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Story:   [As a H.E.L.P. Operative] You’ve been called to China to help in the excavation of the ancient Emperor Qin’s final resting place. What starts as a simple mission quickly turns into the experience of a lifetime when your colleague’s lives are put in danger. Can you uncover the secrets of the Qin dynasty and save your friends before your time runs out? (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Options & Main Menu:   These are both good – Options are complex with many choices.  The MM is well arranged, with enticing, colourful graphics inviting you to press Play.

Music & Voice-Overs:  These are excellent, and extremely appropriate, though as usual I turned the Music down as I don’t want it to take over the playing experience.

Extras:   Play Puzzle, Play HOP, Collectibles, Play Bonus Chapter, Video, Pictures, Music, Souvenir Room.

Play Modes:   Explorer, Adventurer, H.E.L.P. Operative, Custom (with lots of choices, including turning OFF the Penalties).

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Desktop:   These have become quite complex lately in most games with multiple access often requiring all sides of the screen.
H.E.L.P. Box  (Achievements, Message, History) Fact Cards, Map, Guide, Menu (L); Inventory and Lists (C); Collectibles, Hints, and Morphing Objects in HOPs.

Tutorial:   Well worth using – I just used the Special Features Only option.

Graphics:   Delicious.  Vibrantly colourful.  Imaginative. Innovative.  Authentically Chinese.  Creative settings that make you feel you are really immersing yourself into and exploring Chinese locations.  They are a huge factor for the success of this game.  If only the Video Graphics weren’t fuzzy due to low Pixel count.

Map:   Interactive, fairly logical so easy to use once you’ve grasped their format.  Also informative and saves a lot of time and back & forth clicking.

HOPs:   Interactive.  There are not a huge number of these, but many of them are Multiples – sites where you find a few shaped items, then move to another part of the page, or zoom in, often more than once.  Each main HOP has a Morphing Object that you need to find – though upon completion of both games you can go to Play HOPs in Extras Menu, and find the missed Morphs as you replay each location.  There are also Story HOPs – the Fact Cards give you provide background stories of the Emperor’s rule and you find elements within them.

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Puzzles:   These are on the whole enjoyable and logical.  They usually serve a variety of purposes, e.g. to open a locked gate, to assist you on your way through the game.  But they can be Skipped, especially if they are of the few random-clicking kind.

Collections:   Dragons (40); Fact Cards.  These continue into Bonus Chapter.  Any missed ones can be found upon completion of the Main and Bonus games.   They then unlock the Souvenir Room, where  you revisit locations to find one more Item in each.

Game-play:   This flows well, driven by the story as it should be.  There are times when you think the game is drawing to a conclusion, but then of course there is another twist that sends you after the villain or accomplice again.  It is a bit predictable, but that’s okay.  And of course don’t be surprised to find yourself talking to the characters when you can’t make them do what you think they should be doing – this is just a great way to let off the Frustration Factor steam.  Some things need to be done in a certain order.  Though you might be able to see what should be done, you may not be able to do it until something else is found or opened first.  A bit FF.

Player Participation:   This is full on.  You are completely involved down to little details, opening things yourself, climbing walls, etc.

Frustration Factors:   Mainly caused by the odd Puzzle, by the need for some things to be done in a certain order, and by the low-quality graphics of the Movies.

Satisfaction Factor:  This is high – despite its predictability it is very satisfying reaching the end, though the culmination is over very quickly after your final battle puzzle.  I wish they wouldn’t do that.  The fact that the Bonus Chapter follows concluding it properly, doesn’t help someone who has only bought the Standard game.

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Bonus Game:   As mentioned, this concludes the game, once again predictably with the nuisance character from the main game.  (I’m trying not to cause a SPOILER here.)

I highly recommend this game.

Jud House 15/09/2016

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I want to let you know that I’ve just completed and re-purchase and re-play of all four MORTIMER BECKETT games on my Windows 10 computer.  I have already covered quite comprehensively the way these games appear and play on Windows 7 – see https://judsgamereviews.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/mini-reviews-mortimer-beckett/, https://judsgamereviews.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/mini-reviews-mortimer-beckett-the-crimson-thief-premium-edition/  – but thought it was time to see if they’d been updated at all.  Recently, BigFish have been advertising them on the W10 sales page – if they aren’t compatible, I’ve noticed that older games don’t appear in W10 while doing so in W7 on the same day.  The older games are substituted with newer games.

