Our Worst Fears: Stained Skin
There are separate sliders for music and sound (no voiceovers), plus a full-screen option -- it plays beautifully in wide-screen. You can choose between Casual and Expert modes. I went for expert mode so that I didn't have to deal with unwanted sparklies
The journal is done story-telling style, which I don't remember seeing in any other game. ie. "Victor slowly opened his eyes." The entries in the journal add an important depth to the story, and there are no spoilers in there, so I highly recommend keeping up with what's written there.
Right off the bat, there was something that really irritated me. We see something in front of us, and when we hover our mouse over it, there is a magnifying glass, so I of course clicked... That was a mistake! It not only tells us what kind of thing we need to find, but puts the outline of the item needed right in our inventory bar! If you hover your mouse over it, it will tell you EXACTLY what you need to find! BOO, HISS!
If I wanted to be led around by the hand, I wouldn't have chosen expert mode! The only thing that kept me playing was the fact that Jeanniemouse recommended the game so highly!
As it turns out, there is a method to the devs' madness! You cannot pick up certain items until you trigger the magnifying glass-inventory process. The items are incredibly well-hidden in plain sight, and we're not dependent upon hidden object scenes to find everything we need. I'm not sure that I'm explaining this well, but you'll see what I mean when you play for yourselves... once you get past the prologue (which is short.) There are five chapters to the game, each taking place in a different part of the world. As we progress, the gameplay becomes more and more complex, and it no longer feels like you're being lead around by the hand. It gets difficult, at least in expert mode!
Early on you will find a scroll, and the instructions given aren't clear. Just keep an eye out for letter tiles (the letters are pink, not terribly hard to find,) and when you find them all, click on the scroll, and place the letters to spell out the name of a fear. It will become more clear as you play.
You get an AREA COMPLETE message each time you completely finish a scene.
The hidden object scenes have a truly different way to play them, if you so choose. Some games offer match-3 or mahjong instead of looking for hidden items, but this one offers you more of a puzzle-like option. You can switch to goggle-mode, which will give you two outlines (at a time,) and you have to figure out where they belong and place them, almost jigsaw-style. Finding the correct placement will highlight the area so that you can see that there's an item hidden there. Not necessarily as easy as it sounds! There is some light interaction on the HOS (besides the optional puzzle mode.) It's easy to see which items you need to interact with, as there is a gear next it/them. There is a penalty for rapid misclicks, at least in expert mode. HOS do not repeat, and are nicely spaced throughout the gameplay.
HINTS are refillable, and you can SKIP puzzles if you so wish. Using a hint during the adventure portion will give you a directional arrow if there is nothing to do on the current scene, and does not discharge your hint. As for the puzzles themselves, they are quite different than I'm used to seeing. Even when the premise is familiar, they're presented in a way that is fresh and interesting.
I think the devs were going for something different with the gamplay, but I found it to be a bit clunky, thus distracting me from an intriguing story. If you enjoy a good story, I think you'll like this game, but if you don't like to do a lot of reading in your games, this one is probably not for you.