Object hunting games, once scarce (remember when we were all just waiting for the next MCF to come out after Huntsville?) is now becoming the most popular and most numerous genre. There’s easily a new one everyday. It has to be something truly special to stand out from the crowd; Stone of Destiny is just special enough to stand out. It may not be as good as some we’ve played lately, but it’s definitely worth the download. 20 megabytes? Since when was a object hunting game 20 megabytes?

One thing that would strike you very quickly in Stone of Destiny is the load time, or the lack thereof. As we get more and more used to the “now loading” screen in these games with sharp, clean, high resolution graphics, Stone of Destiny serves as a shining example of efficiency – it manages to have sharp images, beautiful particle effects, 3D real time hardware accelerated graphics, and zero load time. From the very first minute you load up the game, to the very end (sadly, it doesn’t take all that long,) there is never an unintentional lag of the mouse or an overly long pause as the game loads up the screens.

Story lines in games like these are often secondary. This is no exception. You can easily skip all the story sequences, and the locations doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the story as each mission sends you to three to four locations all over the world. It is a well told Indiana-Jones-esque story that is worth reading, illustrated in a comic book style.

The locations in Stone of Destiny seems to be real photographs that have high contrast, and objects overlay on top of them sometimes in a well-hidden fashion, and sometimes simply strewn about. There are enough objects that are well hidden and drawn into the walls and background objects that it never gets too easy, but the timer never really challenged me – there was always plenty of time left over – and when I really got stuck, the timed hints came in handy.

I don’t usually like mini-games in object hunting games – usually they’re just derivatives of old puzzles, and have nothing to do with the genre. Unfortunately, Stone of Destiny doesn’t really excel in this area. There’s the Towers of Hanoi, with the occasional Traffic Jam clone, and this “draw a symbol” game that doesn’t feel so much like a puzzle as work. The only mini-game I enjoyed was one where you had to move a group of crystals into a configuration where the light beams that they produce don’t crisscross one another.

Maybe it’s the lack of load times, or the well done crisp graphics, but this game ended much too quickly for me. It didn’t take me long to get to the point where the story reaches mid-point, and after that it seemed a mere hour before I hit the final puzzle. On the other hand, since the only way to revisit any of these locations was to restart the game, this didn’t feel like such a bad thing. There is also no record of scores, best times, or even extra collectibles, so there didn’t feel like there is a need to replay the game.

Stone of Destiny is a well-rounded object hunting game with a few damning flaws that could be easily fixed – better grouped locations for each mission, the ability to record your best times and perhaps uploaded to a leader board – but comes off as a well polished, sharp looking game nevertheless. It is definitely a minute game; the game auto-saves on a dime, quits on a dime, starts on a dime like a well-oiled machine. Well worth the download. Try it – if you hit the second part of the storyline (it’s pretty obvious) by the time the trial is over, just remember that the end is not far.

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