I took a chance on this game because it was on sale for a dollar. While its heart is in the right place, this game just doesn't live up to the standards set by other games in the genre...
Navigation is a bit of a problem on some screens; it can be hard to tell which direction the arrows are pointing, and whether there is a new area to explore or not. Speaking of navigation, I really hope you like backtracking. The majority of this game involves running back and forth across the map to re-do hidden object puzzles you have already completed. There is almost no way to tell what room you will have to backtrack to next, so do yourself a favour and just click the hint button. It's better than wasting your time running around willy-nilly. At least the game is kind and lets you instantly teleport to a handful of pre-selected screens from the map, mitigating some of the backtracking monotony.
The point and click puzzles were a little challenging, not because you couldn't figure out what needed to happen, but because some puzzles could realistically be solved in more than one way, and the "intended" solution didn't always match up with my adventure-gaming expectations. (For example, did I really need to backtrack across the mansion to find a pair of tweezers when the small pliers that were already in my inventory would have easily gotten the job done?) Combine this with the fact that some puzzles require you to be pixel-accurate, and it can be hard to tell whether you are doing the right thing and it's just not taking, or whether you need to use another item altogether.
I also had an occasional problem with disappearing, reappearing puzzles. First with the crane, and then at one point in the greenhouse, I completely lost the ability to interact with a puzzle, even though I had the right items in my inventory. Each time I had to leave the area and come back later for the puzzle to reset itself.
The hidden-object sections were not bad, although they mostly followed the "we're going to put a bunch of things that don't belong together on shelves, and have half of them completely blend in with each other" style of puzzles. For instance, having a paintbrush hidden inside the leg of a chair, or having a machete hidden along the trim of a cabinet. For the most part, the items were easy enough to find, however a few of the puzzles were especially blurry and undelineated (I'm looking at you, hazy greenhouse). The listed object names were fairly straightforward, and there were only two instances when I felt they needed a more clear word choice.
Another minor thing that bugged me was the fact that the "dust in sunlight" flavour animation looked remarkably close to the "puzzle here" animation, which was mildly confusing at first.
As far as what the game did right:
- They had a pretty decent musical score that fit the atmosphere well, and the voice acting was on point.
- The story was compelling enough. I liked the way it unfolded through scraps and clippings.
- The art and backgrounds were quite well-drawn, on par with the most of the larger studios.
- There were a variety of interesting locales on the map, and the use of time travel to enhance a few of the screens was a fairly novel surprise for this genre.
- The mini-games were quick, fun little diversions that enhanced the otherwise repetitious gameplay.
- The hint system is pretty good at giving you directions on where to go next.
If you are thorough and click on everything, use the hint system to minimize backtracking, and have even the most rudimentary hidden-object and adventure gaming skills, you will finish this game in one sitting with minimal trouble. It is not the best game, and the ending is a let-down, but it's worth a dollar if you get it on sale and are really, really bored. If you are looking for a challenging game, with intriguing puzzles that seamlessly blend the HOG and P&C genres... this game is not it, go pick up "Abyss: Wraiths of Eden" instead.
Overall rating: 4/10