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Story:  Hunker down at your flat at 221b Baker St. in London. The year is 1896, and Scotland Yard has called Sherlock Holmes with an urgent request for help. Along with Watson, you must investigate a peculiar crime – a young painter has been murdered and found rolled up in a remarkable Persian carpet. Explore scenes in order to find clues and reveal suspects. Use Police reports with interrogations and statements of witnesses in Sherlock Holmes: Mystery of the Persian Carpet. (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Options & Main Menu:  Both are basic but user-friendly.  The Options contains a Gamma setting so you can lighten the Graphics up – I suggest you use it as they are very dark.  You can also choose Timed or Untimed Mode – I recommend Untimed as the game-play is frustrating and very time-consuming for the first play-through.

Voice-overs: There are none.  Instead there are information-loaded scripted conversations between Holmes and Watson, which are rather lengthy (and tedious) – especially at the end of the game.  Voice-overs would make this quicker and more acceptable.

Music:  Classical violin music that Sherlock might have played.  Not too irritating as there are several pieces, but they do repeat several times during the game, so I suggest you turn it down so you can just hear it.

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Desktop:  There is the Help, Main menu, and Puzzle button at the top left of screen – in my version anyway.  In the Walkthrough this Puzzle button is replaced by Map, Scotland Yard, and (I think) a 221b Baker Street buttons.  A Hint button occurs during the game in each location so you can find the next move or item.

Tutorial: This is at the start of Play, is rather intrusive yet helpful.  It is very necessary for a Novice player, and can save some floundering around for the uninitiated. You can access this info via Help during the game.

Graphics:  Although dark as mentioned, they can be lightened by using the Gamma slide in Options.  I also set my screen on Games as it has that facility, which was even better.  They are good, relatively clear, with slightly subdued colour, and really suit the era of Sherlock Holmes.

Play Modes:  Casual; Detective; Adventure.  I chose Casual, and was very glad that I did.

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Map:  For those with the Map button, I guess you can access it at any time during the game to go between locations, or at least to do so when expected to.  For those with only the Puzzle button, you have to wait until you have completed each location including Puzzles before the game takes you back to the Map to find the next site.  It seemed to me that the only site you can access each time is the coloured one – the other sites have grey icons.

HOPs:   These are all sihouettes/shapes of items, although when you mouse-over the shapes in the list box each item is named for you.  This is a real help as most of the items you seek are very small!!  This makes the item search really difficult and a strain.  You can resort to the Hint – as I did a few times, especially during my first play-through.  Some of the Hops are hidden in a zoom site and others require ‘tools’ to be used on them.  There aren’t very many for each site – but it takes a log time to find them all.

Puzzles:   These are mostly okay, and are worth trying.  But there are definitely ones that need to be skipped immediately as they are of the unsolvable kind, and only increase the FF (Frustration Factor) tenfold.

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Game-play:   In between each location search you have to use the Lab Equipment to process the various pieces of evidence that you have collected.  This is a little tricky at first, but once you work out how to process each type it becomes easier.
Tip: Just remember that some of them may need several different solutions applied to them.
You also have to then use the Deduction Board to link some of the evidence to some of the Suspects and the Murder Scene.  This is also a little tricky, but trial and error and logic will get you there.
You then proceed to new Witnesses and new Suspects – reading their witness statements, and taking evidence off them using your Magnifying Glass. This all gains you new locations on the Map.

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Player Participation:   After the initial intro between Holmes and Watson, the Game-play settles down into its unusual format.  The player is involved in all steps, except for the dialogues between Holmes and Watson that occur occasionally.  At the end, when you have succeeded with your final Solution of the Evidence Board, H & W take over for a lengthy conversation informing you how the whole murder was committed and by whom.  It’s rather tedious and you find yourself wanting to not bother reading it – even though it is the whole point of the game, which is after all, a game about the great Sherlock Holmes!
Satisfaction Factor:  This is a shame.  There must be a better way of concluding the game, one that involves the player right through to the end.  It dissolves away most of the satisfaction in finally getting through the frustration of the difficult gameplay to the end, that wasn’t quite the end till you’d been told all about it.  Resolution is very important.  I point this out often.  It’s just better if most of the resolution is actual game-play.

