Object Hunt


The first Escape From Paradise was a great game. It had good puzzles to figure out, generic but addictive mini-games, and it had a lot of charm with the chibi-like characters with their big heads. All in all, it was a good “island survival” game that incorporated other casual game genres. Its sequel, however, was a major disappointment.

Maybe I just had my hopes up a little too high, or maybe it was dumbed down because the challenges were deemed too tough for the casual gamer; either way, the game feels like a series of chores. A series of chores with sub-par minigames to make up for the lack of riddles.

The entire game focuses on collecting jewels and tikis, and in order to do so, you need to:

  1. Lead your monkey all over the place looking for tiny 2×3 pixel jewels hidden in the grass and trees;
  2. Complete quests;
  3. Complete mini-games.
  4. Catch all the fish, dig up all the fossils, and catch all the birds.

There are multiple problems with this way of finishing a game.

  1. Those jewels are tiny. If you realized that you missed any AFTER you’ve done point 2 as well as 3, you’ll end up leading your monkey around the entire map looking for a few colored pixels.
  2. The quests are easy – there is no challenge in them at all. They come with clear directions and end up being just a series of chores.
  3. The mini-games range from match-3, hidden object, click-management…to sudoku. Name any one person who’s good at ALL of those. You’ll have to be, since there are no hints or extra powerups in sudoku or match-3. And they’re long games.
  4. Birds are VERY hard to catch.

On top of that, there’s the control scheme. You can either left click and drag a person to a spot, or you can left-click and right click. Sounds simple right? Now add to it that right click and dragging the map moves it, and once you select someone, you can’t access the map. So in order to move someone across the entire map, you’d end up doing a whole lot of dragging. The map is this tiny box at the bottom of the screen that can’t be enlarged, and has no significant markers. In other words, getting around is very frustrating.

Graphics and sound of this game is just as good as the last one, if not better. The core mechanics – hunger, thirst, sleep and social – stayed the same. Load times are minimal, and you can quit and autosave any time you like.

Escape From Paradise 2 isn’t necessarily a bad game. It’s still a fine casual game, but it seriously pales in comparison to the original. It’s just a bad sequel. It’s a step backwards. For $6.99, it’s a deal if you enjoy any of the mini-games.

If you are getting this game, I highly recommend getting the strategy guide with it. It is superbly written, with clear directions and great screenshots, even a map with all the locations. The only downside to the guide is that you can’t print things out.

Having played many, many hidden object games, I can say that they fall in the these few descriptive categories:

  1. Hastily thrown together with objects all over the place, sprites reused everywhere you look, and so easy you could finish each level in 30 seconds
  2. With actual hand drawn visuals, but with objects that doesn’t fit in well enough to suit the game
  3. Well drawn sprites, good background art, decent story, good length
  4. Superb (jaw-dropping) graphics, good story, good puzzles, good game mechanics, painfully short.

What I’m saying is that there is definitely a value to quality ratio, and you can’t have it all. Games that BFG produce themselves definitely fall into #3, with some replay value thrown in. Visions of Gold firmly stands as a contender for #4. It’s probably the only one of its kind I’ve seen so far.

The first time I booted up the game, all I can think of was – THIS IS A CASUAL GAME? The graphics reminded me most of playing a classic point and click with pre-rendered 3D backgrounds.

When it comes to production values, I haven’t seen anything like this in a casual game. Everything is rendered. The background water ripple. The skies move. The breeze drifting through the leaves actually look like wind, and not like someone’s holdinng onto the branch and shaking it up and down. Everything is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. The music, though repetitive, never got on my nerves – there is a choice to turn it down, but it does change itself to suit the environment wherever you happen to be. Visions of Gold is a stunner.

On top of that, VoG gives me one thing I’ve always wanted – a clean minimal heads-up display. There’s a menu button, the key object shortcuts in circles along the bottom, a hint button on the right, and when applicable, a skip button on the left. The beautiful backgrounds are presented in their full screen 1024 x 768 glory.

The core gameplay of VoG consist of finding a “key” object, clicking on it, then finding the objects associated with said key. You don’t need to know what you’re looking for, just how they look. Each level will have a number of key objects, and once you go through them you’re usually presented with a puzzle, be it a light switch puzzle, a jigsaw and so on, none of them being especially difficult. Coupled with a hint & puzzle skip system with no timer, it’s defitely suited to casual gamers.