Graphics:    So, playing the first two games, SPOOKY MANSION and TIME PARADOX, on W10, the Graphics are a little fuzzy, but definitely not too unclear, nor any more annoying than before.  I was surprised that both these games actually played on W10, but I put that down to the possibility that they’d been Up-dated.  Both games play without any extra problems than those already discussed in my previous reviews.  The Graphics for LOST KING are fine, clear as before in W7.  I think it is the best of the games in many ways.  And of course the 3D CG characters are much improved, and very enjoyable as are their Voices.  But the Graphics for the latest game, CRIMSON THIEF, are less clear in places, though the characters are still good.

Game-play:     However, my main concern is that the Game-play in the latter two games has a speed glitch.  The Cursor Arrow, instead of pulsing at it points at Items or Exit-points, flashes at an incredible rate.  When you click on an Item it snatches and flies in a flash to its destination, whether that is into the Inventory or from the Inventory to its needed position.  While this is a little disturbing, distracting and disorientating, it can be coped with.  It certainly speeds the game up!  Until you get to the Mini-Games/Puzzles.

Puzzles:   Some of these play okay – just.  In LOST KING, you are just settling down to this weird Game-play action, when you are faced with three Puzzles, in which there are no SKIPS:
the Nut Beneath the Cups  which goes so fast that you can’t see which cup to choose, though, as you need to tackle this later when the Nut glows, you can at least complete this game;
the (TIMED) Mirror where the clock has been sped up so that you don’t have time to find all the Differences between the multiple Mirror images, so that you just can’t complete it;
the Concentration Deck of Cards where they flash so quickly face-up face-down that you can barely discern any of them at all.  If you manage to pick one Ace, you certainly can’t pick the other to make the Pair so you can complete the game.

So you cannot proceed any further in the game.  At all!!

In CRIMSON THIEF, this isn’t quite so noticeable, and with some games there were Skip buttons.  There were a couple that required selecting Items in a specific order:
Hitting Items in a shown order that flashed faster for each of 3 levels;
Copying Karate Moves where you had to snatch a flash of image to try to match Mortimer’s moves with those of the Master;
Picture Swapping Jigsaws had completely pixelled Graphics where the image was a series of tiny coloured boxes within the small boxes you needed to swap around.

I did however manage to complete this game, but it wasn’t very enjoyable due to the annoyance and frustration of the poor Game-play.

HOPs:   These played normally except for the swift flashing as Items sped from place to place.

I did try to reset LOST KING by using W10 Troubleshooting program, which allows you to reset an older game back to its earlier version Windows program (hopefully).  But when I finally found a way in to this facility, in its list of programs that needed modifying, the only action it would allow any of the games was Uninstallation – eg it has Uninstall Mortimer Beckett as its title, instead of just Mortimer Beckett.  I tried it – it uninstalled the game from my computer (surprise, surprise), so I reinstalled the game, resumed Play and found the Glitch in the Puzzles was still there (as expected).  So no help there I’m afraid.  if I should resolve this, or if BigFish are able to access a Patch for the game I will let you know.

So, do I still recommend this Series?  Yes if you play it on Windows 7 or XP.  I didn’t try it on Windows 8, and I guess it should play on that somewhere between W7 and W10.  I find it strange that the first two games played through normally (for them) while the later two games played so haphazardly.  I thought the first two might not play on W10 at all.

It’s up to you.  But I don’t recommend you buy them for W10.  If you play the Free Trial, make sure you do so till the end of the trial so you can see what I mean about the Puzzles.

 Jud House 6/8/2016

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Story:  Stranded In Time takes you on a fun and exciting adventure to explore a mystery out of this world! What seems to be a little weekend get-together with an old eccentric uncle turns into a fantastic journey through time and space.

Play as Olivia – a young sceptic woman from a big city. Join her Uncle Peter and writer Nick on an exploration of an abandoned church that hides a secret that is beyond any wild dream! Meet fun characters and solve tricky puzzles. Only you can find the key to an enigma that is older than history itself! (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Options & Main Menu:   Very Basic.  The game is not Wide-screen.  MM is clear graphically and easy to use as a result.

Music:  Can only Mute Sounds and Music, not turn them down, which is a shame – the music is fine but too loud.

Voice-Overs:  None – just lots of Dialogue windows.  Make sure you read all of them, though it can be a little tedious, as you need the info they give you.

Desktop:   Inventory Satchel, Journal (L); Hint, Menu (R)

Tutorial:  Gives windowed full Tute showing different Cursor formats at the Start – then you’re on your own.

Graphics:   Love these – like an early Sci-Fi animation.  Clear, colourful, uncluttered, imaginative, visually stimulating, without interfering atmospherics.  The clarity is crucial as some of the items, especially pieces of shattered crystals, are TINY, but you can still see them.  So for once I’m not complaining about HOs being  too small (even though they really are).

Map:   NONE – real handicap – I suggest you make notes as you go – not the kind that are in the Journal, but pics of the ‘Door Runes’ and what’s behind them for example.  It will just help keep you from wasting time going round and round, getting frustrated.

