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The most important 48 hours of your life.

The Time: 7.30 am.
The Date: Sunday 24th April
The Place: The Place du Tertre, Paris

Ahh... Sunday morning in spring! The sun peepes through the gap in the blinds, the street outside is quiet except for the occasional chorus of birdsong. Everything's idyllic... or is it?

Paul Keirn, a journalist for the newspaper "Liberation" has to meet his fiancee, Virginie. But in the space of a few minutes, his life becomes a nightmare... his girlfriend has been kidnapped, a total stranger has been brutally murdered and it appears that the police have Paul down as the  main suspect!

You have 48 hours to clear Paul's name, catch the real killer and rescue Virginia. All the action takes place in real time. Use the video sequences to talk to people and search for clues, study photographic evidence to aid your search for the killer and use all of Paul's journalistic skills and instincts to aid your quest.

You are Paul Keirn... And you are in trouble!
The Morlov Affair. A multimedia Adventure from Titus.
~ from the back of the UK box

The FMV craze continues unabashed with this little-known affair from French developers CPIO Multimédia. First released for the Phillips CDi in 1996 and then later on PCs, L'Affaire Morlov (translated to The Morlov Affair) is a gripping spy thriller marred by a user interface that would baffle newbies.

Being framed for murder and the kidnapping of your fiancé, you traipse across the streets of Paris trying to find her. Over the next 48 hours, which whistles by in a condensed real time, you will need to clear your name and save the love of your life. It appears she's got herself entangled in something of a conspiracy, leaving clues and evidence around her apartment that will lead you to uncovering the truth. It's quite the gripping tale should you get a hang of its scattershot narrative structure.

The streets of Paris in the daytime. A blue filter will wash over it at night (left).
Using one of your many, many keys to open a door (right).

The FMV isn't of the highest quality either. Videos are limited to a small thumbnail at the bottom of the screen while the interactive window above it features digitized sprite-work to convey action. It's displayed like this solely for technical reasons; they couldn't fit larger video or image files on the single CD. The result is a cluttered and unnecessarily unwieldy user interface.

Taking up a third of the screen space on the right is your inventory, which will quickly populate with a smorgasbord of keys. You will also get some useful tools eventually, such as a camera, some binoculars and a loaded gun. Each are to be used at a specific moment and no where else. They missed a trick with this one, considering all of the over-acting Parisian pedestrians are begging to be shot at.

Take the wrong route and you will be arrested (left).
My screenshot skills failed me when shooting bad guys in a parking garage (right).

Both the original French and English dub are included on the disc, though I naturally played in the only language I can understand. The English voiceovers aren't egregiously bad, but I can't say they're particularly good either. Unfortunately, there's little instances of bizarre vocal inflections or strange accents to keep kusage-lovers satisfied leaving the whole acting endeavour unmemorable. The best bits were the background artists pretending to be natural.

As for the puzzles, well, most of them are pretty easy; use a key on a door, read a diary to find a pass-code - that sort of thing. If anything is particularly difficult, it's the timed countdown. Taking place on April 24th, you have 48 in-game hours to complete the game and at certain times, you must be at a specific location. If you jot everything down, it's not that hard to figure out but I always tended to miss an important moment by accidently clicking the timer one too many times. Instead of waiting around by loitering at a single location for hours, every click of the digital clock on the left hand side of the screen will increase the time by 10 minutes. The window for some scenes - like taking a picture of a suspect outside an art school - is very brief and if you don't know what to do you're locked into a game over (unless you remembered to save that is).

Perusing gravestones at the famous Père Lachaise cemetery. A clue perchance? (left).
The pedestrians of Paris are a highlight, except this one needs a picture taken before it's too late (right).

Generally speaking, however, the timeframe is quite generous. I often had to skip past five our six hours to reach the triggered time, though I admit it did take a couple of restarts to make sure I went down the correct route. One of the more interesting aspects of games like these is the multi-path narrative. If you head home first, you will be arrested wasting valuable time, but a secret service spy on your side will begin to help you by offering clues when stuck. I doubt veteran adventure gamers would need him though.

Overall, L'Affaire Morlov is a middle-of-the-road adventure. With more attention to the interface and visuals, it might've made more of an impact. From a plot perspective, it is very similar to Byzantine: The Betrayal who's 6 CDs came out within a year of this one. If you've played neither, that one is the one to play, but for those looking for something new there's a little bit of something here.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox-X build of DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 365 Mb.  Install Size: 517 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


L'Affaire Morlov is © CPIO Multimedia & Titus
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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1 comment:

  1. The story sounds intriguing - a little bit like Broken Sword meets Indigo Prophecy.

    I usually find these 'real time' adventures appealing and ultimately disappointing in equal measure. The promise of a wide spectrum of possible states - and therefore outcomes - is alluring, but the reality often descends into confusion, frustration or tedium as you try to address the possibility space and sift out the winning route from a haystack of failures. I usually find myself cleaving to the comfort of linearity like a blanket. But perhaps I should be braver!