I only got stuck a few times, and this was solved by moving my mouse all over the screen in a case of classic pixel-hunting. What for? Key objects. One’s usually not available until you finish the one before it, and the only way to find out is to see when your cursor changes to a hand. No help whatsoever by logic. You might get stuck, but for no more than a minute. Just click the hint button. This was a bit of a pet peeve – logical hints somewhat disappeared by the time you get to the old house, and I didn’t want to rely on the hint button.

VoG is almost perfect, BUT the game is painfully short if you know what you’re doing. If you’re stuck all the time and waiting for that hint button to fill up, this will take you a whole week to get through. If you find things pretty quickly and only rely on hints once in a while, you can get through it in two hours. Maybe less. VoG eschews the usual hidden object game’s lengthening mechanic – reusing scenes – instead lengthens the game by putting puzzles in-between scenes.

Some of the puzzles are so easy you could do them with one hand tied behind your back. And remember, there is always a hint button. And a skip button. The little backtracking that the game sometimes make you do take up very little time at all, while the story goes along like a straight arrow so you never end up back in your bedroom. I wish it did, for when the whole thing ended I was quite taken aback. That’s it? To be continued, it says, well, it better.

Is it worth it? Oh yes it is. Even if it is only 2 hours long for me. It’s well worth it. It’s well worth knowing that buying this game means that we keep this great game developer stay in business so they can bring us a sequel. Can we preorder?

I was quite enamored with the first Flood Light Games’ Agatha Christie game, Death on the Nile. To be frank, enamored wouldn’t be quite the word – I loved it. I’ve also played it too many times to be productive in my other endeavors. It was a seriously groundbreaking hidden object game. It had puzzles, it had adventure elements, it was detailed, well-drawn, and it was everything a hidden object game ought to be. I’ll also never forget that it came first.

Peril At End House is a bit of a mixed disappointment, in that regard. It does a lot of things right – 1024 x 768 resolution that runs smooth as silk, lovely classical style music in the background, unobtrusive sound effects, a puzzle in every room. However, it suffers from a lack of innovation. I guess the problem is mostly me (as will be for other gamers who has played the first game) and I’m expecting too much. Instead of getting something new, I’m getting more of the same. While this isn’t necessarily unwelcome, the time between the last game and this one led me to believe that there would be more.

This second Agatha Christie game from Floodlight games is very much like the first one. You start off with Poirot deciding that he will pursue the case, go through the rooms of each of the suspects, look for objects, find clues, and the mystery is linearly solved for you along the way. What differs the Agatha Christie games from the usual run-of-the-mill hidden object games is the attention to detail. Everything is crisp and clear, scenes are very well composed with most of the objects in plausible places.

Death on the Nile was a great game, and Peril at End House is, at the core, the same game. There aren’t any surprises – the quality is there and the puzzles are there. Instead of the old videos in between scenes, we now get a comic telling the story instead. The “saloon” where you can interview the suspects are now replaced by “CLUE” cards. “Interviews” are one-sided and really just a card in the page.

If you’ve played the first one, you will want to play this one. However, the rooms feel a lot less populated and I cannot help but feel that the game was rushed. Peril At End House should’ve been an “improvement” considering how successful the first game was, but instead of the boost in production values, there has been a cut. It’s still worth getting despite of it all; the scenes are still beautifully composed, and the story is still quality Agatha Christie.

Last time I made a walkthrough for the Agatha Christie game, I split it up in pieces, but this time I did thumbnails instead to make things a little easier. If I’m missing anything, just leave a comment and I’ll add it – this was done via one play through. If you have requests for MULTIPLE objects in a given scene, contact me.

P.S. I’ve also made a trainer for this game to stop the timer. (I don’t know how else I could’ve got through some of these levels) I’ll still need to test it some more, then I’ll release it.

Hotel Lobby – 5 keys in their boxes

Round 1 solution

Seaview Promenade – 5 Stones in Sand

Gate to End House – Spell END HOUSE

Gate to End House – 12 Pieces of Newspaper

Round 2 Solution

Parlor – 6 Papers in a Drawer

Seacliff Steps – 2 Stones in a Row

Round 3 Solution
( CORNWALLCOAST)

Freddie’s Room – 5 Tulips in a Vase

Foyer – 5 Pigs in a Row

Round 5 Solution

Round 6 Solution

Dining Room – 3 Teapots in order

Dining Room – Dismantled Radio

Round 7 Solution

Lounge – 6 Eggs on a Plate

Police Station – 3 helmets on a rack

Round 9 Solution

Beach – 6 Toys in a basket

Community Dock – 3 fishes on their hooks

Round 10 Solution

Ballroom – 5 Olives in Glass

Round 11 Solution (green, red, orange, yellow)
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Cliff Edge of Lawn – 6 Croquet Balls

Dining Room – 3 Monks in Row

 

  

One major complaint about most object hunting games from casual gamers is the lack of replayability. Granted, they have a point. Once you’ve seen a scene 5 or 6 times, you’ve basically memorized where most everything is. Lucky Clover got around this by having a lot of locations for a given object, and then randomizing. Lucky Clover boasts 270 locations and 75 levels – much, much more than your usual object hunting game. Then again, it isn’t your usual object hunting game. It is much, much less.

