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Shades of Black Review

Shades of Black Review

Shades of Black Review

A classic detective mystery adventure simple enough for beginners but interesting enough for experienced gamers.


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Developed by

Published by


Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Release date: August 10, 2015

Shades of Black is MDNA Games’ latest installment of the adventures of Carol Reed. For any of you not familiar with Carol, imagine a British Nancy Drew living in a small Swedish town.

The Story

This latest adventure finds our heroine between jobs and quite bored. So she decides to write a book about one of her cases and submits the manuscript to a local publisher. The publisher calls, but he’s not interested in her book… One of his “real authors” has gone missing and he wants to hire her to find him.

The author, Gerard Black, had a wife who was murdered several years ago. He was cleared of all suspicion, but the murderer was never found. It doesn’t take long for Carol to determine that the murderer is stalking Black and forcing him to solve a series of elaborate puzzles. In a not-so-subtle message, the murderer lets Black know that “If you don’t stop me, I will kill again and it will be all your fault.”

Carol must follow two trails – the elaborate puzzles leading to the murderer and the trail of Black who is on the run, trying to avoid the whole situation.

The trails take Carol all over town, merging and diverging until they must eventually meet. Who will Carol find first? Will the murderer be brought to justice? How will the final confrontation play out? And who is going to pay for Carol’s hotel bill? The answers to these and other questions await in the game.


MDNA Games is a one-man shop. Mikeal Nyqvist writes the story, creates the content and even does the music. He’s not an exalted master such as Jonathan Boakes, but he’s developed his own homespun style which is quite effective.

The graphics are simply photographs of the town of Noorköping. Each episode takes us on a tour of the many parks, museums and institutions. It almost feels like you are taking a short, intimate vacation. Interactions with the townspeople are also photographs with each character speaking his or her own parts. Very simple, but it works quite well.

The background music is different for each location. They’re all classical pieces – simple, but more than just chordal progressions. The volume of the music, voices and sound effects can all be set separately .


Puzzles are mostly inventory-based with several combination locks thrown in. All the puzzles are fair with the solutions readily available and a hint book to point you in the right direction. Complex clues are automatically added to your inventory so there’s no need to map or take notes.


The gameplay is consistent with no dead spots. Experienced adventurers should have no trouble getting through it. Plus your journal will always tell you what can be done next and the space bar will reveal all hot spots on the screen. These aids make the game ideal for the beginning adventurer.

The overall pace of the game is as laid back as the small Swedish town it which it takes place. It would be an excellent game for young people, but not too young (there are a few paintings of tasteful nudes and at one point your inventory contains a set of nipple clamps). There are two scenes that contain mild violence.

Final Thoughts

The story is well-done. It’s simple enough to be plausible, yet complex enough to be interesting. The only plot hole is the classic “At what point should the detective call the police.” Rarely did I feel like it entered Fantasy Land.

The bottom line is that I had fun playing Shades of Black and have no hesitation recommending it to others. You don’t have to play any of the other Carol Reed Mysteries first to enjoy this one – it plays very nicely on its own.

Grade: B+
Delightful tour of a small Swedish town.
Relaxed, homespun feel
+ Reasonable puzzles
Built-in hint system that actually helps

System Requirements
Microsoft® Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
Processor: Pentium 1000 or higher
Memory: 128 MB RAM
Graphics: 16 MB Video Card
Hard Drive: 800 MB available space

Bob Washburne

Bob Washburne

I have been playing adventure games since 1979 when I played "Adventure" on the DEC PDP minicomputer at work. The first adventure game I ever purchased was "Zork 1" for CP/M. I can remember the introduction of the IBM PC. I remember the invention of the microcomputer (actually, it was discovered rather than invented). I remember the invention of the minicomputer. Yes, I am an old fart. I have written 80 reviews and articles for JustAdventure starting with my review of "Bioscopia" in February of 2004. I currently own more adventure games than I will ever be able to play, let alone review. And I want more!

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