Frustration Factors: This occurs right throughout the game – in particular not being able to exit a location during the game if you can’t go on.  You can of course go to Main Menu and Exit altogether, or you can press ESC which pauses the game.  If you have the Map button etc at the Top Left of the screen, then you may be able to move back and forth freely.  I certainly hope so.  For those of you with the Puzzle button, bad luck.  You just have to hang in there till you can find the missing items, and solve the Puzzles.  Resort to Hint when you’re really stuck.  And resort to Skip for the  no-fun Puzzles.

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Jud House 29/07/2017

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Posted in CRIME & MYSTERY, SHERLOCK HOLMES GAMES | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


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Adam Wolfe: Flames of Time contains graphic content and is intended for mature audiences.


I would like to say from the outset that I really loved this game, which, from the SURVEY ‘Sneak Peak’, appeared to be in four Chapters:
1. The Ancient Flame;  2. The Devil You Know;  3. Lady and the Painter;  4. Zero Hour.

It had an interesting story that combined Murder with the Paranormal, and was definitely for Adults Only due to the graphic nature of the murders and the accompanying violence, which fortunately was more matter of fact than dragged out too long.  This was refreshing in this HOPA genre of games, and I thought almost on a par with the much missed, wonderful, CSI (computer) Series.  It was a fast moving, highly interactive game, in which you had to actually do all the actions as they occurred.  This did slow the game a little but that was fine because it was due to Player Participation.  The characters portrayed were believable both visually and via their voice actors, and divided easily into those I liked and those I didn’t.  I really disliked his annoying, misguided sister, Allie, throughout most of the game, and I reserve my judgement about her even after completion – see what you think.  The game became rather tense at times, the sense of urgency was always apparent.  I really liked it.

Upon completion of the Survey I earmarked it immediately for purchase, then waited a rather long time for it to be issued.  When it finally came out, I purchased it, then began to play it from the start again.  I thought it was a bit odd that the title was now ADAM WOLFE: FLAMES OF TIME, and that on the PLAY Menu there only appeared to be 1. The Ancient Flame as the main game, and the locked game 2. The Devil You Know.  Where were the other two chapters?

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Story:  Step into the shoes of Adam Wolfe, an investigator of the supernatural. Driven by your sister’s mysterious disappearance, venture through the shadowy streets of San Francisco where crime and paranormal occurrences intertwine. (Big Fish sales blurb)

Options & Main Menu:    Both very good, well set out.

Extras:   There were none as it is a Standard game.  The Game-Play didn’t miss them, but it would be nice to have the HOPs to revisit at the end of the game, or if you just want to visit it without playing it right through.

Music & Voice-Overs:   I’ve already said how good the Voice-Overs were; and the Music was excellent.  I kept mine turned down low as I always do, as I don’t need the stress that adds to the game’s growing tension.

Desktop:   Intense Focus EYE, REVOLVER, Time-changing WATCH (Left); INVENTORY /LISTS/RIDDLES (Centre); PHONE (Camera, Journal), MAP, HINT, MENU (Right)

Tutorial:   Excellent, efficient, not too intrusive – can be opted out of at any time.

Graphics:   As with most MAD HEAD games, these are delicious, grungy sometimes, really colourful at others, atmospheric where necessary (though a little too much in the HOPs), imaginative, detailing the characters and their environments into reality.  I was immersed almost at once into their worlds.

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Play Modes:  Easy, Medium, Hard, Custom – I use the last one wherever it’s offered.  And the more choices offered the better.

Map:  This was good, interactive, with the usual Key to its function options.

HOPs:   My only problem with these were that there weren’t heaps of them, though I believe I revisited some.  There were Progressive Lists, Interactive Lists and Silhouettes, Riddles/Storylines with individual WORDS highlighted that you need to find.

