SECRETS OF THE DARK – MYSTERY OF THE ANCESTRAL ESTATE Collector’s Edition


by ORNEON GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

Jud’s Game Rating:

Graphics **** Player participation (PP) ***** Satisfaction Factor (SF) ****

Frustration Factor (FF) * Fair Play (FP) **** Tedium Factor (TF) *

WOW!

You will have to challenge yourself as a professional who specializes in most tangled cases and defeat the darkness to rescue an innocent soul.   Earlier you’ve already had a chance to investigate strange cases in ancient Thai and Mexico. Now it’s time visit the Mediterranean coast and  reveal the secret of an ancient family estate which was inherited by a young woman who is now begging you for help. Her life hangs in the balance  and her fate is up to your strength and courage. (BigFish Sales Blurb)

This game has the a good Options with Regular/Advanced/Hardcore Difficulty Modes to choose from.  The Music is suitably atmospheric and sinister, but, as with most games, is better if turned down so it’s less intrusive.  The opening Graphics are gorgeous and set the tone of the game, but are less clear in the game itself and particularly in the Hidden Object sites.  The Artwork and Design is excellent, well-imagined, well-planned, clever, with touched of brilliance.  Shame some of them lack pristine clarity.  As there is no Map, the game-play entails a huge amount of backtracking pointing-and-clicking which can become physically tiresome.  I guess I’ve become spoilt by the great interactive maps in most new games that allow me to jump from site to site.

However I really like this game.  The storyline is interesting, engaging, sinister (as I mentioned) and integral to the game-play.  You become involved, the Items you find strewn throughout the sites, plus those you gain from the HO sites, are specifically to be used on the task in hand and those to come.  These tasks are added continuously so at no time are there none in hand.  You often have Items in your Inventory that you can’t find a use for – don’t worry, just accept that these are for something yet to be revealed.

The HO sites have extra dimensions to them – you have the usual lists; plus those that include interaction between Items to reveal them; plus Items instead of Lists to be replaced into the HO Site.  There are parts of Items to find scattered throughout the various locations – which are unlocked by the location of secret doors, or finding and using various keys on locked gates.  Some of the Puzzles are tricky, and some take a long time to solve – but if you get tired of trying you can Skip easily.  Most of them are cool, intricate, puzzling as they should be calling for logical deduction skills.  I skipped a few when they became tedious, but others I persevered with which was satisfying.

There are Banshees to overcome – once you learn what to do for the first one it’s easier to take care of the rest, though ever reliant on you locating the right Items at the right time.  That’s another thing – there seems to be the right time to do things in this game – though you may deduce what to do with an Item, quite often the spot to use it on has not been activated yet (not a hot spot).  But the game-play flows relatively smoothly, so it becomes engrossing and enjoyable.  It’s the kind of play where you should go off to bed, but just want to use this Item as you know where it goes – you might forget by morning!  Of course this results in some very late nights.  It’s addictive.

There is another really good trick used in this game – there is a ‘light change’.  You click on a pulsating light source and it changes the room from dark to light, from evil to good, and back again whenever you need to look for Items or solve Puzzles.  For example, you can open a cupboard in the dark and change to the light to find what’s in it, and vice versa.  This is really cool!  The story leads you in Chapters/Levels, each culminating with the placement of a special globe.  However it is a subtle step – you make a mental note of it as you move on.

I highly recommend this game.  I bought it immediately and have yet to play the Bonus Game, but I had to go to bed some time last night!

Jud House  9/04/2013

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About judsartwork

I write reviews of Adventure and Hidden Object games that are Crime, Fantasy, SciFi, Renovation, Travel, Quest and/or Mystery by genre. I have a Masters in Writing (2006) and have been writing novels, both crime and fantasy for many years; plus Haiku, verse, and prose both fictional and literary. I am also an artist of modern, Acrylic, textural and hard edge work, underwater, fantasy, expressionist, and Cosmos paintings. I use mixed media (Acrylic, Watercolour, Pastels) in textural Monoprints, finding surprises to expose within each work. Having both an analytical and creative mind has meant that I have strong powers of observation, and the persistence required to follow computer problems through till I solve them. Of course I am not always successful, but am willing to ask for a little help in order to then unlock the main problem myself. My Troubleshooting Blog, 'Problems and Solutions', was the result of my tenacity.
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