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Video Game / Carte Blanche

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Carte Blanche (subtitled Episode one: For a fistful of teeth) is a Point-and-Click Game developed by Montréal-based developer Absurdus and released in 2006.

The game follows Edgar Delacroix, a freshly-graduated history student with a comfortable upbringing that was sent by his parents from small Quebec City to Montréal in order to become a man. He resides in his uncle's appartment, and quickly finds a job at the private investigating agency led by Hardboiled Detective Gaspard Lemaître and his secretary Jeannine. He is given two cases: taking some compromising photos of an adulterer and his mistress, and figuring out who stole a Mayan statue from Gaspard's friend Telesphore's antiques shop.

The game is Deliberately Monochrome, and has a jazzy soundtrack, seeking to immerse the player in a Film Noir atmosphere of 1924 Quebec, albeit a heavily-comedic one. There is tons of optional dialogue, and all voice actors were bilingual; they did both the English and French voices for the game.


This is the first game in the "Kraken Trilogy", beginning with another one made by absurdus, Eye of the Kraken, unconnected story-wise with Carte Blanche. The final episode, Eight Tentacles of the Apocalypse, intended to tie the stories together, has yet to be released (see Vaporware on the Trivia page).

This video-game provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Warehouse: Where Edgar finds McCullough the smuggler, tied up and prepared for sacrifice by the Mexican.
  • Absurdly Elderly Mother: Granny McCullough is apparently 120 years old, if Romeo was not exaggerating. Her son is 40 tops, which means that she was a mother at 80.
  • A Degree in Useless: Edgar has one in History, and Jeannine berates his lack of knowledge in detective matters.
    Jeannine: You may well know the name of Alexander's 56th lover, it doesn't mean you could handle a gun like a man!
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  • Always Identical Twins: Brothers Mario and Luigi Strozzi are identical. The only way you can tell them apart is from the birth marks on their buttocks: Luigi's has the shape of Texas and Mario's of Idaho.
  • Arc Words: "Another schnitzel?" can be asked by Edgar to everyone he meets, with varying results.
  • Artistic License – History: The game generally does a good job of portraying its time period (see Roaring Twenties). The jokey references to Klingons notwhitstanding, there are two inaccuracies:
    • Eleonore refers to "third-world countries". The term arose during the Cold War to refer to nations aligned with neither the US nor the USSR. In 1924 the only communist nation was the USSR, and many nations still had colonies, so the term is out-of-place.
    • Edgar says to himself one day "This is D-Day". That won't happen for a couple of decades, mate.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: The priest has a rather... interesting way of making the farmers stop harrasing the communist:
    Priest: The Lord just told me the communist must be left alone! He said the cows were being punished for provoking counter-nature desires in some of you.
  • Blackmail: The most common reason people request Gaspard's services is catching cheating spouses. Edgar catches Luigi and Mario's wife in the act, and later uses those photos to blackmail Luigi into giving him info regarding the antiques shop heist.
  • Bowdlerise: Edgar calls someone a "Bloody tosser!" in the subtitles, but the voice actor says "Bloody Klingon!".
    • After causing granny McCullough to have a heart attack, Edgar says "Shit!" in the subtitles, but "Schnitzel!" in voice.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Edgar, through enough practice, can wipe people's memories temporarily by holding their head in a certain way, and become so good at ventriloquy that he managed to convince a (admittedly very goofy) communist that God himself was talking to him.
  • Chekhov's Skill: While a lot of the bizarre skills Edgar picks up qualify, Taxidermy in particular gets picked up at the very beginning and is only used near the end of the game.
  • Cliffhanger: At the end, Edgar gets a call and gets asked "Another schnitzel?". When he answers correctly "With apple sauce, bitte.", the foreign voice says he knows who killed Gaspard. Cue credits. This was intended to be continued (the game is technically "Episode one"), but the studio is no longer active, and it is unlikely that this third part will be published (see Vaporware).
  • Con Man: Telesphore Doucet mostly sells fake antiques to nouveau-riche types, like "unique" rings of Marie-Antoinette. Some are obvious fakes, like a vase showing Hermes playing poker, and some of his dialogue with the properly-educated Edgar implies that he is uncultured with regards to what he is selling. He does say, however, that he sells the real stuff on the side.
  • The Coroner: Dr. Freeman, a morbid man who sleeps in the morgue's drawers and politely talks to the corpses he examines.
  • Cranky Landlady: Mrs. Malaki is Edgar's landlady. She is nosy with regards to a modernist poet perpetually locked in her building's bathroom, pesters Edgar about paying the rent despite the fact that he payed it the previous day, is a widow with a Motor Mouth when talking about her past, and admits that the building's horrible state is the reason she doesn't stay in it.