HOPs:   None.  This is a Classic Adventure game, where you search your environment looking for ways in and then ways out, picking up odd Items and solving Puzzles.

Puzzles:   Some of these were cool – but some of them were time-wasters.  If they were random, or didn’t resolve logically first try, I Skipped them.  You may be a Puzzle buff and have good wrists that can take lots of mindless clicking actions – you’ll like them then.

Game-play:   All of the above actions, plus you may need to resort to the Hint as you go, in lieu of a Map.  The Hint shows you a bubble window with the next place you need to be. That’s it – that’s all you get.  Also this game needs you to do things in a certain order – though of course you have no idea about this until you click on an Item and try to place it only to have it rejected.  Don’t fret, or think you’ve suddenly become a Dummy – you haven’t.  You have the right place for it – it’s just not needed there yet.  Relax into the rhythm of the game – it’s an earlier format, like the MYST Series, where you need to explore with very little guidance.

Player Participation:   Obviously high.

Frustration Factors:   The real bug-bear is the lack of a Map.  This causes quite a bit of B&F (back & forth) that usually tires me out.  Plus till you settle to the style of the game-play, a lot of clicking.  The continually having to open and close the Inventory Satchel, to access the Items for use, is quite annoying, and creates extra clicking, and frustration.  You also need to do this in order to Back out of a location, because the Cursor only activates at the very bottom of the screen, behind the opened Inventory bar.

Satisfaction Factor:   This is surprisingly good when you consider how on your own you are.  Graphically it’s an enjoyable environment, though you don’t realise at first that it’s going to be Sci-Fi.  In fact you pop back and forth between Reality and the Surreal.  The story is of medium length – certainly not a long game.  It also ends with the sense that there may be another game to come.

I really liked this game, and highly recommend it to those who don’t mind a Classic now and then.

Jud House 19/04/2016

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Story:  After inheriting a manor in England, you begin to explore the Kangale Estate and discover its history in Shiver: Poltergeist! Ricardo Chellini’s life is incredibly dull and full of repetitive tasks that leave him unfulfilled. One day, however, he receives a letter informing him that he’s the sole heir to an incredible manor in England. Travel with Ricardo to his new estate and discover its terrifying history in Shiver: Poltergeist, an incredible Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game! (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Options & Main Menu:   Both were okay – clear and user friendly, but minimal.

Music & Voice-Overs:   Both were very suitable, though I turned the Music down to quite low.

Desktop:   Hint, Journal, Menu (L); Inventory, Lists (C); Torch, Camera (R)  NO MAP!

Tutorial:   Quick, Efficient, and makes you take actions before it proceeds, but you can opt out at any time.  I would do so, except I need to make sure that there isn’t game-specific information that I will need.

Graphics:   These were disappointing due to their extremely drab, gloomy, atmospheric, colourless lack of visibility.  Such a shame as they were really well-devised and detailed for the setting of the narrative.  Even with my super new curved screen I couldn’t improve them much.

This is as colourful as it got.

Play Modes:   Casual; Advanced; Expert.

Map:  None.  This was a real handicap, as you were forced to remember which path led where and what was at the end of them that needed doing.  This is turn meant continually Pointing & Clicking and going Back & Forth – always a pain in the wrist.  It also caused continual use of the Hint to save making mistakes that in turn caused more P & C and B & F.  You could always make your own Map as you proceed, but unless you not the Items at each site on it, you will still have to remember what is where.

HOPs:   Interactive Lists, with atmospherically blurred Graphics, though some were improved by the use of the Torch.  It seemed that this could be used in any dark or gloomy sites, and of course were necessary in others which remained unusable until the shone the Torch.

Puzzles:   Most were simple, logical, and enjoyable.  Although information for them goes into the Journal which can be easily accessed, I recommend you make notes as you proceed.

Game-play:   Apart from those mentioned above, this game required the Player to go into ‘exploring mode’, searching every inch of each site, collecting Items, using Items, and playing HOPs for more Items.  Items weren’t assembled on the Inventory by the Player – rather they were automatically assembled once each were clicked.

Player Participation:   As you may have gathered, this is continual.

Satisfaction Factor:   By this stage you may be wondering why I bothered to buy this game, let alone finish playing it.  It’s because the story was intriguing – it held my interest, and made me want to see where it went and what happened.  Fortunately for me, this game actually finishes with a proper ending, followed by the lead-off into the Sequel or Collector’s Edition Bonus Game story.

Frustration Factors:   Mainly the gloom.  I hate peering at a screen, leaning in when I know that won’t help.  And the lack of colour was so depressing – colourless graphics don’t add anything to the story, as the world isn’t colourless.  The story drives the game – in this case really well – and the colour would have added even more.

