Just Not The Same***
BASED ON DEMO
I have liked this series from the first, with its nifty idea of revealing a wholly different view of the same world when the lights go out. So I am deeply disappointed that this game doesn’t really do that. I even checked it was the same developer, I was so convinced this game did not belong. But it is the same, so I am left wondering “why?”. Why mess with a winning formula?
SIGHTS & SOUNDS
The game is a dark fantasy, and so there is a lot of dark graphics, most of which are not too difficult to see, but I think it’s on the border in some parts. In the light, real world, the colours are so bright and bold they scream at you, and I don’t like them. The quality of the art is lovely, again, mostly. And the cut scenes are very well done.
Sounds, especially the effects, but also what passes for music, are very ominous and does take off a bit of the brashness of the colours and reinforces the story’s creepiness. The storm, as seen and heard from the living room window is excellent. Voiceovers are good, and no attempt has been made to lip synch, the faces are still.
As with each of the games in this series, we discover a world that exists only in the dark. We are investigating the disappearance of a young girl, who was given an unusual lamp for her birthday. When she switched it on, a beast of darkness grabbed her and blocked the door with a magical seal.
You are the right person for the job, because you have a gizmo that can remove such evil magic, and so you are soon able to follow Maria into the ‘dark world’ inside her bedroom. It is a fantastical place with much scary-looking weirdness, and the creature who stole Maria is clearly determined to stop you, and doesn’t much care how. You gain all the information you can here and are ready to move on when the demo ends.
The HOPs in this game are exciting because none of them are standard lists. The two in the demo are, first, pictures of misplaced items displayed, that must be found in the scene and then used correctly. And the second is a bunch of photo pieces that have been cut out of the ones you have. Both types require a bit of thinking, as well as searching, and are logical enough for you to deduce the correct moves.
Many of the puzzles are hard, even this early in the game. They are mainly familiar, but with one more degree of difficulty than usual. Some I hated. For example, there is one where you must ‘herd’ fireflies into a jar. This sort of manual dexterity is totally beyond me, and the skip function is slow to fill, even on the lowest of the 3 plus custom difficulty levels. When I play the game again, I hope I remember to reduce the skip time!
The gadget that removes magic comes with its own mini-game, which after using it three times, I am already loathing. It is an adaptation of aligning the reflections, and by the second one, I was out of my depth. There is also a pet (not ours, but) which has useful skills, although not the usual. Other features include a hint which teleports you to the place you need to be, and the journal which includes goals as well as story. The interactive jump map gives you current objectives rather than available tasks, and I find it a bit confusing to read, in any case. I prefer the hint.
In keeping with this developer’s history, there are no wallpapers, sound tracks etc. There are 9 Concept Art sketches and 30 replayable mini-games. Plus, there are 30 flowers (they look like creepy glowing lilies to me) and 15 morphing objects to collect. The morphing objects are actually the left over ejecta of cataclysmic transformations that you will be unable to miss. Still, it is a different and interesting use of them.
I am disappointed with this game, but I confess it is quite good, with some interesting features. I might just be me who will find it hard to appreciate this game. Still, I don’t think it’s on a par with either its predecessors or some of the games we have had released lately.
I recommend this game!