Monet - The Mystery of the Orangery
Release date: 08/2000
Developer: Media Factory
Publisher: Wanadoo Edition (former Index+)
Game language: Englisch
(French and Spanish versions also published)
A review by slydos 7th February 2003
Unfortunately this adventure game of former Publisher Index+ (now Wanadoo) never made it to Germany. And also the English version, which is subject of this review, belongs to the rare games. Why this is so, probably only Wanadoo will be able to explain. Even if it deals with French issues, this adventure with learning effect is not only interesting for Frenchmen.
Monet welcomes you on every game start
Reality and fiction about famous impressionist artist Claude Monet is here skillfully interweaved. In reality it befell, that in the year 1927 the Orangery (a greenhouse for orange trees), located in the large gardens (Tuileries) in front of the Louvre should be converted into an exhibition for Monet's art. Monet worked at that time together with the architect Camille Lefèvre and terminated for this his famous sea-rose cycle.
In our adventure we slip into the role of the architect, who wants to contact the artist, in order to discuss the project. But the conversion into a museum has also opponents with special commercial interests. In the role of the architect we track a plot to destroy the Orangery. Of course we want to prevent this and travel to Monet's residence Giverny, to Le Havre, Rouen and Paris.
"Monet - The Mystery of the Orangery" comes on 1 CD with English manual in a DVD box. Fast and automatical the game installs itself with 2 MBs on hard disk. Although denounced only for Windows 95 and 98, "Monet" can also be installed and played problem-free under Windows XP.
First one is confronted with Claude Monet himself, who politely asks for the player's name: here different players can enter their names, so that each player can store his/her own savegames. With the first start we may practice controls at this place, in the garden of Monet's house in Giverny, before we go to the clear main menu consisting of seven menu options: Start a Game, Load a Game, Practise, Gallery, Settings, Credits and Quit.
If we start a new game, we can watch a short intro, presenting us the two competitive projects regarding the Orangery in form of newspaper articles. Monet's art project won the competition against the other pure commercial project and his opponent makes a devilish plan ...
As the architect we arrive at Le Havre and are welcomed by the mayor - from this point we can take over the control of the game.
Monet has combined mouse/keyboard controls. We move in 1st-person-perspective in a 3D-evironment using the arrow keys. We can turn and move infinitely variable and freely. With CTRL we can run faster, SHIFT lets us jump and ESC leads back to the main menu. Thought have been given to bumpy ground or small obstacles such as curbstones when moving over them, by camera and noises. Sometimes obstacles are so high or far that we must jump. All in all a very simple character control, even making no problems for me when balancing over planks. However the menu option "Practise" misleads a bit, since Monet explains the controls not quite right: There the CRTL key is indicated as jump key! So it's not very helpful! Better rely on the manual.
All interactions, as speaking or taking up objects and using them, are excecuted with the mouse. The cursor clearly changes its form. As soon as we take up an object, an inventory bar appears at the bottom of the screen where we have to place the object. With Spacebar we can open the inventory again and select items. Inventory objects are not combinable. The duo mouse/keyboard control is not so comfortable when we want to examine the environment, since we must stop again and again to use the mouse to look around for hotspots and then again switch to the arrow keys.
Savegames are unlimited with a self-chosen text. We can save everywhere, even during the time-dependent puzzles.
Returning to the main menu, saving, loading or exiting the game are fast actions - only within the game there are sometimes delays and short waiting periods while loading a new scene.
The combined control offers a good middle course between pleasant freedom of movement and the somewhat unpleasant change between mouse and keyboard. In any case you don't get as dizzy as during the pure mouse-controlled games as e.g. Dracula of the same publisher.
The graphics of "Monet" are something special. The gamers move THROUGH the paintings of Monet. All scenes were designed after paintings of Monet and the developers tried to take over the style of the artist as exactly as possible. That succeeded extraordinarily well, be it in the garden of Monet's house composed of bright, shiny dots or in the pastel colored alleys of Rouen. One can walk through St. Lazare station and look around between the trains - wonderful! But not only the beautiful scenes are perfectly designed in 3D, there are also many 3D-characters we meet. There is Monet himself (after a self-portrait) or the chestnut seller, the policeman, ticket salesmen, the captain or the train guard - all figures from Monet's paintings. The lip-synch succeeded not always and the characters look a bit 3D-squared, but their movements already come across very realistic.
Animations, like moving water or a humming bee are rare, but they enrich the picture supported by a suitable soundscape, e.g. quiet bird twitter and the slightly aspirating wind. The English dubbing is expressionful and well understandable. Sub-titles are however missing.
A beautiful addition is the Gallery in the main menu, which shows many paintings of Monet used in the game. Here you get a description of each painting and can also zoom them to full screen mode.
A big part of the puzzles are object/inventory-based. They are easy, since only puzzle-relevant hotspots appear, only few inventory objects are used and the game process is very linear.
The degree of difficulty is intensified however by time dependant puzzles, e.g. getting a driving off train. But these timed puzzles are solvable with few attempts and no frustration. If one should not complete a task in the time running off, you'll have to face a Game Over. You can also die, if you fall e.g. into a frozen creek.
Especially during the final puzzle you will need several attempts, in order to disarm the bomb, which is going to blow up the Orangery.
But even when when you have to repeat those timed puzzles several times you won't need more than 5 hours to finish "Monet".
"Monet - The Mystery of the Orangery" is meant as entertainment for the whole family and it is indeed entertaining despite its brevity. The idea, to use the art work of Monet as locations is unusual and a marvelous eye candy. Learning about Monet and his work is a nice side effect. The difficulty level matches the target group Family and you even don't have to do without suspense. Only handling and short playing time lower one's sights. Who attaches much importance to challenging and long-lasting puzzles, should rather keep his/her hands off this one.Rating: 65 %
80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable 70% - 79% good game, recommendable 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable) 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only) 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
Minimal system requirements:
- P II 233 Mhz
- 32 MB RAM (64 MB with Windows 98)
- 16-bit sound card
- 3D video card
- 8x CDROM
- compatible with DirectX
- Windows 95/98
WindowsME Pentium III 850 128 MB RAM Sound- and graphic card DirectX-compatible Toshiba DVD-ROM
Monet's garden in Giverny
The mayor of Le Havre
Inventory is opened with Space bar
Flight across the roof?
The chestnut seller
A thievish magpie
The cathedral of Rouen
In the studio
The gallery shows Monet's paintings