When I read the title Atlantis: Mysteries of the Ancient Inventors HD the first impression that immediately came to mind was that I was probably going to experience a game where I would discover some insight into Ancient Atlantean culture and its many supposed fantastical inventions. Alas, what I received was yet another example of banal game design that hardly manages to present a coherent plot other than, “Let’s go find Atlantis.” Now, that is not necessarily a bad idea as there are literally a thousand variations of what happened to the long lost Atlantean civilization but the game makes the fatal mistake of crafting a hidden object experience that surely ranks as one of the worst on the market.
I have always considered myself somewhat kind-hearted and willing to let organizations or people have the opportunity to redeem themselves. As my reviews of the other two Mystery Agency games have shown (A Vampire’s Kiss, Secrets of the Orient), developer DTP has not been particular adapt at creating compelling hidden object games that combine sound gameplay mechanics with a solid narrative. Based on past experience I was hesitant to buy this third installment in the franchise yet part of my sympathetic psyche won out and decided to give them another shot. It turns out I should have listened to reason and avoided it like the plague.
Antique Road Trip USA HD is an average title that tries to mix up the usually mundane hidden object gameplay paradigm but ultimately fails to add anything original to the genre. Throw in a rather silly narrative that is less than engaging and functions only to force players to visit different American cities and the entire experience feels incredibly monotonous.
Time Mysteries Inheritance is certainly a competent hidden object game yet the experience is so vanilla that one can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. The game attempts to spin a tale of time travelling adventure that spans multiple centuries yet it never truly comes together in a coherent and emotionally involving package. Instead, the game resembles a hodge-podge of different locations replete with authentic attire from differing time periods but its altogether too disjointed to make much of an impression.
At first glance Nightmare Adventures: Witch’s Prison seems like yet another hidden object game instalment but first impressions are very deceiving. In fact the game is a creepy supernatural blend of adventure and puzzle gaming at its best featuring a well-spun psychological tale that though a bit on the lite side manages to intrigue. That said the difficulty level is through the roof especially for those who really want nothing but object discovery gameplay because it features a very refreshing set of puzzles that are not based on typical genre trappings yet because of this it can lead to much frustration for some.
Just when I thought that I couldn’t play a worse hidden object game than Rangy Lil’s Wild West Adventure here comes Route 66 which is a carbon copy of the aforementioned game but lacking even more features making the title a sure contender for worst iPad game of all time. Developer Gameshastra should be completely ashamed and embarrassed for these bad PC ports which rip out content for no apparent reason. In this case, much like Rangy Lil’s Wild West Adventure this means that there are no mini games whatsoever and that gameplay consists entirely of hidden object locations one after the other from start to finish. While HOG gamers might see this as a positive it does nothing but frustrate players to no end especially when one takes into account the game’s dual daggers of boredom the first being the ludicrously easy difficulty and the second the total lack of any penalties.
My current obsession with playing hidden object games continues but as I proceed I’m quickly finding out that many of these titles are not only mediocre but some are downright abysmal. Rangy Lil’s Wild West Adventure is one of those from the latter camp and is just a horrid example of what the genre has to offer. I have never been so agitated that I have felt the need to rush through the game as fast as possible merely so that I could finish it and get the hell out of there. Yes, this is one frustratingly annoying experience that just about merits nothing positive to say.
Square Enix, makers of Final Fantasy and other standout Japanese Role Playing Games, have never had a problem with their presentation as their games ooze high production values at every turn with gloriously realized graphics and melodic soundtracks. Even small elements like menu select screens have an undeniable flair. Nevertheless, Square Enix have been known to shoot themselves in the foot in areas such as gameplay and narrative, a rather common phenomenon that unfortunately plagues their recent work in the current console generation. That said Imaginary Range shows that Square Enix is still eager to try new things out although the end result is decidedly mixed.