by PLAYFIRST GAMES; WADJET EYE GAMES; STEAM
City of Oz Investigation!
Story: Acting for Petra, guide her through her quest to find her missing brother, who disappeared as a child during Oz’s defence against the Phanfasm army. As a Private Detective, Petra takes on tasks for clients she encounters during her quest, while exploring Emerald City, Winkie and Quadling Countries, and inevitably Phanfasm Island.
Options & Main Menu: Both are clear, easy to use, and sufficient.
Music: These are both fine, but turn down the Music as it can be intrusive and overpowering. You may need to adjust the Sound Effects as well.
Voice-Overs: These are rather aggressive and confronting initially. until you realise that the story is set in the old Hollywood Gangster style. There are more softly spoken characters which is a relief, and you settle into the style after a while. There is a lot of humour in the Dialogues, especially if you continue to visit sites and replay dialogue.
Desktop: Pause (Left); Inventory (Left/Centre); Tasks Panel (Centre); Spells (Right /Centre); Notebook which includes Hints (Right). The arch of coloured gems above the Tasks bar accumulate as you complete each task.
Tutorial: This is given during the opening scenes or as you encounter something new. It is quick, efficient, and not too intrusive. You can also check for assistance in your Notebook, which is more use to you than you first realise.
Graphics: These are excellent. By the nature of the comic book/drawn animation style, these are colourful, and clear. There are no intrusive hazy visual elements to contend with, so any problems you encounter are not due to visual tricks. Refreshing.
Map: There is a main Map by the North Gate which shows the Emerald City, surrounded by Gillikin, Munchkin, Winkie and Quadling countries, showing the different colours that represent them. It is important to look. But your user Map opens when you click on a Gump Stand – that is the taxi mode for Oz. The active areas light as you mouse-over them – they become active as you are instructed to visit them, then remain active till the game ends. You cannot jump from one site to another within locations though, and can only access the map by returning to a Gump Stand. There is no shortcut.
Game-play: This game is wholly interactive and deductive – a real Investigation game, with no HOPS or PUZZLES. Rather there are problems that you need to solve, using your Inventory Items and Spells cleverly, as needed. You have to use your solving skills all the time, think logically, and laterally, in order to outwit those against you.
You are required to continually move back and forth between scenes, picking up a few items, but mainly gaining them from clients. You must click on red, green, or yellow sparkles in each scene to collect buttons for Scraps – the quilted lady who runs the Florist shop next door to Petra’s apartment. Petra must ask all the questions of each character, and check Dialogues every time she encounters them. This way you gain needed info and the occasional item – either magic or non-magic. The Dialogue boxes are as much a part of the game-play as the actual moving around and using of items.
You need to visit the University several times and ask the Knowledge Machine for Knowledge Pills about all People and Places names in the list – this will then lead to one more Separate Item being added to the list. Swallow all of them, except a couple that you need to take outside. Tip: Only take these once you have collected the candy – figure it out.
You will find that you need to revisit sites several times, continually asking questions and taking actions, a little tediously, to gain extra info and till all is done. When at a loss, open the Notebook and click on Hint. It will supply one Hint per click until you know what to do next or have all specific info needed, whichever comes first. Towards the end, when my brain was fatigued, I had to resort to using the Hint, and also the Walkthrough, in order to continue without adding more fatigue. Young people may fair much better. 😀
Player Participation: Obviously heaps!! To the point of physical fatigue! But Pause works well if you need a break, and it’s easy to step straight back in again when you’re ready. 😀
Satisfaction Factor: Actually this game is very satisfying. It really is a Quest game. The game is totally story-driven, with 50 scenes to play your way through, and many characters to encounter – Tinman, Lion and Scarecrow are there, as are the other Witches and the Wizard of OZ. But the story has a real twist to it, and an aggressive mode which you adjust to as you play, until it feels normal for the story at hand.
Frustration Factors: I had to play this game on my Mac as that was the only version that Big Fish had at the time of purchase. Although they still have the Walkthrough:
this is only available via Google – there is no longer any access via the Big Fish Sales site.
You can access it via PLAYFIRST Games, and STEAM.
I highly recommend this game to those who really like to carry out a Quest without the intervening HOP factor that really does slow down the game-flow.
Jud House 1/11/2017
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