When you open up The Haunting of Majesty Manor (GH:HMM), the first thing you’d notice is the load time. Mine clocked in at around 35 seconds, skipping the logos. Us casual gamers are an impatient bunch, aren’t we? There is a reason why most casual games runs at 800 x 600 resolution: with all the objects lying about, there’s only so much memory in a mid to low range computer to handle it with. GH:HMM runs full-screen at 1024 x 768 and it just stretches the limit just that little bit: my mouse dragged a little when I first loaded it up, ever so often the timer would slow down and speed up again. No biggie with the trade-in for good graphics.

Object hunting games are becoming the “dime a dozen” games of the year: every time you turn around there’s a new one. Sadly, GH:HMM doesn’t do anything different than what we’ve already seen, with no mini-games – not even ones that are related to the genre, and no new game mechanics to speak of. Aside from the clean graphics, it really reminds me most of Abra Academy, and that is not a good thing.

The objects in GH:HMM are mostly scattered, and some very cleverly hidden. They’re not impossible to find, but it only took me an average of 10 minutes to finish each level. 15 levels at 10 minutes is an hour and a half. That’s hardly sporting is it? There are two problems with the compositions in GH:HMM – one, not enough white-space. There is stuff literally everywhere, so there isn’t a good balance of “white” space to trick the gamer into not looking there, and surprising us with shapes. Second, there are not many, if any, drop shadows on anything. So the effect is that of a collage with magazine clippings. It is not pleasing to look at.

There is also a lack of multiple objects (you know, good old 12 pieces of letter, or 5 hammers, or five “5”s) to look for, and a lack of wordplay. Wordplay is part of what makes a game like this fun, and it was just nonexistent.

I also ran into a bug where an object list was loaded up for two locations out of three in one mission where none of the objects were present in the locations. That’s really, really bad. I have never ran across this problem in other games before, but this almost made me stop playing. Maybe it was a freak accident that only happens to select gamers, but it happened to me.

About the only saving grace of GH:HMM is the hint system. It’s a little dark stick that has lights on it, and when you move it closer to the hint object, it beeps quicker and there will be more lights lit up. It’s not a novel concept, but it works very well. There is also a “bonus” feature where it leaves out a couple of objects in each location and you can choose to find those for “bonus” points, but those points are really only going to be good for bragging rights.

The sounds in GH:HMM are passable. Sometimes I heard random beeps, which makes zero sense, and random glass breaking, which is nice in a haunting. The music is eerie yet somewhat annoying, and you can never completely turn it ALL the way down.

I wouldn’t recommend GH:HMM to anyone, from seasoned object hunters to newcomers to the genre. Unless you’re really, really bored, or addicted to the genre and must play something you haven’t seen before, I say don’t bother. Just pull out your copy of the first Mystery Case Files and play that again. Go ahead and download it – but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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