Category Archives: Hidden Object Games

Redemption Cemetery:Curse of The Raven (Collectors Edition)

As I said before I have already played this one through, but end of year assignments and exams got in the way of me writing about it, so I decided to play it through again, I have now just finished it again, even the extras, just so I can tell you in full detail HOW BLOODY AMAZING this HOG is!!

This is one of THE most detailed, well thought out and playable HOGs it has been my pleasure to spend quite a few hours playing. There are not one, not two, but THREE novellas to play, each novella is a decently sized HOG on its own, and together along with the bonus content they create an exceedingly well put together story arc that you want to see through to the end.

It also has one of the best in-game strategy guides that I have seen, so kudos to the developers for that, I needed a couple of hints in the last novella, where my brain failed me.

Backstory:

You are driving along a road, it is a rainy night, you have a car crash and when you wake up you are trapped inside a spooky cemetery with only a raven hopping around near you, the raven turns up throughout the three novellas, and usually has an object or clue that you need, so keep an eye out for him.

You go wandering through the cemetery to see how to get yourself out of there, and you come across two graves, a father and daughter who perished in a house fire, the father begs you to go back in time and save his daughter.

Novella one:

Rescuing the little girl from the fire, this first HOG is pretty decent HOG in its own right, there is just enough back and forth to make it interesting, but not too much to make it boring and tedious. The puzzles in this one are at a medium skill level and can be nutted out if you think laterally in a few places, there is nothing overly complicated or difficult to figure out and the actual HOG bits of this novella are excellently done, nicely detailed and only in some cases fiendishly hard to find, due to the sheer number of items within the scene.

Finishing this one and rescuing the little girl from the fire actually gives you a sense of accomplishment that is sometimes lacking in HOGs, there is more to this HOG than just looking for HOGs.

When you rescue the little girl the father rewards you by giving you the next graveyard plate, so it’s off through the graveyard looking for grave number two.

Novella two:

With this one you are confronted by the ghost of a woman who was murdered, she wants to know who the murderer was and if her young disabled son is being taken care of, you go through the portal and end up at the woman’s house, the puzzles in this are definitely a little harder than in the first novella, which is a logical progression, the actual HOGs in this one are of the same high quality as in the first, working your way through this one is somewhat more linear than the first, though there is still some back and forth, but not as much.

Solving this one involved for me some usage of the strategy guide, but only because it has one of the puzzles that I am not very good at and couldn’t finish without some help.

When you solve the puzzle of who murdered the woman you are transported back to the cemetery where the woman rewards you with the third grave plate, cue wandering through graveyard looking for third grave.

Novella three:

Third story is of a female Dr who was attacked and murdered on her way to bring life saving vaccine to her village, your job is to find out who murdered the Dr and retrieve the vaccine so that the villagers will live. This third part of the story arc is the most complicated, there are lots of little steps and lots of back and forth and some very complicated puzzles to solve, however that being said like the other two none of the puzzles are impossible and if you get stuck there is always the strategy guide which you can use to give you a push in the right direction.

This one is a very satisfying one to complete, since it is harder than the first two, there is a real sense of accomplishment about solving the mystery of who attacked the Dr and what happened to the vaccine.

When you solve this one you are taken to the opening screen and given the chance to complete the bonus HOG, I strongly suggest that you do.

Bonus HOG:

In this one after the cemetery gates are opened you get to go into the village, and from a newspaper on the ground you find that a young woman from the village is going to be burned at the stake for the murder of her fiancée and for witchcraft.

I wont spoil the ending for you, but suffice to say it is VERY worthwhile and definitely worth playing through, it ties the whole game together nicely.

Playability:

This is one of the best HOGs I have ever played, even better than Return to Ravenhearst and Puppetville: Souls of the Innocent,  the puzzles are intriguing without being too complicated, they are not insanely difficult, nor are they tedious.

9/10

Ease of the mini-games/puzzles:

As mentioned before the puzzles in this game get progressively harder as you progress through the novellas, but they are not impossible, nor are they boring.

10/10

Content:

There is nothing overtly scary about this game, even though it has ghosts and other things in it, it’s not very visceral, there’s a couple of scenes that have some mildly disturbing content, but even that is muted, so there is nothing to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities.

The graphics are well done, the HOG content nicely detailed and the background story is well thought out and put together.

9/10

Overall feel:

This is not a game for a beginner, I’d put this one at solidly seasoned player, or someone who wants to test themselves within the genre, overall this is an excellent game, well worth paying the extra for the Collectors edition, this game will be replayed many many time.