Puzzles/Mini-Games:   These were scattered throughout the game, requiring solving in order to collect or open or unlock or dismantle or repair or combine something.

Game-play:   This progressed logically, keeping you moving forward, compelling yet disturbing at times.  The mechanics of the game-play were okay, a little skittish at times with the mouse action, but that could be my PC and not generally.  It would be interesting to get feedback about that.  And of course it was the usual B&F, P&C (Back & Forth, Point & Click) which the Map helped to alleviate by allowing you to jump from site to site.  Interestingly, this actually adds to the sense of urgency, rather than interfere with the sense of the game by not passing back and forth through the various chambers to get from one site to the other.

So after a while ADAM WOLFE: BLOOD OF ETERNITY was released, in which 3. Lady and the Painter, and 4. Zero Hour were to be found.  Instead of making it a Crime game with 4 Cases, it became a Series of 2 Games with 2 Cases each.  Financially more lucrative.  If they’d added HOPs as an Extra at the end they could have called it a Collector’s Edition and charged twice as much.  Or they could have been generous to the Players giving them what the SURVEY promised.  Naturally I earmarked the second Adam Wolfe game for purchase, as I needed to find out how the story ended – though it’s always expected that the protagonist would be successful.

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Adam Wolfe: Blood of Eternity contains graphic content and is intended for mature audiences.

Story:   Following his previous two cases, Adam begins to unravel a new mystery. This time, Adam comes to the aid of a painter that is besieged by a ghost. In his investigation, he learns more about the same cult and that it might be somehow connected to his missing sister. Through mortal danger, he reunites the painter with his departed wife but also attains a solid lead about his sister.

For the final case, Adam finds his sister, but also the leader of the cult which took her, leading to a confrontation. He narrowly avoids death and ends up in a strange world that seems to be completely morphed even though it resembles reality. Battling madness, he manages to find his way back to reality where he sees that he is about to get killed by the cultists and their powerful leader. Instead, his sister sacrifices time and Adam avoids danger but ends up trapped in a place outside of this world. (Big Fish sales blurb)

All the parameters from the first game applied to the second game.  Of course.  It was a continuation of the Main Story of rescuing his sister.  The complexity of doing so had increased hugely as you can see by the above storyline, but the game-play actions remained the same.  It was engrossing, scary, thrilling, annoying, frustrating, and very tense.  The merging of the Crime elements with the Paranormal was masterful.  There was more violence, paranormal characters and activity, progressively carrying you forward towards the culmination. As you would expect, the anticipation levels rose the closer you got to the end.

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Frustration Factors: Then it was over.  Just that.  The ending was unsatisfactory, ambiguous.  There was absolutely not enough of the culmination shown, you didn’t participate in the culmination as a Player.  It was done, dusted, packed away.  If you blinked you missed it.  I was so annoyed.  I was disappointed by, let down by, and completely pissed off at the game producers.  If you are creating a story-based game, then, like a novel, you should allow your audience to see it through properly to the end.  So many games drop the Player at the end, saying the characters were saved/were happy together/saved the world/found the missing relative or item etc, THE END.  That is not right or fair to the Player, who the producers have asked/relied upon to become involved in the story of their game.

That is where this great game is let down.  It doesn’t live up to the CSI Series, whose Producers got it so right – if only they would do so again for PC.

Satisfaction Factor:   So bearing in mind all that I have have just said – this is a really good Crime game.  It is all it should be as you play through it.  It leaves you wanting more, each time you finish a Chapter/Case.  You can’t wait to get back to do the next one.  But it falls flat at the end.  If you only care about the Game-Play, then you will love this game!  If the satisfaction of the Culmination doesn’t bother you, you will have a great time.  Go for it!  In fact to all Crime/Paranormal fans I say “Go for it!”  Just be prepared for the end.  Of course, it is highly likely that there will be another ADAM WOLFE – PARANORMAL DETECTIVE GAME to follow.  I could suggest that that  is the excuse for the shut down ending.  It may be a reason, but it’s no excuse.

