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Video Game / Post Mortem (2002)

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Post Mortem (2002, Microids) is a murder mystery adventure game for PC. The storyline revolves around a retired American private detective by the name of Gustave MacPherson, who is hired by the dark, mysterious Sophia Blake to track down the person who brutally murdered her sister and brother-in-law in the Orphée Hotel, in the chic District 8 (Paris). The subsequent investigation will lead MacPherson into the heart of the darker side of the city, one of danger, uncertainty and suspicion. The main character suddenly finds himself in a situation where it is unknown whether it is safe to trust anyone, in addition to being faced with a confusing, baffling murder characterized by the unsure personalities of the victims.

It is part of a trilogy: the title game, Still Life, and Still Life 2.

This game provides examples of:

  • Baphomet: The Head of Baphomet idol allegedly worshiped by the Templars is the main MacGuffin, setting off the events of the game with the murder of an American couple, who were transporting the Head through Paris.
  • Big Bad: The raven-masked killer of the Whytes whom PI Gustave MacPherson is hunting is revealed to be Dr. Kaufner possessed by Gregoire de Allepin, the current identity of a Templar and leader of a secret society who made himself immortal by stealing bodies using the Head of Baphomet and killed the Whytes when they tried to steal the Head of Baphomet.
  • Contrived Coincidence: While looking for information on the Eatons' whereabouts, fate throws Hellouin into the exact same club the owner of which Gus is good friends with. Later on Hellouin gets back to said club for no other reason than to scare the living shit out of Malet and get Gus to begin a wild chase after Hellouin. Oh, and the two of them just happen to be at the club at that very moment. The same goes for Dr. Kaufner who... yes, it's never explained what the hell he was doing there.
  • Film Noir: Set in Paris, no less.
  • Genre Shift: The first half of the game seems to be a fairly typical murder mystery, with the only supernatural element being the visions that Gus has. When perspective shifts to Hellouin, suddenly a secret society is introduced revolving around a magical artifact that can swap bodies, and the killer turns out to be a former Templar who made himself immortal with the artifact.
  • Inspector Lestrade: Inspector Lebrun seems to fill this trope fairly well; he isn't of much help to Gus but uses him in order to put Hellouin (who is actually innocent) into jail and, in the longer run, to have him executed. According to Sophia Blake, he just wants to get done with the Whyte case as quickly as possible.
  • Lockpicking Minigame: The game includes a lockpicking minigame as a frustratingly hard puzzle, where you have to bring not one but five lockpicks into the correct (randomly generated) positions around the keyhole, based on how much they wiggle when you pull the doorknob. Thankfully, you only ever get one set of lockpicks and in both locations where it can be used, it is technically optional.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The game never indicates whether or not the late 1300th century Templar was actually able to transfer his mind into new bodies. It's left ambiguous if he did figure out immortality or if each new Grand Master just went insane and believed themselves to be the Templar.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: The murder of an American tourist couple in Paris -> a nefarious plot by a Templar to achieve immortality through Body Surfing and establishing a cult to help him find hosts via an Artifact of Doom.
  • Momma's Boy: Jacques Hellouin, the detective, lives with his mother who seems to play the part of his secretary/assistant and obviously helps him to keep a low profile after he becomes a suspect in a murder case. Rather a mild example though as Jacques is by no means your typical representation of the trope: he's an ex-cop and as a detective he doesn't seem like a guy you'd like to mess with. But he still lives with his mother...
  • Paper Key-Retrieval Trick: This is one of two ways to get into the murder room. The other involves regular lock-picking.
  • Private Detective: Two of them, actually.
  • Serial Killer: The villain is a killer who wears a Black Death-era physician mask. He starts off killing the two Whytes, then some days later, murders Malet, and can potentially kill Gus later on, bringing him to about three-to-four victims with a cooling-off in between.
  • Translation Convention: Save for a few exceptions, we are expected to believe that basically all the characters communicate in French and that includes our American main character (at some point his prostitute friend notes in surprise that he talks to himself in French). While English as a foreign tongue is referred to at some points in the story (seeing that the murdered couple was American) it never creates much confusion as Gus is, for the most part, the only native speaker of the language to be around, except when he talks to the sister of one of the victims, Sophia Blake.