Dark Parables: The Exiled Prince
Options include separate sliders for music / ambiance and sound, a full-screen option. There is also a HELP button there, for those not familiar with this type of gameplay.
As for in-game play, there is only one difficulty setting when you first play. Completing the game will open up the HARD mode. This difficulty setting means no hints, no skipping mini-games, and access to a new area. Not sure what's in there, since I only completed the normal mode!
The story progresses mostly via cut scenes, which are voiced over, and skippable if you wish. There is no journal, but you do have a MAP, which tracks your objectives, and will give you hints if you need them (have to click to open the hint - no spoilers! Hoorah!)
Your map is a great necessity, as there are many locations (I got lost a lot!), and it will show you where there are items to interact with, and where to look for hidden object scenes. There is no "jump-to" option, sadly, and the map is a bit hard to follow, but it is still invaluable in your quest, as you will see.
As with the first Dark Parable game (Briar Rose), there are cursed objects (aka morphing items) to find. Finding these will help refill your hint meter faster. During the HARD gameplay, there are no morphing items, as you will have no hint button! HINTS refill quickly during the hidden object scenes, but skipping puzzles will lock up your hint button for 5 minutes (unless you find a cursed object, then it will not take as long.)
Trying to use the hint button during the adventure portion of the game will do nothing unless there is something on the screen for you to interact with. This is where your map and the objective list will come in very handy!
In the hidden object scenes, for those not familiar with FROG's, are what we call fragmented objects. Collect all of the fragmented items pictured at the bottom of the screen to find an item that will be useful for your quest. Unlike the early days of FROG's, these fragments are artfully placed within the scenes, making them seem as if they belong where they are placed. This really adds to the difficulty level, especially when they take on the reflected colors and/or shadows of the items nearby. This is the farthest thing from "junk pile" imaginable, and beautifully done. You will revisit scenes, but they are different every time, making the scene "fresh" each time you see it. You will find useful items not only during these scenes, but during adventure gameplay, as well.
There is a mis-click penalty, but only after clicking fast and furious for about 10 seconds. In other words, it likely won't affect you unless you TRY for it! :lol:
As with any game of this type, there are puzzles to solve throughout the game. I found these to be imaginative and fun, almost like the old Ravenhearst door puzzles (though not as difficult.)
The story... well, I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that the devs brought the story together with twists both old and new. How's that for cryptic? I will say that it was beautifully done, and I enjoyed it very much.WARNING
for the arachnophobes: There is a large black widow prominently displayed in one scene, but it's one you don't spend a whole lot of time in, so hopefully it won't bother you too much
Overall, this is a gorgeous game with excellent gameplay, graphics, music, and story. Definitely recommended, even if (like me) you don't tend to enjoy fragmented object games.