    Mrs. Malaki: No shouting... No posters... No bringing back women... No bleeding... No drinking... No blasphemy... ...and by the way, the bathroom is at the end of the hallway.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The Mexican wishes to kill the smuggler for defiling his ancestors by feeding him to fire ants.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The entire game is in black-and-white, as fits something Film Noir-esque set in the 1920s.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: This exchange between Edgar, a small-town intellectual, and Eleonore, a respected professor from McGill university:
    Edgar: Don't you miss normal womanly activities?
    Eleonore: Could you ever miss washing clothes and changing diapers?
    Edgar: No, but I thought that...
    Eleonore: Then think harder.
  • Dirty Communists: The communist you meet is not treated with respect by anyone, and is a bit of a goofball (see Straw Political). Furthermore, he helped the mad Mexican by directing him to an abandoned warehouse because "marginal people have to help each other", despite seeing through his lies.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Differentiating the Strozzi brothers can only be done by looking at the birth marks on their buttocks: Luigi's has the shape of Texas and Mario's of Idaho.
  • The Dreaded: Jeannine strikes fear into the hearts of men. Even the though, manly Remy or womanising Alphetius shiver when she is mentioned.
  • Dream Sequence: Edgar has a short one every night. They all feature a character in a void, with distorted music playing in the background.
    • The first one, after Edgar's first day at work, is of Jeannine telling him to "COME!".
    • The second one, after Gaspard's death, is of him dancing with a cane, surrounded by skulls, as Edgar shouts about not wanting to be unemployed.
    • The last one is of two rows of the Strozzi brothers.
  • Drugs Are Good: The Mexican says that he owns a pharmaceutical company and that he wishes to introduce a new drug in America, extracted from local Marijuana plants. Edgar asks for a sample.
  • Enough to Go Around: You need to slap Luigi with a herring to wake him up every time you want to talk to him. Thankfully, there are infinite herrings in the Strozzi household kitchen.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Edgar figures the mystery of the antiques shop heist after talking to Eleonore. He is very excited that he did so.
  • Fan Disservice: The fat Luigi Strozzi is completely naked when Edgar talks to him at the hotel. Identifying the US state that has the same shape as the birthmark on his buttock is an important plot point.
    • Alphetius shivers when thinking about what Gaspard and Jeannine did together.
  • Fish out of Water: Edgar comes from the tiny Quebec City to Montréal in order to find a job. His father sought to make a man out of him this way. Edgar and Jeannine comment on Edgar's status, but he flips it around as an advantage in infiltration jobs.
  • Foreshadowing: At the end of his second day at work, Edgar talks to Gaspard at the bar. He vaguely asks Edgar to prepare for "certain possibilities". A few minutes later, he gets up and is promptly shot by someone in a car. He then dies.
  • Gangland Drive-By: A drive-by shooting is the cause of Gaspard's death. It is unknown if it was by gangsters, however.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Gaspard explains to Edgar during his interview that he asks the questions and that Jeannine rubs salt in the wounds.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Jeannine has a long cigar, which should make her evil, but she is on the side of Edgar and Gaspard. Her bad cop stance and status of The Dreaded, nevermind her (possibly smoking-stricken) voice do fit the image, however.
  • Gratuitous German: "-Another schnitzel? -With apple sauce, bitte." "Bitte" in this context means "please", while the schnitzel is something that most characters have no clue as to what it is.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Edgar's "philosophical" response to Gaspard's classic half-full/half-empty glass of water is that he doesn't believe in such dichotomies. Jeannine is not impressed.
  • Grumpy Old Woman: Despite her ambiguous age, Jeannine fits in her opinions of Edgar and his generation.
    Jeannine: We've seen dozens of your kind! Totally devoted Mama's boys. Young people these days... you've got no spark. Charleston dancing and opium smoking between two classes!
  • Guttural Growler: Jeannine, Jesus Christ. Her speech is more of a modulated death rattle.
  • Half-Witted Hillbilly: The farmers who harass the communist are described by Edgar as "inbred", outright state that they would burn/lynch the first stranger that came to the countryside (who else would slaughter their cows but the "man-witch"?), accuse Edgar of having the "tongue of the devil" for asking them about a schnitzel, and they begrudgingly leave when the priest makes something up (implying that some of them wish to do unspeakable acts to the cows in the process).
