The Dame Was Loaded
You are Anger. Scott Anger, a 1940s private eye. Since the untimely murder of your girl, Angela, singer at a local club, you've spent your days investigating the bottom of a whiskey bottle. That is, until fate brought her through your door. Her name is Carol Klein. She's young, beautiful and very worried. She tells you about her brother, Dan. Restless in Oregon, he had decided to move here to the City of Angels. Each month he would send a check home. Last month, she failed to receive that check. Now it's been over a month and she still hasn't heard any word from him. Fearing the worst, she's come out to Los Angeles to check out the apartment where Dan had been staying, only to discover that it had been leveled. Not knowing what to do, she has come to you. Now, it seems that you are her only hope.
This could be just what you need. A reason to stop thinking about Angela. A reason to get out of bed each morning. Here is an opportunity to help out a sweet little gal from Oregon, find sobriety and get on with your life. It doesn't hurt that she's offering a hundred and fifty bucks for the job and that rent is way past due. You tell her that you'll take the case and find out what happened to her brother. She leaves, full of confidence that you will get to the bottom of this mystery. You quietly ponder where to begin your investigation, thinking that old Lady Luck might finally be going your way. Yep, this could be just the thing to get your mind off your own troubles. Unfortunately, your troubles are only beginning.
The case starts to really heat up as you find out about the stolen diamonds, get worked over by thugs, and then people close to you start turning up dead or missing. In the midst of all this, the emotional scars that were just beginning to heal are starting to reopen, as the mystery of what happened to Dan Klein runs headlong into the murder of your gal, Angela.
The Dame Was Loaded uses a Myst-like interface, accompanied by Full Motion Video. To move about the city, all you have to do is pull your handy road map out of your glove compartment, point and click on an area and you automatically drive to that location. Once you arrive in an area, Dame uses a combination of still shots and video segments to let you interact with your environment and the numerous colorful characters that inhabit the city. By placing the cursor over objects, you can use, take and examine them. The cursor changes to represent the specific action that you can use with each object. A cool feature that breaks up the static pages is the full-screen video. I was surprised that the video segments ran as smoothly as they did. It was also nice that the videos didn't overshadow the playability of the game. There was a good balance of video and gameplay.
Cool Features include:
- Multiple inventories
This is a really cool feature of Dame. With only a limited number of items that you can carry on your person, you are forced to choose where you want to store your inventory of items. You have to decide what to carry on your person, what to leave at the office, in your trunk or in other places. This can really affect your game, especially if someone decides to search one of these areas or if you pass out somewhere! This makes for good replay value, just so you can experiment with leaving objects in different places.
- Non-linear game play
You are not forcefully led down one specific path. This adds to the realism of the game, but also adds to the pressure of being in the right place at the right time.
- Multiple saved games
It is kind of frustrating that you have to be in your office to save a game.
Original cool jazz soundtrack
Depending upon your detective skills, the game may end quite differently. This allows for replayability and experimentation. - You're racing against the clock
Time, in this game, is not your friend. If you decide to get up early and hit the streets, you're likely to be frustrated that many places where you go for clues aren't even open yet. If you waste too much time, you are likely to find that many locations close at 5 PM. Although this is realistic, it is also frustrating. There is a reason why you are wearing a watch, and you will soon find yourself consulting it very frequently. For each place you drive to, time is deducted. For every person you talk to, time is deducted. Luckily, in the evening after the newspaper has shut down, there are still various places where you can go to get some clues and continue your investigation, but be forewarned. Just as in real life, you are going to get very tired if you don't eventually go back to your office and get some shuteye.
The non-linear gameplay was pretty cool. Dame doesn't forcefully lead you down one path. It allows you to actually choose where you'll go and when you want to be there. However, just like in real life, if you aren't where the action is happening you will miss it. Initially, I was very frustrated by this. I would miss clues and waste time, only to find the game over after my partner assigned me to another case. Yet it forced me to start from the beginning and become more thorough. Eventually, I began to find new clues that I had overlooked and the game changed dramatically from that point. In fact, the more clues you discover, the more areas open up for you to explore.
The installation of the game was very simple and my sound card was auto-detected successfully. I was able to play the game using Windows 95, but had trouble with my sound card. Under DOS, the game played very well and the full screen video played near-flawlessly. The game is mouse-driven, although you can use the keyboard. With a mouse, you merely point and click. As you move the cursor over various hot spots, the cursor changes, reflecting the functions that can be enacted upon that object: move, examine, take, use and talk. Alternatively, a right-click will always examine the object that you are pointing to.
Another cool feature of The Dame Was Loaded is the game within the game. If you're feeling lucky, or want to get some answers to questions, try heading to Jake's Joint for a round of poker. You're likely to find several of your shady friends, ready for a game. Just remember, it's just as easy to lose big as it is to win big ... maybe a little easier, considering that these guys play every night.
Like all good detectives, you carry your trusty notebook with you everywhere you go. Dame automatically takes notes for you as you interrogate people and examine locations. This is very helpful for going over what you know to date and for planning your future course of action. Don't be afraid to take objects and questions to your partner, to get his insight. You may have to wake him up, though.
A few words of advice: Examine everything. Check out every hot spot you can find. Ask questions, find out who your friends are and don't forget that sometimes a small bribe might open doors for you. Remember, as you work your way around the city, talking to all the strange characters that live there: people can get uptight if you ask too many questions or harass them frequently ... especially if they learn that you know something that might incriminate them. You probably won't make too many friends as you poke your nose into other people's business, but that's the risk you take as a private eye. You'll learn when to press people and when to let them cool off.
486/DX33, any major sound card, 8 MB RAM, 6 MB free disk space, 256 color VGA display, mouse, CD-ROM drive
All in all, this game went from being very frustrating to really engrossing in a matter of 24 hours. The first 24 I hated it, and then as I was persistent the game slowly started to open up. The more I played it, the more drawn into it I was. Soon I found myself starting to get very paranoid and didn't want to trust anyone. I found myself saving the game frequently and trying out different approaches.
The plot was well-thought-out and there are more than enough weird people to interact with, to keep you interested. I especially liked playing poker with the boys ... although they usually relieved me of some of my money, I picked up a lot of valuable clues and even beat them in a hand or two.
If you like a good detective thriller and can overlook a bit of overacting, I would encourage you to check out this game. It is guaranteed to keep you occupied for a long time. Overall, I gave it a 70 out of 100.