Margrave: The Blacksmith's Daughter
I thought I had the CE of this one, but alas, not yet!
This is one of only three games (that I've played) that has someone singing a song during the opening scene, the other two being Margrave 3: The Curse of the Severed Heart
and Charlaine Harris: Dying for Daylight
This is the fourth installment of the Margrave-themed series, as I'm sure you've guessed from the fact that the number "4" is in the title of this thread
Number 1, The Secret of Margrave Manor
, was a straight HOG, which I didn't play. Next was Margrave Manor 2: Lost Ship
, an IHOG-lite which is VERY heavy on the HOG scenes. I bought it and played it through because I enjoyed the story. For me it was a play-once game, and simply because I liked the story. Margrave: The Curse of the Severed Heart was simply wonderful, and this one definitely lives up to the #3.
There are separate sliders for sound and music, plus options for full-screen, maintaining aspect ratio, custom cursor, and the ability to turn the voice overs on or off. If you uncheck the aspect ratio option, the game plays beautifully in wide-screen mode. There are two difficulty modes to choose from, and the tutorial is optional.
When the game came out, I saw a lot of posts from people who did not care for the cyclops theme, but it was easy (for me) to see past the oddness of idea and enjoy the game. These are not the type of cyclopes that I grew up seeing -- like the gigantic brute in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
. The version the devs chose for this game are just like humans, they simply have one eye instead of two. There IS a point to the devs' choice to use cyclopes in their games, which you will discover if you read all of the papers that we find during gameplay.
Speaking of these tidbits of story, I must warn you that though this is, in general, not a dark game, some of the things we read about (which happened in the far distant past) are quite gruesome. The cruelty of humanity is a difficult thing to face, and though these are not about real events, such atrocities have certainly peppered the past of our race.
Moving on, this is a beautiful game with excellent gameplay and an interesting story. I chose to go with Casual mode, and despite doing so, I did not suffer from an abundance of hand-holding or sparklies!
One of the first puzzles we do is a bit on the lame side, but not to worry! This particular mini only shows up once more during the game~
We have a return of the card game-mini we played during the last game, but this time there are two parts to it. The objective of the card game is to match up the symbols on the sides of the cards to create the shapes shown at the top of the screen (this will be more clear when you actually play the game.) The second part is a tracking/matching game with stones, rather reminiscent of the old find-the-pea shell game, but you have to track two things at once. Definitely challenging, but doable! These aren't the only mini-games, of course, I just mention them because we saw them in the last game.
We have two inventory bars that we can switch between: One for "keepsakes", which is both clues and story tidbits that we have found, and the other is our actual inventory with items we will use during gameplay. There are five mini-slots at the top of the inventory bar for things quick access to things we will need multiple times. Nice, because we don't have to search through our inventory to find them this way! Two of these slots are for creatures that will help us through during our journey. No worries, those of you who are tired of cutesy helpers -- the focus is on their helpfulness, not how they look.
There's a side quest of finding 60 strawberries during gameplay, and doing so will unlock a book on the menu page. What's in this book, I don't know, since I got so caught up with playing the game that I forgot to find them all!
The voice overs are well-done, and continue throughout the game. You can't stop the voice overs by clicking on the screen, but if you don't like them, you can turn them off via the main menu.
Something that I LOVE about this game is that there is an explanation for items being scattered about (during HOG scenes.) The main character gets aggravated by delays, she addresses all of the little things that players often complain about when playing these games, and I think it's just great that the devs added that in there!
There is a MAP, but there is no jump-to option. There are two parts to the map, and you're likely better off with the second tab, which is easier to read than the main map. Later on there will be shortcuts that GREATLY reduce travel time, and these are nicely integrated into the gameplay in a believable way. It WILL show you active areas (where actions need to be taken.) The HINTS, when used during the adventure portion of the game, will remind you of things that you have seen, or simply tell you exactly what you need to do. I'd have preferred a directional arrow, so when I was unsure what to do, instead of using a hint, I'd look at the map to see where the active areas were. Much better option for me, personally.
The end of the game left us with an opening to the next game in the series... or so I thought, until I remembered that there is a Collector's Edition of this game! I'm betting that little thing I saw leads us to the Bonus Chapter, rather than a new game.
Overall, this was a truly enjoyable game, and the next time there's a sale, the CE will definitely be mine! Muwahaha~