  • Hardboiled Detective: Gaspard fits the image, with his no-nonsense attitude, implied heavy drinking, fedora, and mysterious past.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Scottish/Irish barman, a former sailor, has seen a lot of the world, and has some interesting tales to share.
    Barman: Last time I ate [a schnitzel], I ended up with Bismarck on my back. He tried to choke me with his monocle. Happily, I managed to escape. I simply stole an experimental submarine prototype. And that's when I met that Danish princess... But that's another kind of story.
  • Historical Domain Character: Ivan Fedorovitch Kalita, aka Ivan Shopliftin, is a reference to Ivan Daniilovich Kalita, a XIVth century duke of Moscow, who through good relations with the Golden Horde amassed respectable wealth.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Granny McCullough faints when she finds Edgar in her basement, falling on her back with a shocked expression and gasping for air as she dies from a heart attack.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: How Edgar tries to get away from the inbred farmers suspicious of his devilish words like "schnitzel":
    Edgar: Sorry, I have to go, I have a... er... cow on the stove.
  • The Informant: Kid Butterfly peddles info, and knows much more than what is in the newspapers he sells.
  • Inherently Funny Words: "Schnitzel", of course. Edgar can ask basically everyone about it and see their varied reactions.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: The farmers accuse the communist of being a sodomite, albino, Jew, and artist, responsible for slaughtering their cows. This is his response:
    Communist: Hey! It's true that I'm a communist, and a jew, and albino also... But I would never touch a cow, I'm a vegetarian!
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Edgar's wrestling move, taught by Remy, can temporarily erase one's memory, even of who they are.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: If you have a score of 7, you can use either Scam, Ventriloquy or Wrestling on the Mexican in order to get him to leave the smuggler alone and solve the antiques shop robbery. The final cutscene that follows is, however, always the same: after a few days, Edgar gets a call and gets asked "Another schnitzel?". When he answers correctly "With apple sauce, bitte.", the foreign voice says he knows who killed Gaspard. Que credits.
    • Scam ending: Edgar convinces the Mexican that he read a paper which said the Mayans were peaceful, and that the sacrifices were made up by European colonisers. Enraged at the imperialists, the Mexican decides that he'll show everyone how kind the Mayans were, beginning by freeing the smuggler.
    • Ventriloquy ending: Edgar uses his skills on the mask the Mexican was wearing, saying that it is prince Atahualpa and that he does not require the sacrifice, just his dentures.
    • Wrestling ending: Edgar makes the Mexican lose his memory and tells him how to return to Mexico.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Edgar's thoughts about a photo at the agency's office:
    Edgar: Looks like Gaspard was once a water polo player. That adds a new colour to the portrait of his already complex personality.
  • Mayincatec: The Mexican wishes to sacrifice the smuggler because he "went too far in the line of desecration", and that nothing will stop him. He also first wants for the smuggler to give him prince Atahualpa's dentures, as his mother is of Mayan descent. He also claims to have a strong Mayan identity, having read all about them, and that he even visited Machu Piichu. When Edgar explains that the site is Inca, and that the distinction predates the arrival of Europeans, the Californian Mexican admits that he doesn't know everything about Peru.
    • The stolen statue is Olmec. Telesphore, however, refers to it as Mayan, and when Edgar calls him out, he says it's more convenient to call it such.
  • Medium Awareness: Romeo Duguay says this:
    Romeo: You think your puny persuasion competence can impress me? I've been doing this job for 20 years, I must have something like 30 in persuasion resistance!
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Edgar finds some ants on a cat's skeleton in granny McCullough's basement. Eleonore tells him they're from Central America. Edgar manages to figure out the mystery with this information:
    Edgar: A Mayan antique is stolen... An Indian sailor from Mexico deserts his ship... The man responsible for the burglary disappears... Cows are found without flesh in Saint-Leonard... The Indian kidnapped the one responsible for the disappearance of his ancestral stuff, and he wants to avenge his God by sacrificing his victim with red ants! He's currently hiding in Saint-Leonard where some ants have escaped and eaten innocent cows!
  • Mirror Monologue: Edgar gives himself a short one every morning.
  • Morton's Fork: All three ending options lead to the same ending.
  • Motor Mouth: Mrs. Malaki will not shut up about her late husband.
  • Mundane Fantastic: Edgar gets a "Fire of God" paperclip in his mail. When he picklocks a door with it, lightning comes down to it and makes it disappear. Edgar is unphased, and later Remy simply comments that they are very expensive.
    • Edgar briefly summoned a ghost and did not flinch when it appeared and talked to him.
  • Mysterious Past: Both Jeannine and Gaspard have one.
