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?”)