10/10

Overall Score:

An amazing 48/50 for this game for me, I would have given it 50/50 but I am sure that in the future there will be HOGs that will surpass even this one.

There is nothing in this game that will disappoint, the game play, the puzzles, the HO component, it is all excellent.


Review- SkyMist: The Lost Spirit Stones

I have just this very minute finished playing this game, so I shall review it while it is all still very fresh in my mind.

Backstory;

You are a friend of the Princess, unbeknownst to you evil Magician Brandolph has transformed himself into the Princesses new main squeeze, in the guise of Prince William, Brandolph tricks you into completing a magic spell that transforms the realm of SkyMist into a grotty decayed post apocalyptic urban landscape.

It is now your job, with the added cheer squad of Alice who pops in to give you encouraging gee-ups every so often, and the disguised Prince William who is doing his level best to turn the Princess against you, by telling the Princess that it’s all your fault that SkyMist is buggered, well technically it is, since you were the patsy that completed the spell, to return the hidden spirit stones to the three discs and then return each disc to the castle, completing the mini game therein.

  • playability

This is a moderately easy game to play, it’s easy to get into, the objects are sometimes very well hidden, and there are some parts of the searching that require you to complete tasks, which may not appear to be instantly intuitive, with a little bit of thinking you can complete all the tasks. If you get stuck there is an excellent walk through available on BigFish games.

This is a very large game, so you’re going to spend more than a few hours playing it, it’s a good game to play in small doses, unless you are like me and want to find out what happens, and if you just happen to like finishing things once you’ve started.

The graphics are very well done, it’s not overly childish or twee, which it could be, or very dark and dirty, which it also could be,  all in all this is a very well done game.

8/10

  • ease of mini games

None of the mini games are exactly onerous, there were a couple that I used the skip on, but that was due to my own inability to figure out how to do them, the three main end games for each of the completed spirit stone discs were somewhat harder, as it should be, than the mini games within the main game, and the last game on the last disc eluded me completely, but again that was due to my own inability to grasp how to do it, I am not good with arranging things in patterns and sequences.

There is lovely surprise once you finish the last game for the disc, and I wont spoil it for you, but suffice to say you need to be quick on the clicking.

8/10

  • overall feel

Overall, this is a very very good HOG, I’d say it was more suited to an intermediate player, rather than a beginner, some of the in-game puzzles are not intuitive and might frustrate a just starting out player, however it is a game that can be enjoyed more than once.

8/10

  • content

Nothing squicky or gross to see in this one, a definite G rated game.

8/10


Final Words:

I thoroughly enjoyed playing this one, I like a game that makes me think and uses the puzzles intelligently, the story is very linear with no backtracking, so that makes it so much easier to play, a game I think that most HOG players will definitely enjoy.

Total score 32/40


Review: Ancient Adventures – Gift of Zeus

I have finally finished this game, and I say finally because it seemed like it was going to be never-ending, more on that later, as I said before I was going to review games based on the following criteria:-

  • playability
  • ease of mini games
  • overall feel
  • content

I feel like I should institute a scoring system out of  ten for each category, along with some explanation as to why I am marking it so.

Back story;

These can be very important as sometimes they give you little clues as to what you are looking for or how the over all game will play out, the back story to this one is that some Evil Magician (we never see him) has stolen Thetis’ necklace, this necklace was from Zeus and Zeus will be pissed if the necklace isn’t returned, it’s your job to get the Pearls back that form the necklace, standard stuff, though also we find out that the Evil Magician has opened a portal to the underworld where the Titans have been trapped and plans to let them loose to kill all the Gods, and we can’t have that, so you have two jobs to do.

Along the way you also get to collect small pink gems, these gems make up various artifacts that will reduce the amount time your hint button takes to fill up, the amount of time the skip button takes to be usable and the amount of time your cursor will be unusable if you click randomly too many times.

playability

The screens were a bit TOO cartoony for my liking, I actually prefer more photo realistic presentations, it makes working out what is what a lot easier, that being said, this is a very very easy game to play, none of the searchable screens are incredibly difficult,  and the hint button doesn’t take a great deal of time to refill. This is an excellent game for a newcomer to HOGs to pick as their starting game, it doesn’t require any backtracking, the game process is linear and the storyline unfolds nicely.