  • Mysterious Woman: The ad for the agency makes Edgar believe that Jeannine is one. The only part of the trope that fits her is the mystery; she apparently showed up at Gaspard's office one day, asking to become his secretary. Gaspard refused, as he didn't have enough money, but she just moved her office there and started taking care of everything, having never left since.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Edgar is a greenhorn to this whole detective business, but he does the best he can. Naiveté is even a stat of his, that decreases over the course of the game.
  • The Needless: Jeannine apparently would rather die than sleep or drink.
  • Nerd: Intellectuals Edgar and Eleonore both get treated as such, especially by Jeannine.
  • Nice Hat: Gaspard's fedora and Edgar's porkpie.
  • No Indoor Voice: Jeannine shouts half of the time, which does not help one understand her.
  • No Name Given: The Mexican you meet is only known as "Mexican" in Edgar's files. Similarly, the communist never gives his name.
    • None of the McCullough family's members give their name.
  • Noodle Incident: The coroner Dr. Freeman, when wrestled, says something from his childhood: that he won't put rats in his brother's bed again.
  • No Sense of Humor: Jeannine says that she would rather die than sleep or drink. When Edgar tells her that she has an odd sense of humour, she replies "What sense of humor?".
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Eleonore has tons of classics and reference books in her library. Edgar thinks that, if she read all of them, then she must be "knowledge made woman".
  • Point-and-Click Game: Progress usually involves talking to the right people to get the right items for what you need to do.
  • Present-Day Past: While there are o couple of historical oddities (see Artistic License – History), Edgar occasionally utters the word "Klingon", as a joke.
  • Private Detective: Gaspard Lemaître, owner of a private investigating firm, and Edgar as well.
  • The Professor: Eleonore teaches at McGill university and has tons of classics and reference books in her library. Edgar thinks that, if she read all of them, then she must be "knowledge made woman".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Romeo Duguay, the police detective in charge of the case, never treats Edgar badly. He is respectful, concedes when he missed something that Edgar didn't, and helps him whenever he can.
  • Refusal of the Call: Edgar doesn't really want to take over the agency after Gaspard's death, but after Jeannine yells at him and calls him "chicken-shit" he quickly changes his mind.
  • Religion Is Magic: Edgar manages to summon a ghost of a Russian noble with a (fake) Byzantine icon. The ghost is very unimpressed at the plastic thing he was presented with, and returns to his chess match with Louis the XIVth.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Jeannine's pet iguana Isaac. Jeannine says that he has "balls", that he smokes, and then she forces Edgar to caress him.
  • The Roaring '20s: The game takes place in 1924's Montréal. There are references to this new Jazz music, communists trying (and failing) to foment revolution, those who stand up for the rights of blacks being thrown into jail, and other such things.
  • Robbing the Dead: Edgar rips granny McCullough's Mayan dentures from her corpse's mouth, as the Mexican wants them before he can sacrifice her son, an antiques smuggler.
  • RPG Elements: Edgar has a whopping 18 stats, a few useless and others required for certain actions or for the ending. They can be improved through certain acts, observing or practicing them. They are Naiveté (starts at 11 and is the only one that decreases, the rest starting unrevealed at 0), Reputation, Barter, Bitterness, Break-in, Corruption, Deduction, Examination, Music, Observation, Persuasion, Scam, Searching, Spying, Tail, Taxidermy, Ventriloquy, and Wrestling.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Edgar is occasionally longwinded.
    • His written files are incredibly flowery, downright belletristic at points. His character profiles are, however, terse.
    • This exchange with Gaspard summarizes Edgar's writing perfectly:
      Edgar: Tuesday, July 20th, circa 1924. Interpreting the evidence provided by the client, I pay the Roger hotel a visit. There, making use of proven psychological methods, I extract from the incorruptible clerk the lovers' geographical location. Then, fearing nothing, I climb the rusty fire stairs to their room. My camera held tight, I shoot vice in its love nest. How do you like it?
      Gaspard: Very good, James Joyce, but here's my version. 20/07/1924: Roger Hotel. Data extracted from desk moron. Climbed fire escape. Took shots of lovers in filthy room. Basta.
  • Shamu Fu: Edgar slaps Luigi with a herring in order to wake him up. This animation plays every time he initiates speech with him. Good thing the Strozzis' home has a room containing infinitely-respawning herrings.
  • Shout-Out: The Italian Strozzi brothers are named Mario and Luigi.
  • Sinister Minister: The priest in the countryside says that God does not care for Communist Jews. Edgar manages to make him shoo all of the angry farmers surrounding said Communist Jew only after Edgar bribes him with a (fake) Byzantine icon.
