Part 1: One Big Plot DumpLet's start playing 15 Days by clicking the shortcut
We're greeted by the launcher. 15 Days needs it because we can't change the graphics settings from inside the game, and also starting it directly will throw you right into the intro, as there is no title menu.
Anyway, the intro.
A pixelized cigarette pack is not the best logo for your company image.
Incidentally, does anyone remember the logo of Cryo Interactive?
I think, they want to kiss. Anyway...
We are, probably, in London.
Call it a hunch.
The Big Ben is assaulted by a man with a drill.
And the man has backup.
Meanwhile, the first review of 15 Days is in.
And it's not favourable. By the way, this will be the talking head for the LPer in dialogues.
Going by the spelling, we're no longer in Britain.
Done! This should fetch a us a million or two.
Meanhwile, a woman-like 3D model is climbing up a wall. No, the top right section of the screen is not used.
Meanhwile, someone is softly hitting a lock in the best pre-rendered scene of the entire game.
The lock opens and the screen does that TV splitting thing.
What's in the case?
: Ladies and gentlemen, this is what is commonly known as money. It comes in all sizes, colours and denominations, like people.
These letters are inedible, and won't fit on the cake. And what can you spell with F F I F?
A phone! A hand! Gasp!
A beard texture close-up... the intro is really going downhill, but it's almost over.
Well, the pre-rendered part is over anyway.
We're back in London.jpg. These panoramic shots are pretty bad throughout the game. As the camera swings left to right the depth effect is created by parallax scrolling. It utterly fails to hide the fact that the Tower Bridge is a big sprite sliding over a few smaller ones.
I remember 2009 like it was five years ago.
: It's a game character.
: Now, I'd like to point out that I can barely hear the male voice reading the blue line here. 15 Days has hilariously atrocious sound balancing, observing which is easily the best part of the playing experience.
: I can't hear if there was any voice for this sub. But it's nice for the game to assign different colours to different characters.
: Huh sweetheart? Sleep well?
: Next question.
: For a cinematic adventure the game's shot framing is already something fantastic, and it will get better. Wait till we get to facial animation.
Downstairs we see the portrait of a Roman emperor as Robin Hood. Enjoy the "dude in shades" poster, too.
: Did I miss a line?
: Keeping it as a full shot to highlight the fact that the developers do not separate addresses with commas.
(coming up from behind): Careful what you say... Madame is indisposed.
: The guy takes a step into the frame in the previous shot and immediately ends up on a chair when the camera switches. However, he starts speaking as he walks, and his voice is completely uninterrupted by the switch. It's bizarre.
: Listen guys, don't get on my nerves, OK?
: Up there.
: It's probably gone cold...
: Shut up Mike.
: I'm already gone!
Yes, we get to watch her walk to the stairs and toggle the screen transition. You get to watch everyone walk in this game.
: "House of Tales shuts down"
No, we don't actually learn what's said in the paper in this cutscene. We'll have to read it after we gain control.
Clicking on massive icon in the corner allows us to access the map....
...which is useless at the moment and will remain so for most of the game.
To get either the game's options menu, or the inventory you need to hover your cursor over the map icon and then slide it along the side of the screen. For some inexplicable reason you can't just poke the left or the bottom of the screen for the menus.
At last, the title screen! With a "new game" option, in case you missed the intro.
The default audio settings have everything cranked up to maximum. I'm keeping them.
On to the inventory. Her name's Cathryn, apparently.
That is the most disinterested "Look" icon I've ever seen.
: My mobile, with a matching headset.
: Now I press a key and you can, technically, see every active spot in the room highlighted with barely visible grey icons. This is one of the most interactive rooms of the game.
Let's take a look at the projection screen.
Pardon, let's "Investigate".
: The projection screen.
: Genius! By the way, did I mention that the game boasts five hours of voiced dialogue? Not counting the pauses easily as long as the voiced lines.
OK, what about the birthday cake?
: The guys are really sweet.
: But not the cake, that's why no one took a bite out of it. Also, if you bake a cake, and it's not a Sacher, you're doing it wrong. Also, Cathryn is... five?
Ready for more exposition? Answering machine time!
: Our answering machine.
: You have two new messages.
: I... got your number from your friend Tom. He didn't want to give it to me at first. But I told him it was important. And it is, isn't it? I've only got one daughter. And you've only got one dad. Well... I would rather have spoken to you in person... But, oh well, this will have to do. Happy birthday, I wish you all the best. I... have no idea what kind of life you live now...
: Please, don't stare at the subtitles.
: Yeah, well... By the way, Spot died last year. Cancer. I had to let them put him to sleep. He didn't feel a thing. And hey: the tree that we planted behind the house, remember? It's eight metres tall now! Eight meters. Sometimes I look at it and think about how old you were back then and... wonder if we...
: Gah, the shadows!
: God, I hate these machines. Can't you pick this up? OK. I guess you're out. Well. Take care my girl. Have a good time. I'll try again soon. Happy birthday.
Alas, there were two messages...
: You have one new message.
: Hi Cathryn, this is Tom. Happy birthday!
: Come on, I can even tell that over the phone. You could get in touch with me sometime you know. Jacqueline is pregnant and we're getting married soon. I'd like to go on one last bender with you Jeff, and Nancy before all that happens. Yeah, once the little rug rat arrives I won't have time again for at least ten years. And york isn't really that far away. Think about it!
: The game keeps switching between the two camera angles every time a new portion of Tom's subtitles loads i.e. every couple of sentences. It gets annoying.
: He'd already gone through half the school's address book trying to find it. Yeah, and... I gave it to him. I hope you're not angry... You know, he looked really desperate. Perhaps you should give him another chance Cathryn. He's involved in some pretty nasty business, I agree, but he's your father and he loves you. Anyway. Just don't be angry, OK? Give me a call back, when you've got time.
: It's over. Now it's time for the final bit of exposition, the newspaper.
When a hotspot action is highlighted Cathryn locks onto it with her upper torso.
And now, the newspaper.
: While I cook the next update, hopefully covering more than ten minutes of cutscenes, try to find everything that's wrong with this image.
P.S. Here are some supplementary video clips for those who want to hear and see the intro in motion. Also, watch the answering machine scene to take in how well Cathryn moves and emotes.