Game review: Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat

I played the demo for Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat last night. Before I start talking about the gameplay, I'd like to point out that Big Fish Games no longer offers the hour trial of the game. While you still have 60 minutes to play, you only get a short demo. I was able to finish the demo in about 45 minutes. This annoys me because I used to really get into to game then have it turn off at the 60 minute mark. That forced me into a situation where I had to purchase the game if I wanted to know the rest of the story. With this demo, it stopped at the end of a "scene." Instead of leaving me with a feeling of "OMG. I didn't finish it!", it gave me the feeling of "Well, at least I finished this section." The demo should leave me wanting to buy the game. This change was a terrible idea. Onto the game itself! Despite billing itself as a hidden object game, it is more of a click-and-play action game. There is a lot of instances where you use an object in your possession to find another object to move you forward. For example, you need to find a razor, a tree branch, and a rope to make an item that will help you cut a dog's leash. However, none of these objects are located in a hidden object puzzle. They are all there in plain sight, waiting for you to grab them. I didn't reach any hidden object puzzles until I was about 15 minutes into the game. This might intrigue other people, but it bored me. I hope this is not the new trend in hidden object games.

Game review: Reincarnations: Uncover the Past

Sadly, I did not realize that Reincarnations: Uncover the Past is the second in a series of hidden object games before I started playing it. I think I would have liked to have played the original game first. Anyway, in the game, you play Jane, a woman who has been traveling through time via her past lives. I imagine the first game explains this a bit more. In this game, Jane has been committed to a mental institution. She plans on using her past lives to help her escape.

I found the game to be tons of fun. My favorite parts were where you have to combine objects in order to find something on your list. For example, you need to combine a brush and a boot to make a shiny boot. I also find the different storylines interesting. Each past life has it's own story and problem to solve. This keeps the game fresh so, even though they are the same puzzles, each one has it's own flair.

I actually haven't finished the game yet. I went ahead and got the full version. Hopefully you'll find it as fun as I did!

Game review: The Lost Cases of 221B Baker St.

While I was waiting for my laundry to finish yesterday, I decided to give one of the Sherlock Holmes hidden object games a go. Usually these are a little more difficult for a lazy Sunday afternoon, but I had faith that I could finish these puzzles without using my brain too much. I ended up being very surprised at what was presented to me. Instead of one big case you are trying to solve, The Lost Cases of 221B Baker St. is a collection of multiple smaller cases. In the sixty minute time frame of the demo, I was able to finish four different cases. Each case had similar yet different aspects. They each had a hidden object section, a puzzle section, and a memory section. The hidden object section was where you found your clues and, generally, one clue is messed up. This is where the puzzle section comes in. Sometimes you are piecing together a ripped up piece of paper; sometimes you are trying to slide a rock piece out of a box...each one is different. After you have found all of your clues, you move onto the memory section, where you figure out who is the suspect. Each suspect is attributed to a clue and it is your job to remember which clue goes to which suspect. You need to pick out the clue that has changed to eliminate that suspect.

I found the game much more interesting than other Sherlock Holmes games. There is usually a lot more exposition, which limits your actual game time. With this game, you can actually choose to play a version that has less dialogue. I prefer to get down to the game, myself. I can't wait to buy the full version of this game to see what the other cases have to offer.

Game review: Artist Colony

Since we were snowed in all weekend, I decided to waste some time playing Artist Colony. It looked a lot like Virtual Villagers. Since I really enjoyed that series, this should be fun too, right? Well, it's mostly fun. As with most simulation games, there is a set of goals that the characters need to finish. The story is about a group of artists coming together to rebuild an old artists' colony. (There's a backstory about friendship and love, but it's not really all that necessary to the game play.) You get money to complete tasks by selling the artists' works. Since you begin with only two artists, it's a little difficult to raise money. However, once you start attracting new artists to the colony, things can really get moving. Then it ends up being a little difficult to keep track of everyone. On top of that, I found myself getting bored with the tedious task of training the artist and having them create masterpieces to sell. Perhaps if the selling part went a little faster, the creating part wouldn't be so dull. As it was, I ended up with artists that couldn't create anything because I filled up my gallery yet no one was coming to buy anything.

Overall, it was a decent game. There were little annoyances, but I could easily overlook them. If nothing else, I wanted to see what the end result was.

