Monet and the Mystery of the Orangery
(aka Monet and the Mystery of the Orangerie Museum)

Review by Jen

I loaded up Monet and the Mystery of the Orangery thinking it would be an educational title dealing with Monet, something along the lines of Night Café, merely a dry discussion of Monet and his work with maybe some limited degree of interactivity. So I was taken by surprise when it turned out to be a straight adventure game.

There is a conflict revolving around the use of the Orangerie building in Paris. One faction wants to use it as a museum to house the works of Monet, and the bad guy, Derrick, wants to extract oil from the site. Get it? Oil? Derrick? The museum option is chosen, and you play as a young architect who has been hired to do the renovation work on the building. But Derrick hasn't given up, and he and his two henchmen hatch a plot to blow up the Orangerie building so that they may take the oil after all. It is up to you to foil their nefarious plans.

The game is linear, but within each segment, you have total freedom of movement (it's a realtime 3D game) and can complete many of the tasks out of order. The gameplay incorporates two elements: inventory puzzles and timed sequences, and sometimes a combination of both. I know we all hate timed sequences, but these ones all provide ample time as long as you have figured out what to do. There is, however, a lot of dying in the figuring-out part, so if you play, save early and save often. The puzzles are pretty simple, and the game is not difficult—I'd estimate I got about six hours of gameplay out of it, and that was with writing a walkthrough at the same time and repeating a lot of sections to make sure the walkthrough was accurate. You never need to combine inventory items, and the game's segments never incorporate very much area to cover. Monet is advertised as an "adventure game for all the family," and while some of the puzzles might be a little difficult for younger players, older children would probably enjoy the game.

Control is combined keyboard and mouse, keyboard for movement and mouse for working with inventory and interacting with items on the screen. This can be awkward at times, but after a little practice, it doesn't really get in the way of the game. Perspective is first-person. You get unlimited saves, and you can have several sets of saves with each player having his or her own game. The mechanics of the game are straightforward and don't merit detailed description here.

In one of the segments, you meet Monet himself and get a chance to look around his studio. Here you can click on several of the works to hear the Monet character talk about them, but that is the extent of the educational value of the game. There is an option from the main menu where you can look at several of Monet's works, but these are pretty much there for your delectation only; there is hardly any text attached to them and no description whatsoever.

The characters are modeled after those in some of Monet's paintings, and the game locales appear to have been chosen to match up with one or more of Monet's works. This is where the game really shines—throughout the game, you really feel as if you were playing inside the paintings themselves. There are some funky things as a result of the 3D rendering, like trees and flowerbeds that look like painted cardboard cutouts, but overall, the graphic designers did an absolutely masterful job, especially for a game that doesn't require a fancy computer to run. There is one part of the game where you can row a boat around the pond with the water lilies, and this is probably the most gorgeous piece of animation I have seen in any game. The reflections on the surface combined with the transparency of the water exactly capture the flavor of Monet's work.

I really enjoyed playing Monet. It is a surprisingly unpretentious little game that revolves around what could have been a pretentious subject. The only reasons I didn't give it a Four Fat Chicks Gold Star rating are its short length and the extreme amount of dying, never a favorite gameplay device of mine.

Later, much later (May 2002): I played Monet on Windows 2000, trouble-free. It subsequently came to light that many, if not all, Windows 95/98 players hit a bug at the end of the game that caused them to be unable to complete the last little bit. Thanks to Henhouse member LadyLinda, we now have a savegame available. Click here (it's a very small file), save the file to your Monet savegame directory, and restart the game and load from this save. The End

The Verdict

Pretty good

The Lowdown

Developer: Wanadoo Edition
Publisher: Wanadoo Edition
Release Date: 2001 (English)

Available for: Windows

Four Fat Chicks Links

Walkthrough
Player Feedback

Screenshots

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System Requirements

Pentium 200 MHz
3D acceleration video card with 4 MB memory compatible with DirectX (8 MB recommended)
16-bit sound card
32 MB RAM
8X CD-ROM drive
Windows 95/98 (I played it in Windows 2000, and it ran flawlessly)

 
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