Nice Stand-alone SE***
BASED ON DEMO
The game is low key and classy from the start, with minimalist but extremely nice graphics and a simply told start to the story. The music is wonderful. Just interesting enough, with a lot of style and a soothing melody. Not at all the spectacular high jinks of the “mega” HOPA games. And nice because of that.
I would have wished for greater and better animations, they brought the tone down a little. But the voiceovers (nice to see in a lesser production) are fabulous, and very amusing if you take them to be stereotypes of the characters portrayed.
The HOPs are clear, if a little ordinary. With images of the objects pasted in. I dislike that, but it is a low budget game after all.
You are an Inspector (from the Society of Sceptics), sent to Middleport to investigate a series of disappearances and tales of supernatural shenanigans and creatures. You are met by the Mayor, who welcomes you but seems a little distracted. Then you are on your own, trying to get your bearings. One of the first people you meet is a famous magician, upset that there is no audience for his grand performance tonight, and gypsy psychic type who offers to help you with spiritual guidance.
It is for the most part standard HOPA gameplay. Not all that many HOPs I thought. Plus familiar puzzles. Nothing exciting or new here, but comfortably within the right territory. HOPs are word lists with some interactivity. From the first, the word lists include multiple numbers of some items. As far as I saw, there is no returning to these scenes. Adventure gameplay makes logical sense without being linear. And the gypsy’s insights are fun. The game also sections off some parts from the others in order to force you to work in the areas required for progress. It was nicely done.
The journal is more than usually useful. The map (interactive and it jumps. It also gives cleared locations.) is inside it, which is a pity. So are the notes of the story. There is specific additional and helpful information about some of the items you pick up, so it is worth keeping up with it. There is also a guide to the 11 collectible animals you can find around. These unfortunately look like cardboard cut outs, added after completion and are very obvious. Less obvious but still fairly easy to find are the 18 collectible statues. And finally, there are also 44 Missing posters to collect.
There are 3 levels of difficulty plus a custom option. Hint is fast for the easy levels, skip not so much.
I’m not going to dance a jig over this game. It is nice, though, and a quiet afternoon spent with it would, I believe, be a pleasure.
I recommend this game!