Game review: Escape the Museum 2

Back in April 2008, I talked about Escape the Museum, a rather innovative hidden object game. A couple of days ago, I played the sequel, Escape the Museum 2. The underlying basis of the original game is there, however, they have changed a few things that make the game a little difficult. Each area you need to explore has two pieces: a hidden object section (and there's usually more than one of those) and a 'fix it' section. The hidden object part is pretty basic. They give you a list and you find the objects. Then, for the 'fix it' section, you use certain pieces from those hidden object lists to fix whatever is impeding your progress to the next area. Both of these are fine and dandy. Unfortunately, the game has added an ultimate 'fix it' section where you need to pick up pieces of a bridge that will be used later. These pieces are usually hidden under other objects in the main area. For instance, you have to move a pile of bricks to find one piece. The only way you know a piece is under those bricks is the slight shuddering of the pile when you mouse over it. If you don't find the piece, the area is marked "Unfinished." I don't know about you...but it bugs me to have an unfinished area so I had to keep going back to try to find whatever I was missing.

I really would like this game if it didn't have those 'Ultimate Hidden Object' pieces. Not only are they impossible to find, but you don't even know they are there unless you stumble onto them or leave an area to see it marked "Unfinished." It doesn't show up in any list at all. If that part doesn't bother you, then it's a fun game that I think you would enjoy.

Game review: Keys to Manhattan

A couple of days ago, my daughter asked if we could play a hidden object game together. Since I love spending time with her, I agreed. She chose Keys to Manhattan. In the game, you are Emily, an artist trying to save her childhood home. Her uncle, who she lived with after her parents died, has gone missing as well. As Emily, you have to track down the items needed to restore the house, as well as try to find her uncle.

After playing so many extremely difficult hidden object games, I was hoping that this one would be easy enough for my daughter to play. Many times you can't tell the difference between a 'family' hidden object game (where the puzzles are easy enough for the kids to play with their family members) and an 'adult' hidden object game (where you pretty much have to have ESP in order to find some of the items). Luckily, Keys to Manhattan came through for us. Not only were the hidden object puzzles adequately suited to a multi-player game, there were also parts of the house that needed to be aligned with their outlines in the house. We both had tons of fun playing and I hope to see more games like this in the future.

Game review: Princess Isabella - A Witch's Curse

It's been awhile since my daughter and I played a video game together. We decided to give Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse a try. You play Princess Isabella. She has been away and, when she returns, she finds the castle under an evil spell with all of the people locked inside mirrors. The princess needs to find who is behind the evil, while rescuing her family.

Big Fish Games has classified this as a hidden object game. However, it is so much more. Each room has a number of puzzles contained within. Some of them are hidden object but others are jigsaw puzzles or areas where you need to use an object you are holding in order to open the next area of the room or 'trivia' questions. We found this to be a great game because, while there are some areas that my daughter could do by herself, there were also areas that I needed to do by myself or that we needed to work on together. It was a great way to spend a few hours with my kid. I highly recommend it to any parents wanting a little extra time with the little one. (And by 'little one,' I mean in the 6 - 10 age range...)

Game review: Mr Jones' Graveyard Shift

When I saw the title of this game, I knew I had to play it. Something called Mr Jones' Graveyard Shift would either be awesome or awful. It turns out that it is a time management game. You play as Mr. Jones, owner of the local graveyard. Your job is to fill your customers' requests for their loved ones' funerals. Some want specific flowers, some don't want trees...there's a lot that they ask for, but, the gameplay for each is pretty much the same.

I actually had to play the game twice. The first time, I screwed up royally and had to start over. The second time, I figured out where I messed up and made sure to not make the same mistake again. That is when the fun kicked in. I didn't think I would actually enjoy arranging funerals. After all, it's a rather morbid thought. But it was lots of fun. At the very least, it's a good Halloween game!

Game review: Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light

Over the weekend, I took some time out to play Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light. I figured it would be a typical hidden object game that wouldn't require a lot of thought. Man, was I wrong! Each hidden object in the game comes in pieces. You have to find all of the pieces for each object. Then, where normal games would just mark off that you found that item, you have to use the item to find the rest of the list. For example, you have to find all the pieces of a key to open a chest that will hold a piece of another item. It makes the gameplay a lot more interesting since you have to figure out which is the first object you need to find all the pieces for and where to use it. I had tons of fun playing this game. I think I'll be buying it in the near future.

Game review: Wedding Dash: Ready, Aim, Love

Almost exactly one year ago, I talked about Wedding Dash 2: Rings Around The World. Another sequel, Wedding Dash 3: Ready, Aim, Love, has appeared on the scene. This time around, Quinn pairs up with Cupid to plan some weddings in some interesting settings. Unfortunately, this game is exactly like its predecessor. There have only been tiny changes, which barely make a dent in the gameplay. For example, you have the option to hire a few of Cupid's angels to help Flo serve the guests. (Yes, instead of a stand-alone waitress, it's poor Flo doing the hard work for you.) Quinn still has to pay attention to the guests themselves as one will frequently lose her yappy dog and Cupid has a tendency to knock over the presents. So, if you enjoyed the second edition of the Wedding Dash family, you'll definitely enjoy this one.