by GRAND MA STUDIOS; BIGFISH GAMES
FANTASTIC CRYSTAL/PORTAL GAME!
Story: For 25 years, you’ve thought you were an orphan. But one stormy night, a mysterious man steps out of a mirror in your home and claims to be your uncle. What’s more, he says your parents are still alive! The city they live in is under attack from a force that could threaten the entire world… and you’re the only one who can stop it. Do you have the courage to step into the mirror and face your destiny? Find out as you journey through a series of strange and beautiful worlds in this Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game! (BigFish Sales Blurb)
Desktop: Album, Crystal, Map, Guide (Left); Inventory (Centre); Hint/Skip, Owl helper, Bag for Final Potion Items (Right).
Main Menu: Apart from Options, More Games, More Info,, Extras, and Quit, the PLAY button opens up Main Story, Bonus Chapter, and Hidden Chapter. Almost from the outset you can see that you are going to get your money’s worth.
Options: Very good; has More Options button.
Tutorial: Really helpful without being annoying. You can opt out of course.
Play Modes: Casual; Advanced; Hard.
Map: Interactive, and mostly very helpful. Occasionally doesn’t show “!” on any site, but this is in the Bonus Chapter and only for a while.
Graphics: These are spectacular – real Fantasy colours, creatures, characters, settings, and artwork generally. Attention to details excellent, and visual clarity very good.
HOPs: Have a Match 3 alternative that you can switch back and forth between if you choose to or if you get stuck in one of them. The HOPs have Interactive Lists, which are relatively relaxed to search with a few exceptions per HOP, and even the Graphics for these are fairly clear.
Puzzles: Diverse, unusual, and vary from complex to Mini Puzzles. On the whole achievable, though right at the end I found the third level of the blocked maze type of puzzle was impossible. By then I was too tired to persevere. There is also one where the zoomed ‘window’ has an Object that needs its pieces found – these are all around outside the opened ‘window’ on the main screen, with a tally box set up beside it. It’s a bit confusing at first because it doesn’t quite make sense, but it works. The first is a Boot Puzzle, but there are a few more of these through the game. The 2 Main Final Potion Puzzles are quite difficult.
Collections: Leaves – transparent leaves, 4 per site/scene, which you need to find to unlock the Hidden Chapter, upon completion of the Bonus Chapter! If you haven’t found them all at the close of the game, don’t be alarmed. You click on Leaves in Bonus Content – this opens the Tree page adorned with the leaves you have found and those that you haven’t. Click on one that you haven’t found and it opens the scene so you can re-search it till you locate the missing Leaf/Leaves. Continue till you have them all. This unlocks the Jigsaw Puzzle that unlocks the Hidden Chapter – you click each leaf in turn to gain a jigsaw piece to place into the painting. So this game actually gives you quite a lot of Game-Play.
Game-play: This is quite diverse – not just straight seek and find with HOPs and Puzzles. It involves Portals that require activation by Picture Puzzles, the fragments of which you need to find scattered through the sites. The Crystal is then activated automatically when you click on each Portal Gate. Although there are four main Portals there are also others through which you can short-cut back to the main Portals site. Of course you can by-pass some of these by using the Interactive Map if you choose to.
Player Participation: This is full-on regardless whether you make use of the Interactive Map or not. It is a game that needs total Hands-on activity which is really good.
Satisfaction Factor: As the length of both Main Game and Bonus Chapter is substantial, the satisfaction derived from playing both is high. In both, the Story is complex, and integral to the Game-Play – at no time are you distanced from the story – it drives the play forward. A really gratifying experience graphically and narratively.
Frustration Factors: Minor Mouse Control when near the Inventory – it pops up when not required – but this is mainly a player fault rather than a game fault.
Extras: Achievements; Wallpapers; Concept Art; Music; Movies; Leaves;
Bonus Chapter: Quite long, and is a side issue occurring after the conclusion of the Main Story, in which you need to rescue your Owl helper as well as set the Owl world to rights. It has the same Game-Play, is interesting and cohesive. Very enjoyable.
Hidden Chapter: This is more of the same but as a mini problem that needs solving. Quite cool.
I highly recommend this game as a Collector’s Edition – there are so many extras to have. I bought it as soon as I could.
Jud House 10/07/2014
* * * * *