The core game of Lucky Clover involves finding multiple lucky charms in each location. Each level might be just one location or a few, and you’re looking for charms. These charms are shapes that are hidden in the photographic locations, and depending on your chosen difficulty level, can be either obviously visible or very faint outlined shapes. I played this on medium, and it can sometimes be pretty hard to find the charms. Each time you find a charm, points will be added to your pot of gold. Using hints cost you gold, and gold ticks down (time is money) as you play the level. This is a pretty novel idea and I rather like it. Problem is, that’s all about all there is to this game.

There is a pretense of a mini-game, and it’s rather like finding bunnies in magicians’ hats. You get to pick a prize semi-randomly at the end of each level, and the prizes are collected and displayed on your prize screen. It’s not much of a mini-game; it requires one click. Then you’re off to look for charms again.

Lucky Clover boasts 270 locations. This is technically true. There are 270 locations. However, these locations are photographic, and they consist mostly of ruined castles (stone), a lot of fields (green), and a big patch of sky. Pretty much every one of them looks like that. They’ll also have cartoon mythical characters drawn on top of them, and while they fit the theme of the game, each one of them stands out like a sore thumb compared to the photographic backgrounds. So while there are 270 locations, it feels more like 10. Hey look, here’s another view of a ruined castle!

While some object hunting fans may enjoy the challenge of being able to hunt for semi-transparent shapes amongst yet another green hedge, I found this one addictive for an hour and then got extremely boring. It’s the monotony of it all – look for more shapes in more brown/orange stone and grass. Rinse and repeat. Our Leprechaun relieves the boredom by spouting a joke every time you start a map, and the music is fitting to the whole Irish theme, but it’s not much more than a twitch game of hide and seek.

Lucky Clover saves mid-level, and is technically a Minute Game. It loads and closes on a dime, and is also alt-tab friendly. It takes 3 clicks to exit the game – 2 more than necessary. Once you start, you can’t stop … but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the impending monotony.

You might wonder why it took me so long – I’ve written trainers for various games for kicks, and here’s my favorite hidden object game that doesn’t have a relax mode. This one’s always giving me heart palpitations. I just never thought of it before. Actually, it wasn’t my idea. It’s a commenter’s. So I loaded up the game again and wrote one…it only took 10 minutes, and another 20 minutes letting the time run down to test it. Here it is:

Agatha Christie – Death on the Nile Time Stopper.

I’ve tested it on both (oh it makes me giddy to type that) of my computers running the same version of the game. It’s the one from Reflexive, and it should work on the same game you download from other portals. All you have to do is load up the game, load up the file, unzip it, run it, and click on “stop time.” It doesn’t matter if the game is full-screen or windowed, it should work. After getting emails all the time about my trainers, here’s a run down.

What the trainer will do:

  • It will stop the timer in Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile.

What the trainer will not do:

  • It will not let you play the game for free by stopping the evaluation timer. That’s NOT what a game trainer is for.
  • It will not stop the game from penalizing you if you make random clicks – that would be too easy now, wouldn’t it?
  • It is not a Trojan. I just tested it with Avast! and it cleared, but AVG might give a false positive because it does go into memory, fetches a value from the game, and changes it.
  • It is also not a Trojan because I’m a bit of a hack when it comes to these things and the only thing I know how to do are change $ values in games and stopping timers. 🙂

I’ve also only tested it on one version of the game, and since casual games rarely display their version numbers on startup screens, I have no idea which one it is. I have re-downloaded it from Reflexive to make sure I have the latest version, so any version you download as of now should work.

Users @ PlayFirst Forums mentioning Dream Day First home, nn Beta and coming your way. They also mentioned the other Oberon game Peril At End House being in beta.

Death on the Nile is still my favorite hidden object game (yes, even more so than Madame Fate – I like my games bright) and a sequel is always welcome. As for Dream Day First home – I wasn’t too impressed with the Dream Day franchise aside from the randomized object locations, but the fans will likely snap it up the moment it comes out. Both are from Oberon Games.

This is about a month old, so it’s not really new news. A riddle based building game – sounds interesting.

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