6/10

Ease of mini games

These were actually not too bad, there were a couple that I used the skip button on, not because they were hard they were just taking a long time to complete, there was only one that I took one look at and then waited patiently for the skip button to fill, so out of the entire game that’s not too bad ratio for me.

7/10

Over all feel

As I said this is an excellent game for a newcomer to HOGs to play, for myself unfortunately I was so very bored by the time I finished it that it ruined what should have been a good experience, this game I feel was about three chapters too long, it seemed that I’d no sooner think that this was the last screen, when voila, another three locations appeared on the map screen, if they’d tightened the game play up, this could have been a really good game for all level of HOG players, as it is, I’d only recommend this to beginners as an ideal game, for everyone else, there are better games to be had.

6/10

content

Solidly G rated all the way, there is nothing offensive, scary or even the slightest bit off-putting in this game, it’s very cutesy and cartoony.

7/10

Overall score

26/40

This is not a bad game, it’s just overly long and a little bit simple and easy, which as I said makes it an ideal game for a newcomer to HOGs, as for anyone else, if you’re bored and just want a little bit of mindless easy HOG-ing, well there are worse games to pick.


Hidden Object Games

In between University and the very very infrequent bit of paid work, wasting time on FB and generally just procrastinating, I have a hobby, that hobby is playing Hidden Object Games (henceforth known as HOGs) the main source of my crack is http://www.bigfishgames.com

I love this site because you can download 1 hr demos of the games to let you see if you want to cough up the full amount, and if you belong to their club then you can get the full games for $9.99 which is a very reasonable amount especially for a game which you can replay time after time.

I have decided to do reviews of the HOGs that I have completed, these won’t be ones with walk-throughs and cheats/hints as most HOGs have walk-throughs and hints within the game, this will be a review about things like:-

  • playability
  • ease of mini games
  • overall feel
  • content

Some HOGs look very very pretty, but that prettiness is marred by a gameplay that is so complicated or boring that after a few chapters you feel like you just can’t be bothered to even keep on playing, sadly one such game like that was one I recently played, L. Frank Baum’s  The Wonderful Wizard Of OZ.

This would you think be an eminently suitable subject for a game, I mean we all know the story, so progressing through it would be easy, sadly no, this game was let down by two big things, the use of exceedingly small hidden objects within a vast overall picture and slow and clumsy game play.

Some HOGs have great main game playability, but are let down by their mini games; especially when you have to pass the mini game to collect a reward or a tool, if I find that I have to keep on using the SKIP button just to progress through the mini games, then that is also a negative factor. Worse still are the mini games that have NO skip button, and are so complicated that I feel like I am sitting an exam for entrance into Mensa, where I am required to indulge in some existential lateral thinking to solve the puzzle.

Now I fully admit that I am rather bad at some forms of mini games, ones where you have to shift the blocks around to make a picture, I have never been able to do those and I have no problem with using the SKIP button on those types, but when I find myself reaching for the SKIP button on every single mini game, then I know it’s not me that is the problem, but a game designer who thinks he/she is being very clever.

Thankfully those types of HOGs are very few and far between and they don’t last long in my games collection, the overall feel of the HOG is very important, are the games designers treating you like an idiot, is the game and the mini games so ludicrously easy that you can whiz through it in a couple of hours, there is no satisfaction in playing a game that treats you like a small child.

The other important thing is content, a lot of HOGs come from Europe and in particular countries from the former USSR, these HOGs tend to be a bit more visceral in content, and employ subject matter that is definitely NOT for everyone.

Two that spring to mind are Redrum: Dead Diary and Redrum: Time Lies, both of these are set within the confines of an Insane Asylum, with a very nasty protagonist who conducts horrible experiments on the inmates. So some of the pictures and mini games are rather disturbing, so those two games I would NOT recommend to someone who is just starting out with HOGs.

Some HOGs have components that involve a lot of backtracking, and completing assignments that have no value until much later into the game and to a newcomer this can be very off-putting, two of the most acclaimed and popular HOGs of late have done that, Return to Ravenhearst and Puppetville: Souls of The Innocents. These are both excellent games and among my very all time favourites, however I would hesitate in recommending them as the first HOG that
someone played.

I think the sheer complexity would put a lot of people off and make them think that all HOGs were like this, which is definitely not true, so I shall also be rating games based on whether they are beginner, medium or expert level.

I am in the middle of playing a HOG right now; Ancient Adventures: Gift of Zeus and I shall review it when I am finished, so I shall type at you then.