  • Skewed Priorities: After seeing Gaspard dancing with skulls around him in his dream after Gaspard's death, Edgar's first tought is that he doesn't want to be unemployed, despite finding a job in his first day in Montréal, and that no-one will protect him from Jeannine and Isaac.
  • The Sleepless: Jeannine would rather die than sleep or drink.
  • Spear Carrier: The notary has three lines. He comes to tell Edgar that most of the late Gaspard's assets went to family and friends, but that he said in his will that his assistant would take over his private investigating firm, who just happens to be complete-greenhorn Edgar. He is then never seen or mentioned again.
  • Stat Grinding: In order to beat the game, one needs a 7 in either Scam, Ventriloquy or Wrestling. The only way to raise these stats is to use their respective skills on the other characters and hope that they are effective.
  • Strawman Political: The communist that you meet in the countryside, besides conforming to every stereotype possible (though Played for Laughs; see I Take Offense to That Last One!), has some interesting ideas about Marxism:
    The communist: According to the scriptures, when the revolution will take place... Marx will come back on Earth to judge the rich!
  • Street Urchin: Kid Butterfly, the newspaper boy. He grew up on the streets (Edgar comments on his privileged upbringing compared to the kid), and so learned to peddle info and effectively scam people, pulling tricks on Edgar as well.
    Kid Butterfly: And please consider that I have a syphilitic mother to take care of. As well as five illegitimate brothers and sisters!
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Edgar gets this ad in the mail:
    Improve your starving figure with the Abyssinian balm! Get a chest that will make milking cows jealous.
  • Symbol Swearing: At the very end, when you are asked to export a file with Edgar's stats for a future game, your options are "Of course! Edgar and I will never part!" and "No %$@# way!".
  • Take Up My Sword: Gaspard said in his will that his company will go to his assistant upon his death. That assistant just so happens to be Edgar, with precisely two days of experience in it. Besides this, Gaspard also let a briefcase with a code: "-Another schnitzel? -With apple sauce, bitte." Edgar hopes that he will figure it out eventually, for Gaspard's memory.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Edgar's uncle's specialty. He left a shark, a giant turkey and a camel in Edgar's appartment, and even a lighter inside of the camel. Edgar prefers not to think about it too much, despite the fact that "Taxidermy" is a (apparently useless) stat of his.
    • Becomes even more so when Edgar hastily taxidermies granny McCullough's corpse after taking out her dentures with a crowbar. Her son is very indignant in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue within the credits about what Edgar did to her.
  • Teach Me How To Fight: Several characters teach Edgar skills, and others offer opportunities for increasing those skills' stats.
    • Gaspard teaches him Examination, Observation and Deduction, all skills a detective should possess.
    • Remy teaches Wrestling, namely the "Alaskan seal move", which temporarily erases the victim's memory.
    • Eleonore gets rid of a Ventriloquy manual by giving it to Edgar.
    • Alphetius teaches Corruption, Scam[ming] and Tail[ing].
  • Telepathy: Occasionally other characters will respond to Edgar's internal thoughts. For instance, when he commented (to himself, entirely in his head!) on the sad state of the hotel entryway's plant, the clerk asked him what was his problem.
    Clerk: Here you go again, are you plantophobic or something?
  • Thinking Out Loud: Edgar begins one of his observations about Telesphore's fakes in his head and ends it out loud.
  • To The Bat Noun: Excited that he has figured out the entire case, Edgar exclaims "Everyone to the Edgar-Mobile!", which does not exist.
  • invoked True Art Is Angsty: The poet locked in the bathroom has some poems that Edgar can listen on to, mostly about sadness and bile.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Jeannine (see the clip under Guttural Growler) tells Edgar he could learn something from the dirty pictures he took, "Snow White", and tells him to come back when he's lost his virginity. Edgar has no clue how she figured it out.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Edgar is weak physically and a bit too intellectual for his own good. He can, however, over the course of the game, develop his skills to a ludicrous degree. His Wrestling and Ventriloquy become terrifyingly effective.
  • invoked What an Idiot!: Everyone calls the Strozzi brothers dumb. They did try to pay a barman with a stolen (fake) Byzantine icon, after all...
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: All of the secondary characters comment a bit about Edgar at the end, their positions having remained unchanged.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: An important plot point is that differentiating the Strozzi brothers can only be done by looking at the birth marks on their buttocks: Luigi's has the shape of Texas and Mario's of Idaho. Edgar, a French-Canadian, doesn't know the states' shapes, even if the player might, so acquiring a map of the US from Eleonore is necessary to progress.


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