Innata was a weird one. I played all through it like I play most adventure games: I talk to characters about unimportant stuff first before proceeding on to the stuff that advances the plot so I get the most out of it.
    The problem with Culpa Innata is if you do that, you miss the game. There’s no really many traditional adventure game puzzles in it (most are hidden away within a sub quest that you can easily miss entirely) – the game comes down to conversation. When I finished it and was given a score, I finally understood.

    The point of the game is to get info out of all the suspects and witnesses as effectively as possible, without pissing them off so you have to leave and come back the next day. It’s a nice mechanic, but it took me the entire game to realise that was the mechanic. That that was the game.

  40. Dean says:

    edit – It’s worth the £6 it’s available for on Steam though.

  41. Heliocentric says:

    I am enjoying overclocked. Gamefaqing it though.

  42. malkav11 says:

    I think the adventure genre could do worse than to fade away commercially. Just look at the text adventure scene. Stopped being commercially viable sometime in the mid to late 80s (although there have been a couple of attempts at reviving it as a paid format since then, none particularly successful on a larger scale.). But by now, there’s a flourishing fan community turning out works of a quality and sophistication all but unheard of during the commercial days – only a few Infocom games (Trinity, A Mind Forever Voyaging, maybe one or two others) and Legend games (Gateway, say) come close, imho.

    I think we may already be seeing some of that in the AGS community.

  43. Pantsman says:

    @Dean
    Luckily for me, I figured that out early in the game. It was my favorite thing about it. Unlike most adventure games, it wasn’t the same adventure game I’ve been playing since Monkey Island. It actually took the genre in a new and very interesting direction. I just hope it was successful enough to warrant further efforts by the developer.

    Also, the music and setting were quite nice.

  44. Helm says:

    Igor Hardy :

    No worries. I wasn’t attacking the premise of the genre (inspecting a branched storyline through the viewing lens of a developing character). I am not writing off adventure games at all, in fact I consider them potentially an amazing venue for emotionally and intellectually effective gaming, which is something we see really little of. I am just annoyed with how the form is constantly underutilized because of above mentioned reasons. My observations are not based on information regurgitated from distant sources, they come from my first-hand experience as a member of the AGS community and as an once AGS game developer myself. I actually remember when it was also enough for me for something to be a point and clicker for me to play it (there is just something about ordering a little character about on a beautiful static backdrop) and how I slowly became more aware of the limitations of past designs and more critical of them. A lot of other people in that video gaming scene do not go through this change I think, because nostalgia obscures. They buy new, awful adventure games, compulsively ‘solve’ them and then bitch on forums about how they were mediocre. But they buy more. Because the little men on the screen await instructions.

  45. whatwhywhen says:

    Actually the part where you smash the pencil to take a fingerprint is quite logical:
    Pencil’s core is made of graphite and powdered graphite is used to “lift” fingertips.
    p.s.
    Pencil’s core is often called “lead”, though it doesn’t contain any lead in it.

    Other than that, i agree with you that the game is horrible.

  46. Zap says:

    @Helm: always found it strange that so many people insist “le Serpent Rouge” is a landmark of great adventure puzzles. I only remember being frustrated and bored by it. That, and the befuddling sentence “I’m not ready for that shape yet”, which I’m still using regularly to this day in a variety of situations — to convey the idea that I don’t want to do something for no discernable reason in particular.

    All in all I found GK3 was pretty weak and Old Man Murray’s review pretty much on spot.

  47. Dean says:

    There’s a sequel to Culpa Innata in development. I liked Overclocked but it would have been ten times better had the whole “playing recordings of one patient to another” been implemented as a proper new mechanic in the game rather than shoe-horned into the regular point-and-click interface. Give us a screen with pictorial representations of each memory on a time-line, representing the main character’s notes.