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I highly recommend this game.

Jud House 5/02/2017

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Posted in CRIME & MYSTERY, JUD'S VIEWS & TROUBLESHOOTING, SPOOKY GAMES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Agatha Christie: THE ABC MURDERS

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Story:  After receiving a letter signed ABC, challenging him to solve a murder due to occur in a few days time, Poirot contacts Inspector Japp of New Scotland Yard to warn him.   They become involved in trying to solve what appears to be a series of murders based on the alphabet, of the victims’ names and of their locations.  The usual Agatha Christie well-constructed, cleverly interwoven, convoluted plot, with clues scattered along the way for you, as Poirot, to use or discard.

Options: Language, Volume, Video, Controls.  Under Video you can turn the game from High to Low, if your Mouse tends to ‘float’.  This of course affects the Graphics a little, making some  of the written documents impossible to read; and makes  the Game-play awkward at times, but makes the Mouse control much easier.  I had to resort to this on my Windows 10 computer.  I haven’t tried the game on my Windows 7 computer, as I thought that as it was a new game it should be compatible with Windows 10.

Main Menu:  Easy to negotiate – Play; Bonuses; Options; Profiles; with Player Name, Ego Points, Progress in top right. Quit shows as you leave the game.  Help contains the whole Tutorial notes, which you can visit by clicking Pause anytime during the game.

 Music:   Poirot theme versions, but very repetitive.  Can turn it right down so it’s okay.

Character Voices:   On the whole they are similar to those in the David Suchet movies.  However Poirot is disappointing as the French sounds Boer at times – it could of course be Belgian French, but if so, instead of sounding perfect, it sounds wrong.  So Poirot doesn’t quite have the right feel at times, as you’re playing.  Hastings and Japp are much closer to character, and of course the other characters all work well, as there are no expectations for them.

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Bonuses: Timeline; Reconstructions; Trophies.  Although the Timeline and Reconstructions tell you what you’ve already discovered, you can visit these during the game to see how you’re going, or to jog your memory.  If you’re Trophy orientated, a quick scan through after the game should suffice.  And if you miss any Trophies, you can’t collect them afterwards either – you have to replay the whole game again, possibly under a new Player name.

Desktop:   You have virtually the whole screen to play with.  An Arrow bottom right of screen opens to show HELP, Notebook, ‘?’ with which you access respectively the Tutorial, The Tasks, and ‘The Little Grey Cells’ for deduction.  As you gather Items to use – not many each scene – they are placed  in Inventory circles beside the open Arrow.

Tutorial:   Instructions are given initially as you begin, then a Hint at a time each Loading change of screen.  These are rather repetitive, but useful if it’s for something you haven’t done for a while.

Graphics:   As you can see by the Title Graphics at the top, they take the form of comic-book/illustrated novel, with animated linear characters walking through illustrated, perspective settings.  They are rather similar to some of the Sherlock Holmes games, rather than the 3D CG Graphics of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, EVIL UNDER THE SUN, and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, but you adapt to it quite quickly.

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Puzzles:   As there are no Hidden Objects (HOPS) this game is rather heavy on Puzzles.  And they need to be done in a certain order as well, which can be frustrating, not to mention cause you to stall altogether.

Tip: For example, the Clock puzzle you have to rotate the Clock and note the stuck Paper in its one Panel; then you have to set the Hands to 12; turn the top right Spindle; open the top Panel; turn the bottom right Leg; open the right Panel; remove the Key and note the Clue inside the Door; use the Key on left upper Gear, right bottom Gear, middle Gear; then use the Key on Metal Disk in the Clock Face; open the Panels.

Hints:  I found this Hints site, which gives enough info to get you through the touch spots.

