Almost Got Me, But...****
It’s a Free To Play game. I have tried a few of these now, trying to figure out why they are so popular, but it continues to escape me. I dislike them, but not wholly because they strike me as misleading at best. There really is nothing free about them, except maybe the first hour. Which is spent doing a lot of tutorial-style stuff anyway. By the time you get to your first case, you need more energy – which is of course where the actual dollars come in.
I don’t like these sorts of games for other reasons as well though. I’ve never bothered to explain these games to others, but finally, I will have a go at it here.
The object of the exercise is to accumulate experience points, and increase your levels, at which point more interesting stuff happens. The initially simple quests you are sent on show you the basics of getting around the map, searching a HOP, and interacting with characters . What this actually entails is quite complex, and unless you’ve played these games before, you will need that tutorial.
You attain the goals – experience, crystals, coins, energy, power ups and specific quest items, as well as collectibles for extra rewards – by completing these HOP scenes. Each of which have only a half a dozen items listed. You will need to return to these scenes many times before they are completed, but the list and the placement of the items change each time. Still, I was bored after the first two. They do spice it up a bit with a “night” mode, and a “frost” mode, but it is still the same scene. There is a magnifier I found useful, and a hint. Which I didn’t dare use in case it took away stuff I’d have to buy. There is also a thermometer which indicates what multiples of the points for an item apply, which goes up as you find items quickly and down when you don’t.
Generally, there will be quest items, say a newspaper, to be gained in these searches as well. Once you have completed the quest you must click on the indicator for it in the top left to get credit for it and receive your reward. Areas open up only when you have completed certain quests, found certain items, or reached a certain level.
You could play at this level interminably, but taking on each quest takes energy, and that’s what you must, ultimately, pay for. Because once you have run out of it, you cannot play again for a certain period of time. I am a little fuzzy on how much time that is.
Okay, enough about the gameplay. The story is attractive. You answer a request from M. Dupin to help him with his brand new detective agency. You are introduced to his secretary, who in fact does most of the explaining – why is that man so camera shy? – and soon you are searching Dupin’s house for forgotten items. Learning about how to create your own wardrobe, and how to decorate the very Spartan office.
Actual crimes start happening, including a reworked one fans will recognise, done in such a way that the HOPA game’s ending will not be correct. Guess they have to keep the suspense going. You get to meet the police involved, for whom you must first do favours of course, and then you will be ready to search the crime scene with M. Dupin.
Oh, look at the time! We’d better buy some energy before starting this investigation. Yup, you guessed it, the minute something interesting looks like happening, we must pause from our “sponsor” and buy something. Only $2.50, sure, but slippery slope I reckon, so even though I was tempted to keep playing, I refrained and got out while I could lol.
Did I, ultimately, enjoy it? Well, the music and the art were so Dark Tales, it was wonderful. M. Dupin, when he showed up, looked particularly handsome and much more like his old self. The HOPs were all disgustingly easy even by my standards, and the rest was just frou frou as far as I was concerned. No story could develop smoothly with that chip chop design of playing quests, so over time I think it would really get my goat.
Still, I stuck it out for an hour, and didn’t actively hate it. A lot of that was Dark Tales nostalgia. Still, I might go back...
As for recommending it, I can’t go conclusively one way or the other. Which is the best I’ve had to say about any of these F2P games.