[Review] Unsolved Mystery Club: Amelia Earhart (PC)

The first time I ever learned of Amelia Earhart, was as a child watching an episode of In Search Of…with Leonard Nimoy. Sort of an ominous way of learning about missing persons, as the show scared bejeezus out of me. Since, I have been a bit fascinated with mysteries of the unexplained. What happened to Amelia Earhart and her flying partner, Fred Noonan, on July 2, 1937? Theories abound, and no one has definitively figured out what happened to her.

Playing a hidden object game about Amelia Earhart may seem like there would be serious cheese…or even that it would be too easy to immediately say at first glance that this game is not going to be good. I went in skeptical, especially since this game is on the same DVD as Victorian Mysteries: Woman in White.

What a surprise! Unsolved Mystery Club: Amelia Earhart on PC is impressively good.

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You play yourself, a guest of the world famous Unsolved Mystery Club, a Centre that is a repository of knowledge pertaining to unsolved mysteries from around the world, and originally started by two men whose daughters fell victim to Jack the Ripper. Your tour guide, Henry Hudson, leads you through the centre to the Amelia Earhart chamber where you watch newsreels on her life, study theories about her disappearance, and solve hidden object puzzles to draw your own conclusions about what happened to her.

The good: Well-done history on Amelia’s life, and is this game’s strength. Good cross-section of puzzles to solve. The game leads the gamer, so no chance of getting lost. No glitching. Game looks great, sounds great.

The bad: Having to start three different hidden object scenes to find items you need so you can solve the rest may confuse and frustrate gamers. Some of the graphics hide object so well, you can’t possibly see them. Henry Hudson, the veritable cheese factory, can go away.

When you first start playing the game, you are presented with “newsreels” on Amelia Earhart that show actual footage of the aviator, and voiceovers that use her real voice. I thought those were wonderful and innovative! You are then presented with a theory of what happened to Amelia including searching the scene of the theory for clues. You then go into Amelia’s history, dating back to when she was a child, to when she worked as a Nurse in a Toronto Military hospital during WW1, to when she did actual flying. Hidden object scenes are based on her factual history, and are quite intricate. In one scene at an airstrip, the developers managed to have dark storm clouds roll in and streaks of lightening flash as you search the scene for hidden objects. You can hear the roll of thunder faintly in the distance. The game really knows how to set the scene. You are even given an opportunity to fly a plane though hoops, fly upside down and land. After it’s all said and investigated, you then have to vote on what theory you think is what likely happened.

Although the hidden object scenes are great, you are not able to complete one until you move on to the next scene, as there are particular objects you need to get to solve puzzles in other scenes. Thankfully, in each chapter, there are only three scenes to solve, so the gamer would not get too confused. Also, I found some of the items you search for way too small to be identified as that particular object; you do make use of the hint button in that scenario.

Here, Henry plays the role of a barbershop quartet member...because, y'know, it's 1897 and all...

Here, Henry plays the role of a barbershop quartet member…because, y’know, it’s 1897 and all…

Lastly, a few words about Henry Hudson, the host and leader of your adventure into Earhart’s life. With such a mature theme for a game, with such a level of production, he didn’t need to be there, and, in my opinion, was a detriment to the game. He would pop up like that annoying MS Office assistant animated paperclip, giving you direction when you don’t want it and fromaging up the joint unnecessarily. What made it worse was they took him and gave him a jokey literal approach with his attire: If we were in Hawaii, he’d be wearing a lei. If we were at an airplane hangar, he’d be dressed as a grease monkey. It just seemed to me that with the quality of this game, Henry Hudson brought the integrity down, and would have been better without him. That said, I wouldn’t write off this game because of him.

Overall, Unsolved Mystery Club: Amelia Earhart was a fantastic game. It has everything you could possibly want including a variety of gameplay and a history lesson! What could be better?

Unsolved Mystery Club: Amelia Earhart
Developer: Freeze Tag
Released: 2011

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