Game-play:   This is a little confusing at first.  Click on all Icons to find out what they do and possibly lead to.  While seeming to be quite different from the other Poirot games (mentioned above), this game is equally interactive, requiring you to walk Poirot, and often beside him Hastings, through the scenes, examining all areas including bodies for evidence collection and the noting of information.  You can double-click for Fast Walk – which isn’t very fast.  You also collect Ego Points when you behave as Poirot would – like checking Poirot in all mirrors so he can see how he looks.

When you examine Evidence, you can turn them to examine them by dragging them around.  If you click on an Inventory Item you immediately gain this facility.  In other areas you are required to Look at a character to decide whether he/she is telling the truth, or how they are feeling.  Circles appear then turn green in the right spot.  It is necessary that you carry out ALL these actions within a scene, and that you Click on them all, before you can finally leave the scene.  So if you get stuck check the room again until you find the missed Action – this  may entail you repeating one you have already carried out.

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Player Participation:   You have to ‘make’ the unlocking, lifting, moving, sliding actions yourself.  If you Pause the game you can ‘Use a clue’  to have Poirot make one action for you.  But it is very slow to recharge, and that one action may be in a long list of them.  If I were you, I’d resort to the Hint Link above.  I had it on my other computer, so was able to switch between them without having to come out of the game.  This saved a lot of frustration for me.  But I didn’t need it very much.  Once you get into the swing of the game, especially of rechecking things you’ve already done, the game moves more freely.  Otherwise it is slow moving.

Frustration Factors:   This is mostly caused by the slowness of the scene changes; the constant revisiting of completed actions; the refusal of the game to respond to clicking until you have done so many times – for example trying to make Japp speak in the Lobby towards the end (grit your teeth and persevere).  It’s great that Steam have a Demo for you to play prior to purchases – a thing they rarely seem to have – but after purchase of the game, you need to Start the game from the beginning, repeating thee first murder inquiry.

Satisfaction Factor:   Despite the frustrations of the Game-play; the slowness of the loading; and the stubborn Puzzle games, this is still an enjoyable experience.  It sticks quite closely to Agatha Christie’s novel, which is always a bonus.  If you have read it, or seen the David Suchet movie, then you will already know who the murderer is and how the plot unwinds.  But this doesn’t spoil the game at all.  It adds anticipation.

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I recommend this game to all Agatha Christie fans, and also to others who are into narrative Crime games.

Jud House 10/12/2014

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Posted in AGATHA CHRISTIE GAMES, CRIME & MYSTERY | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Hi CSI Fans.  I’ve been working hard to promote the reinstatement of the PC Disk versions of future CSI Games for quite a while.

I am not alone in not liking the Online CSI formats.   I just tried one on and you can’t even open up to full screen.  So you are trying to play in about 40x40cms of screen.  It’s ridiculous. And have you seen the format for CRIME CITY?  And HIDDEN CRIMES is another tablet/mobile game.  I asked if they could also release it after conversion to a PC format, for those of us who only play PC games.  But to no avail. There is just no comparison with the original PC format.  It’s as though the CSI producers only care about the up-coming tablet/mobile market, caring nothing for the loyal die-hard fans of the original Series.

I have had a couple of positive comments from Visitors to this judsgamereviews site, re the need to release a new original format PC Download/Disk game, but not the quantity of comments needed to give my stance backing.  I have a contact within Ubisoft, who was willing to help if I could rally enough Customer interest.

But while trying to find an Agatha Christie new game called THE ABC MURDERS – which I found on Steam – I discovered that Ubisoft no longer have ANY CSI GAMES in their Store’s sales list.  I was devastated.  I fear that is the end.  Unless Tell Tale Games have changed publisher/marketing firm.

It is sad.  The format of the CSI games was unique – except for CSI NY – and in its time novel, using 3D CG TV show characters, total interactivity in evidence collection and processing, and with 5 Cases per Game, the 5th being the culmination of the other 4.  I only hope we can get them Remastered some day.  Otherwise we will have to hold on to our older PCs in order to revisit them occasionally.  They are worth revisiting regularly.

