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Private Eye

Windows - 1996

Also available on: Windows 3.x

Alt name Philip Marlowe: Private Eye
Year 1996
Platform Windows
Released in United States (1996)
France, Japan (1997)
Genre Adventure
Theme Detective / Mystery, Full Motion Video, Licensed Title, Puzzle elements
Publisher Infogrames Multimedia SA, Riverhill Soft Inc., Simon & Schuster Interactive
Developer Brooklyn Multimedia
Perspective 1st-Person
3.57 / 5 - 7 votes

Description of Private Eye

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Private Eye is a good adaptation of the Raymond Chandler classic "Little Sister" noir novella.

Strategy Plus says it all: “[this] is an absorbing, well-produced movie using... cel animation techniques. Private Eye truly looks like a 1940s movie. The voice-overs of the on-screen actors even sound like the old '40s radio shows, and the background music will send Dixieland fanatics diving for their vintage vinyls.... What you'll be treated to is an absorbing, well-produced movie using some simple but effective cel animation techniques. In the likes of a Dick Tracy cartoon, Private Eye truly looks like a 1940s movie. The voice-overs of the on-screen actors even sound like the old '40s radio shows, and the background music will send Dixieland fanatics diving for their vintage vinyls. It's almost as if you can sense the wafting smoke of a thousand cigarettes billowing in a hazy fog near the ceiling of a shadowy room, with Bogart himself rehearsing the lines with his trademark sneer.

Being able to choose between playing out the original story as it was written, or an alternative plot is a nice touch for anyone who's well acquainted with Philip Marlowe's motion picture exploits. A fairly extensive cast of starlets, thugs, and cops can give you clues about the disappearance of Orrin, the man you are hired to find. A nicely arranged interface lets you check news on the radio, hear any phone messages, and examine your logbook to brush up on all the people and places you've encountered. It's no problem tracking all the information you obtain, because a diary is included which thumbprints all your conversations. Your office holds everything from your gun to any evidence you can nab from crime scenes. And there are quite a few crime scenes.

With all that Private Eye has going for it, unfortunately the designers omitted a small, yet crucial feature: the mystery. Ironically, you'll spend much of the game searching for something, heck, anything needing solving. The facts pertinent to the case are laid out for you far too often. So when you start feeling smug about having learned something important to the case, be warned: somewhere in the conversations to follow, that neat tidbit of deduction will be spelled out plainly like a size 89 Helvetica font. This unfortunate bent towards giving away critical clues doesn't just happen occasionally during play. It happens for the game's entire duration, with depressing consistency. It's tantamount to playing the board game Clue with all the hidden cards taped face up to the frames of your bifocals. Suspense? Only if you're farsighted. Private Eye is the classic case of a good attempt, using all the elements of a great game; but it stumbles in the area of substance, something which should be the very cornerstone of such a product.”

Despite very thin gameplay and almost absolute lack of challenge, Private Eye is one hell of a slick, well-made animated movie. Alternate paths throughout the game, multiple endings, and great voice acting make this a good addition for every noir fan's collection. As long as you keep in mind that it is more a stylish, faithful multimedia reproduction of Chandler’s classic rather than a game, you’ll have a great time. Thumbs up!

Review By HOTUD

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Comments and reviews

schmox 2022-09-12 1 point

I didn't play it, yet - but it's on the list of games supported by scummVM (, which should make it easy to play - IF you manage to install it, of course.

John Smallberries 2022-08-14 0 point

This is one of the games that won't work in DOSBox. It also won't install in Windows XP. The only way I managed to get it to run is to use 86Box and install Windows 98SE from WinWorld. The game suffers badly from a bad mix and the inability to adjust the volume of the music. It also has a few hiccups storyline-wise but otherwise it's enjoyable.

MechantCerbere 2021-11-28 2 points Windows 3.x version

To Pearlite:
My friend, just use a virtual windows machine like VMWare. You'll install your game like on a real machine and reboot your computer (the virtual one) as much as it will be asked to you. Your virtual machine will react like a real computer.
DosBox is great but it only works on sessions.

Pearlite 2019-06-13 2 points

I used the Windows 3.1 emulator with my DOSBox to try and run the game. I was unable to install it properly because after installation, the game prompted me to restart my "computer" [emulator] to finish installation, and I still could not run the game afterwards.

Although I thought I removed all the data from the game after I was unable to run it, now my emulator automatically tries to install whatever is mounted on my virtual disk when I start it, even if the program is already installed. I don't know if I can reverse that.

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Windows Version

DownloadRIP Version English version 123 MB DownloadAlt ISO Version English version 320 MB DownloadISO Version English version 328 MB ManualEnglish version 274 KB

Windows 3.x Version

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