I do recommend this game, but would suggest you trial it first.

Jud House 10/12/2014

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Story:  The twisted and evil Dr. Sigmund Fraud has been released from the asylum, and is up to his old tricks. Help Detective Ravenwood track him down and end his terrible crimes in Redrum – Time Lies. Dive into this Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game and free the souls of Dr. Fraud’s victims from their nightmares. Explore eerie nightmares and put an end to Dr. Fraud’s cruel experiments once and for all. Warning: Redrum – Time Lies is an intense psychological murder mystery intended for mature audiences. (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Options & Main Menu: Both are good, clear and user-friendly.

Music & Voice-Overs:   The music is well suited to the setting, but becomes irritating towards the end due to its repetitive nature – made me feel quite ill, and anxious, which of course is its purpose.  I wish I could have turned it right down easily, but to do so I would have had to return to the Menu losing the HOP I was currently working on.

Desktop:   Magnifying Glass (Hint), Menu (L); Lists for HOPS (C);Map, Inventory arrowed and numbered window holding one visible item stacked upon any others (R).  this means that there is more clear space in the main screen.

Tutorial:  Quick and efficient, though it makes you use Hint unless you decide to Skip Tutorial during the process.  Any experienced Player can do so easily as there are no real surprises.

Graphics:   Colourful, imaginative, and clear – a joy to play amongst despite the gruesome nature of some of the images.  Take the warning about Adult rating seriously – the images will give children nightmares.  Some of them are truly gruesome, not to mention gross and yujjo aka yukko aka yukky!  But they are so good, and even I was able to look at them in context and not shy away. I haven’t posted the worst images.

Play Modes:   Relaxed; Paranoid.

Map:   Once you have gained it this is interactive.  It shows your position, and rooms of victims, and those saved, but that is all.  The jumping facility saves a lot of travelling back & forth, though by doing so you sometimes find surprises that help your next move.

HOPs:   This is a HOP laden game which is very satisfying, especially with the clear Graphics, but they are not plain standard lists.  Those are interactive, some to the extreme – in other words each Item is used on the next and so on till the final one.  You need to match images from the bar to the site’s image, play mini-games, find multiples of an item, and more.  They begin simply at first but as the game progresses become more difficult which is challenging.

Puzzles:   These are quite unusual.  There are sliding, swapping, and normal jigsaws to complete to open the nightmares within each victim’s mind.  And as the game progresses they also change from very simple to very complex, requiring the same approach but far more time-consuming.

Collections:   Although there aren’t the usual kind of collections, you need to find a Magnifying Glass in each scene to add to the Hints available for your use.  If you have missed one, the ‘card’ will have a different sparkle to that of one not yet played – this lets you know to check it for a magnifier.

Game-play:   This game has a really unusual format which I found intriguing – it made me want to keep playing, and, in order to do that, buy the game.  As mentioned, it involves a lot of going back and forth, opening then entering mind-rooms, freeing ‘butterfly’ souls, gaining roses to trade for clock-dials to open more mind-doors.  The Hint will give a specific clue for each ‘room’ telling in which ‘room’ an item can be found, but not actually showing you what you must find in the ‘room’ you are in.  this is a little frustrating.  I came to a stand-still a couple of times and had to Exit the game and check the Game Walk-through in the Big Fish Sales page.

Tip:   Use the BRICK on the CRYSTAL to get the ROSE – the only item I didn’t hit the CRYSTAL with!  This game requires patience – you will find yourself trying to topple the bird-cage throughout the whole game, only to find that it’s only achieved prior to opening the last ‘room’ of the game.

Player Participation:   This is immersive, addictive, and continual.  Much pointing & clicking, back & forth game-play.  Rather tiring, but very hard to leave till the end.

Satisfaction Factor:   This is ambiguous.  It’s a great game, with cool if macabre story, clear colourful though hideously extreme at times Graphics, and an unusual, fun format.  However the ending is really annoying!  I don’t want to give it all away, but as usual it sets up for the next Sequel (it’s a Sequel itself).  And as you’re playing the last part you become aware that “Hey it can’t end yet!”  A little outrageous!

Frustration Factors:   Only the lack of more comprehensive Help from the Hint.  I suggest you open the Game Walk-through on your Desktop prior to starting play.  That way if you do have to come out to find the next step, you can do so quickly, then reopen the game and carry on.  It’s free to access on the Big Fish game-specific sales page.

I highly recommend this game despite the few negatives.  So good I didn’t put it on my Pile of Shame to wait its turn – I bought it and played it and blogged it immediately.

Jud House 5/04/2016

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