I fear that the Agatha Christie games may be going the same way.  The format of this new game is a little different from the other formats.  The three big ones are similar to CSI in that you ‘walk’ Poirot through the locations; while the other four are Hidden Object format and fun in their own right, despite some of the HOs being really tiny.  But BigFish Games which had all of the latter four in their Sales List, have now removed them.  It seems that the Game providers are culling their lists, as new games are added, daily.  Even the HINT Service Sites are culling their lists, so you need to download for older games if you think you may need them later.

Sad.  Sad.  Sad.

Jud House 5/11/2016

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Story:  After centuries of war, you and the leader of the Sky Kingdom have pledged peace. What starts as a joyous occasion quickly turns dark when you’re framed for setting up the Sky King. With a new battle raging, can you find the real culprit before it’s too late?  Continuation of DARK REALM Series. (Big Fish Games Sales Blurb)

Options & Main Menu:   Both are clear and easy to use.  The Standard game lacks all the added EXTRAS of the Collector’s Edition, so the MM looks a little bare.

Music & Voices:  These are both good – the Music varies and is entirely suitable to the game.  The Voices are also really well matched to their characters, and so enhance the story.

Desktop:   Inventory fill two thirds of the bottom bar; all other controls are on the Right – Bow & various Arrows, Objectives, various Maps, Hint, and Menu.

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Tutorial:   This is efficient, and you can opt in or out via the Difficulty Modes.

Graphics:   Absolutely gorgeous.  Colourful, imaginative, intricately detailed in all aspects – settings, furnishings, characters, creatures, the works.  Good Graphics enhance the enjoyment of the game – bad Graphics are detrimental to the game satisfaction factor!

Play Modes:   Breeze; Zephyr; Gale; and Custom – the latter allows a fair degree of choice.

Map:  These change as you find them, move to a different location, are given new Maps.  They are all interactive, allowing you to jump from site to site within each location, and providing Active and Objective site info to assist your decisions.  The Map Info Key is in a drop-down window, which is great as it doesn’t take up too much Map-room.

HOPs:   These were very unusual.  I like that about Mad Head Games – they have tried to make the HOP experience as interesting as possible.  There are a few Interactive Lists, where you find some Items with the help of another Item.  But there are different types of Pairing – Runes, Patterns, Plants etc – and Multiple sites within a site.  Occasionally though there are some Items that are so hard to find.  This is a little frustrating, and if it interferes with the Game-Play then use Hint to find them.

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Puzzles:   These are also very diverse, interesting, unusual, clever, and mostly enjoyable.  Once again if the frustration level rises too far, use SKIP, so that you don’t lose the contact with the flow of the game.  I really like the Puzzle that allows you to steer the Blimp; and the Unblocking the Path Puzzle you use to activate and aim your Retrieving Bow & Arrow.

Game-play:   On the whole this flows well.  It is engrossing, keeping you wanting to move forward, and solve the problems.   You are given various short-term Items – like the Orb which you carry until you can recharge its Power from the King’s statue in order to defeat your enemy; the Seeing Stone you activate to look ahead at what is missing; the Stars you need to collect in three stages to unlock three compartments; and the various Arrow Heads you acquire to use for different tasks.

Player Participation:   This is high – you are required to make many of the actions yourself which is always a plus.  The Maps ease the amount of Pointing & Clicking needed, which saves on the wrist fatigue.

Satisfaction Factor:  This is really high.  To an experienced player, the story shifts and twists are fairly predictable, but that doesn’t affect the enjoyment at all.  It’s just that you are often ahead of the game mentally, while still resolving issues as they arise.  That in itself leads to a sense of satisfaction, and possibly smugness.

Frustration Factors:  The Dexterity required is occasionally a little high, but can be resolved with patience or the Skip button!

Bonus Game:  There is none in the Standard game, though you are left with no doubt at the end that there is more to come in the Bonus Chapter.

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I wish I’d bought the Collector’s Edition of this game.  I highly recommend it.

Jud House 31/10/2016

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