31 Days Of Halloween – Day 6(ish): Post Mortem
Pity poor Post Mortem. I wasn’t too kind to this one in a previous podcast. Has time done anything to forgive my previous misgivings? Maybe….kinda….just a little bit. Take my hand, dear reader, as we bareback the shit out of Paris in DAY 6: POST MORTEM!
DO NOT DENY THE ARTIST IN YOU
Post Mortem sees you transforming, digitally, into Gus Macpherson, private detective/clairvoyant/painter/now that I think about it, I’m not entirely sure how he makes his money. Regardless, you are him. After a particularly gnarly vision of murder, you are propositioned by a Ms. Sophia Blake to solve the death of her sister and brother-in-law, found stabbed to death with their heads cut off and placed between their legs. Obvious suicide. But no! This was murder with a capital fucking M. And you’re just the private dick/clairvoyant/painter to figure this one out.
My god, this game is out of it’s mind. For all the marketing chatter and sleek, atmospheric box art, this whole game feels like Timothy Leary describing Paris to you. How people took this story seriously when this game came out, I haven’t a clue. Outside of the rather jolting opening cinematic, and one of the endings you can attain, the game is thin on shocks and high on drug-addled camp. Please note: this is not a bad thing.
WE’LL NEED TO DISCUSS MY FEE
I was too hard on this thing when Rob and I first discussed it earlier this year. I can’t remember what my gripes were, but I remember being sour over a particularly annoying puzzle which tasked me with finding the differences between two paintings. This is the sort of barely-justified puzzle that usually makes me smash my keyboard when playing an adventure game, and I remained pissy for the duration of my playthrough. What a shame. Dipping back into it reveals a game that is truly, deeply insane.
Take, for instance, the bistro. Other than a few characters you can speak with, the entire thing is a painting, including the other patrons. Walk right up to them and they reveal themselves to be flat cardboard paintings. People literally in the middle of pouring drinks and throwing their arms up in conversation, frozen. The music also sounds like something out of the Star Wars cantina. It’s glorious, and I’ve had food-poisoning nightmares less surreal than it. It also gives you the option to control almost everything Gus says, making it completely possible to piece together conversations that make no sense whatsoever (“And bang! Your wine turns into vinegar!”).
I recall reading reviews of this game around the time of release that painted it as a grim, dark thriller. I think that was my issue going in. It’s the equivalent of being told your date for the evening will be Nick Cave, and ending up with Liberace. Once you come around to the idea that this isn’t quite what you bargained for, you can find the charm in it. Sure, the puzzles are the typical adventure-game tripe (“Welcome to my home. I built a bunch of fucking pillars aligned by the planets. Bathroom’s upstairs.”), but there aren’t all that many of them. And yes, failing a puzzle can result in walking around, clicking aimlessly until the NPC allows you to give it another try. But it’s just so goddamn….loony. By the time I reached the ending, I had completely forgotten why the hell I was investigating this case to begin with. I sat enraptured as an 80 year old woman was voiced by an 18 year old girl. This is the type of mess that you just have to try.
A CERTAIN ENIGMATIC PHENOMENA
I have no clue why I enjoyed Post Mortem so much on a second playthrough – I really didn’t enjoy the first. All I can say for sure is that, having given it a second whirl while having not slept for 32 hours, it’s logic suddenly began to make sense. Indulge accordingly.
+ People who thought the storyline in Syberia was just too naturalistic
+ Those who have not slept for days
+ Someone who wants to see Paris the way it must have appeared to Jim Morrison