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Video Game / Still Life 2

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Still Life 2 is an adventure game developed by Microïds. It is the immediate sequel to Still Life and the final entry in a trilogy that includes spiritual predecessor Post Mortem (2002).

A couple years have passed since the end of the Chicago Ripper murders. FBI agent Victoria McPherson is tracking down a new serial killer; the East Coast Killer, a man in a gas mask and long-coat who abducts women and forces them into a sadistic death course while filming their suffering, which he then sends to the media and authorities. Vic pursued him while fighting off the ghosts of her past. She runs into Paloma Hernandez, a television reporter chasing the story, and the two do not get along. But when the killer captures Paloma, she and Vic must work together to escape.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Vic is a gun-toting police detective hot in active pursuit of the second serial killer of her career. Intrepid Reporter Paloma exhibits ingenuity and courage in her attempts to escape the traps.
  • Alone with the Psycho: For starters, this is what Paloma wakes up to after being kidnapped.
  • Anyone Can Die: Virtually every character seen on screen is guaranteed to die. Even saving one of the leads is plot-optional.
  • Arc Words: Repeated at several junctures, including by the East Coast Killer: "You only get one chance." it's a reference to the fact that the player only has one chance to solve the final puzzle, with no reload allowed.
  • Big Bad: The East Coast Killer is the murderer who Victoria MacPherson is hunting down, and he kicks off the plot by kidnapping Paloma Hernandez, forcing her to brave his death game. The killer is a Collective Identity between three people; Terence Curtis, David Karson, and former FBI agent James Hawker, the latter of whom seeks revenge on Vic and the law for firing him after he killed a suspect.
  • Booby Trap: The East Coast Killer's house is rife with these, from improvised electrical circuits to full-on land mines.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: The East Coast Killer has a fingerprint lock on his PC. After Curtis dies, Vic is able to cut off his finger and use it to access the PC.
  • Bring It: How Vic takes down the killer.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Vic and Paloma can beat the East Coast Killer(s) and escape, but Vic's new partner, Garris; her old partner, Hawker; former lover Richard; the sheriff, and at least five deputies are all dead. Paloma doesn't take it nearly as hard.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The East Coast Killer is known to torture his victims before actually killing them, usually on tape. No motivation is given beyond sadism.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The East Coast Killer keeps locks of hair from his victims.
  • Criminal Mind Games: Between purposefully leaving evidence to taunt police, booby-trapping the house the clues point to, leaving an apparent escape route for prisoners that offers several death traps, and playing to the hero's phobia, they run all the way to the end.
  • Deadly Game: The East Coast Killer forces his victims into a twisted obstacle course where they must solve puzzles to escape, all while their suffering is filmed on camera. At the end, when he gets bored with his victims, he shoots them dead.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Several of the East Coast Killer's victims were street prostitutes targeted for their disposability.
  • Distressed Damsel: Paloma is captured early on and held hostage as the East Coast Killer's newest victim. She tries to escape on her own, but even that's just part of his plan- he films her doing so in order to send it to the media and for his amusement.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: For an atomic bomb shelter, it's got an extensive network of internal surveillance cameras. And a few prison cells. And really only one room intended for living in.
  • Faceā€“Heel Turn: Hawker, originally a heroic FBI agent, was discharged for needlessly killing a suspect and decided to throw in with the East Cost Killer.
  • Face Your Fears: Bizarrely, Vic is confronted with a flamethrower trap, which forces a flashback demonstrating how she got her pyrophobia- including her conquering said pyrophobia, which allows her to re-conquer it in the present.
  • False Innocence Trick: One of the killers, David Karson, introduces himself as a prisoner in the fallout shelter and asks for help getting free.
  • Gas Mask, Longcoat: The East Coast Killer's public face is this, as it allows him to both hide his identity and scare his victims.
  • Guide Dang It!: A few, despite the fairly straightforward puzzles. Most spectacularly, the fact that allowing Paloma to die can't be fixed if you reload.
  • Harassing Phone Call: The East Coast Killer sends these to Paloma as she ventures through his torture dungeon, and later text messages to Vic when she is trying to navigate his traps.
    I've kept you a place in my cold room, McPherson.
  • History Repeats: The granddaughter of private detective Gus McPherson and the grandson of Serial Killer Mark Ackerman mirror the roles their grandparents found themselves in years ago.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Vic succeeds in killing the East Coast Killer by baiting him into running over his own land mine.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: As is typical for an adventure game, Vic and Paloma each routinely carry a dozen or more items despite lacking any bags or large pockets. Of course, your inventory is not infinite and you do have to place items inside storage spaces if you do not have enough space for more.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Paloma is brash and aggressive in chasing the East Coast Killer story, and displays similar attitude in her escape attempts from captivity.
  • In the Back: Each of the six sheriff's deputies apparently meet this fate before being dragged out and arranged in the front of the farmhouse.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • You can find a copy of Still Life late in the game. Vic comments that the main character looks and acts just like her.
    • Hawker during the final puzzle also mentions that "if this were a video game, I would program it so you can not try again" referencing how the game employs a non-Save Scumming feature during this puzzle, and whatever outcome you get is final.
  • Oh, Crap!: Great work, you've tracked the killer to his hideout and even found enough evidence to name a suspect! Now with the underground base open, all the secrets will be known to you—and only in the fifth chapter! Until the sheriff sprouts a crossbow bolt in the chest and you suddenly realize the killer has already hunted down all five of the gun-wielding deputies and dispatched them silently with a knife.
  • Pixel Hunt: Two chapters specifically revolve around CSI-style investigations of crime scenes.
  • The Plan: The East Coast Killer targets our heroes, imprisons/taunts them separately, and lets them attempt to escape and outthink him on the assumption that he's covered all the angles. His backer Hawker has one as well, with different objectives.
  • Red Shirt: The sheriff's deputies are given no characterization, but do drive up the body count when they're taken out by the killer.
  • Revenge: Hawker claims this as his motivation for betraying Vic after he was kicked off the FBI for firing needlessly on- and killing- a suspect. He blames everyone, including Vic.
  • Serial Killer: The East Coast Killer has already claimed multiple victims when the game opens.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Vic tries this on a door in the farmhouse.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Vic can set off several pounds of C4 literally ten feet away in a concrete-enclosed space and walk away just fine.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: The sheriff takes an arrow in the chest in the middle of a conversation summing up your investigative findings.
  • Timed Mission: A few puzzles have active timers and explode if you fail to solve them quickly.
  • Time Bomb: The final puzzle in the game is an attempt to deactivate one.
  • Torture Cellar: The atomic bomb shelter has been converted into this for the East Coast Killer's victims, where they have to solve puzzles to survive. For example, the victims wake up poisoned and have to hurriedly search for the antidote among four identical-looking tubes, and one puzzle involves intentionally shocking yourself in an electric chair with just the right voltage.
  • Ye Olde Nuclear Silo: Exploring the atomic bomb shelter is a central element of the later chapters.