by GrandMA GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES
Story: You’ve been called to the riverside town of Ridleton to investigate a series of missing persons. Strange storms have been sweeping through the town, and with each appearance… comes a disappearance. Who’s behind the unnatural weather, and how are they choosing their victims? To find out, you’ll need the help of a tough-as-nails Huntress and a well-trained red panda. But you’ll all have to work fast… There’s a storm brewing in this exciting Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game! (Big Fish Sales Blurb)
Options & Main Menu: Good simple Options. Main Menu and Loading Graphics a real treat. MM is really well laid out, and you can access the Bonus Chapter and Hidden Chapter via the PLAY button, once you have completed the Main Story and collected all the Flames.
Music & Voice-Overs: These are all excellent, adding extra dimensions to the story, along with the Sound Effects of course, which are also well devised.
Extras: Achievements; Wallpapers; Concept Art; Music; Movies; Flames – this final Button/Link lets you access the wall of Flames collected throughout the Main Story and Bonus Chapter, where you can click on the unlit torches to enter the scenes in order to find and collect any missing flames. You then complete the Flame painting by swapping discs around to unlock the Hidden Chapter.
Desktop: Album, Menu, Strategy Guide (Left); Inventory (centre); Red Panda (helper), Map, Hints (Right).
Tutorial: This is really good, informative and efficient. Even though I rarely need it, I always use it, not only because I need to see how it functions to report it in these Reviews, but in case there are any distinct differences from other games. Game-Play is generally similar among all these HOP games, but every now and then an unexpected innovation takes a game to new levels and you don’t want to get to the end of a game and find you needed to collect something specific, or find yourself scratching your head as you try to work out why the HOPs or Puzzles aren’t following the usual pattern. My advice is to always check out the Tutorial – you may learn something.
Graphics: OMG! these Graphics are seriously gorgeous! The Loading Page, the Main menu, the Extras Menu, and the actual Game Graphics are gloriously colourful, sumptuous, brilliant in every aspect – creatures, settings, costumes, characters, atmospherics, magical manifestations, flora and fauna, the lot! So impressive. I just wanted to wallow in them, to play on and on and on – so much so that I found myself going Back & Forth through the scenes rather than jumping via the Map – though of course I did a fair bit of that as well. 😀
Play Modes: Casual; Advances; Hard Core.
Map: Interactive. This is really good, well designed, could be just a little more explicit with its indicators/markers. If there are none showing then you need to check in your Inventory as there is probably an Item that needs repairing/an addition/mainpulating so that you can then use it in a scene. You gain several Mini-Maps during the game, that are part Puzzles, and needed to take you to the next main location.
HOPs: These are really diverse, and have a MATCH 3 Alternative. There are the main Interactive Lists; Shapes/ Silhouettes; Story HOPs where you need to find 3 x 3 Items hidden in the illustrations of the story on it’s pages – these are really hard to find at times so persevere and search carefully. I don’t think you can get a Hint for these and if you Skip it I think it may Skip that whole story segment as well. There are also zoom-window Mini-HOPs that require you to find the missing pieces scattered around ‘in the air’. At first this is confusing as it asks you to find the missing parts and reassemble the Item, but you can’t see any lying around when you back out to find them. You have to remain IN the zoom window and collect the parts from outside the zoom window. Kind of weird.
Puzzles: These are diverse and many. There are more Puzzles than HOPs. Most of them are interesting, vary in length and difficulty, relatively enjoyable dependent upon their logic content. I Skipped a few – there was one in particular that required absolute hand/mouse control. It didn’t require speed as well, but it is still impossible to do if your hands are shaky. This is a shame as it was a good puzzle – the designers need to make sure that at all times they do not inadvertently discriminate against the less physically able players.
Collections: Flames – 4 per scene – they sparkle/glimmer to show where they are. Click o them and they flare up and are marked off on the pop-out window.
Game-play: On the whole the Game-play follows the usual HOP pattern, but with little twists that are diverting and fun. The Story drives the game, and is kept in the forefront all the time which is great – you have a reason for everything you do in the game. It follows a logical path, with the Mini-Maps taking you to the next stage each time. At the new locations confusion can occur as you may have very little or nothing in your Inventory and have to scout around to find Items to help you progress. Make sure you check over all the scene/screen as you can easily miss a key area that leads to a HOP, or the relevant item.
Player Participation: The game is quite Hands-On – you undo bolts to remove faucets/taps, then move them to the new location, place them on, then do up the bolts, step by step. PP is high as a result of this type of play.
Satisfaction Factor: All three games are very satisfying indeed – the Bonus Chapter resolves an issue that arises from the completed, yet somehow not quite resolved, Main Story. The Hidden Chapter is a neat little addition, taxes you a little further, is all played in the one scene, which makes you wonder where you can get what you need when everything you open needs something! Enjoy it!
Frustration Factors: Really the only things that frustrated me were the few Puzzles that were either random clicking, or required really steady hands. Get rid of these or make them more user friendly.
Bonus Game: As mentioned, this resolves an issue that arises from the completed, yet somehow not quite resolved, Main Story. As expected, it has similar Game-play as the Main Story, with less HOPs and quite a few more Puzzles to tackle.
I highly recommend this game, and bought it immediately with 2 Game Credits.
Jud House 10/12/2014
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