hidden object games

[Review] Alexander the Great: The Secrets of Power (PC)

Recently, I decided to go through my boxed games and thin out the collection. Now that I am on Windows 10, some of these very old school games just don’t cut it. Some of the CDs had such trouble that my PC wouldn’t even show what was on some of them! But, as I was going through them, I remembered my friend Amanda had given me a CD that contained a 6-pack of hidden object games with one game in particular that was really good – Alexander the Great: The Secrets of Power. Time to figure out how to get it to play! And, after some effort, I managed to install the game, and we were on our way!

A parcel has arrived to your flat that contains a letter and a ring from the Rarity Foundation, an Archeological Society that believes you are a descendant of Alexander the Great. The ring holds special time-travel powers unleashed only for a descendant who wears it. The Society has several other artifacts, and would like you to participate in their study. You are provided with a plane ticket to Greece where you are to meet Oscar, a rep from the Society who would guide you to various museums and archeological sites via a cell phone. Blindly, you comply, and the minute you land in Greece you have a target on your back as these artifacts are sought after by thieves and other distant heirs. It’s quite an implausible ride that sees you visit at least 5 different places on the planet such as India, and Ireland.

Alexander the Great: the Secrets of Power is an excellent and fulsome hidden object game. For a game from 2012, the graphics are vivid and defined, and it has a great soundtrack. Although the storyline is out there, the game itself mechanically speaking was very enjoyable, providing a nice variety of hidden object scenes and puzzles that keep you interested. Some might guffaw at the animations, as characters just move their lips open and closed (probably so that the game could be adaptively dubbed into other languages), but, I didn’t find it that bad. I was most pleased that the game was all in proper English, with English-speaking actors (hey, a Christmas miracle!).

Interesting to note, the developers continue to add some Canadiana into the hidden object scenes! This time, how about indicating the old Canadian 50-dollar bill?

I had a lot of fun with Alexander the Great: the Secrets of Power. It was one of those games I looked forward to playing at the end of a long day, and was just as good as I remembered it. Dare I say, it is entered into my pantheon of best hidden object games ever! I am surprised it hasn’t made its way to Steam yet (and it really should)! But, it’s on Big Fish Games, if you’re so inclined to check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

5/5

Alexander the Great: The Secrets of Power
Playrix
2012

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[Review] Escape the Lost Kingdom: The Forgotten Pharaoh (PC)


A young family takes a trip to Egypt to visit Aunt Amy who is curating an Egyptian museum in the latter stages of prep before its grand opening. The museum is teaming with ancient ruins…and unbeknownst to anyone, is on top of an old tomb that contains an ancient Pharaoh curse. It was daughter Emily’s bright idea to bring Jinxie, the family cat, on this trip. When it escapes in the museum, the kids run off after it. Suddenly, the ancient curse is activated and locks the family in the museum in separate areas of the building. The family must separately, then collectively, find a way to escape the museum and ultimately the curse.

Escape the Lost Kingdom: The Forgotten Pharaoh from developers Gogii is a game from 2012 that has been sitting in my Steam library since 2014. I really enjoyed it, particularly the dynamic where you have the choice to play as one of four family members. Each member is armed with a helpful device that aids in solving puzzles. A helpful map is provided, and you are told when you have cleared an area. The game is under 3 hours long, and mostly consists of hidden object scenes and collecting items on your route.

Although a decent game, I must say Escape the Lost Kingdom does have its faults. It holds up pretty well graphically, but I am positive some will find it difficult to see certain smaller objects. Interestingly, this game boasts a 3D mode where users with the old red/cyan 3D glasses can play the game in “3D”, and I can only imagine what that looks like. The music is a bit caciphonic depending on what room of the museum you are in and some may be annoyed at the slightly stilted voiceover acting between family members, but I personally thought the dialogue was cute in a Treasure Seekers sort of way. On a funny note, no one can get a consensus on how the cat’s name is spelled: is it Jinxie, Jynxie, Jinxy, or Jynxy? Inquiring minds want to know!

The game ended on a major a cliff-hanger. I was particularly puzzled when I still had items in my inventory as a black slate went up saying “Game Over”! I read other reviews on Escape the Lost Kingdom, and found out its Platinum Edition provides another chapter that rounds out the story perfectly. That is unfortunate…what happened to Jinxie/Jynxie/Jinxy/Jynxy? What happened to the curse? The Platinum Edition isn’t available on Steam…At this stage I’ll never find out!

I’ve dealt with other Gogii games that end weirdly (Voodoo Whisperer) and I hate to turn the stink-eye towards them…but dude, finish your games! I don’t want to out and out thumbs down Escape the Lost Kingdom, but it is disappointing to see an incomplete ending because the rest of the game isn’t bad at all. Developers, complete your story, then use the Platinum Edition as a bonus for gamers to unlock.

Overall, Escape the Lost Kingdom: the Forgotten Pharaoh is pretty good. Just ignore the confusing ending!

3/5

Escape the Lost Kingdom: The Forgotten Pharaoh
Gogii
2012

[Review] The Beast of Lycan Isle (PC)

Luna and Tara are best friends and traveling buddies who are set to rendezvous on Lycan Island – a normally bustling tourist trap that has turned dark and inhospitable in its off-season. Luna arrives only to find that Tara has disappeared from her hotel room. You go searching the Island for your friend, and find a wolf is on the loose. With the help of Brina, an old woman with special powers to manipulate the wolf, you search the entire island for your friend before it’s too late. Has a wolf got a hold of Tara, or has she turned into one of them?

The Beast of Lycan Isle has been sitting in my Steam library for many years. Obviously, I had forgotten all about it! For the most part I can say this is a game reminiscent in style and feel to Angelica Weaver, right down to the ever present voiceover instructions which can get tedious. There is a lot of leading and hand-holding here, which is perfect for the beginner gamer. Clues are always present but the voiceover is constant. This one is a little low on the hidden object scenes, but high on the puzzles and collecting of items around the environment.

I think others would enjoy the Beast of Lycan Isle, even though there are plenty of elements I did not enjoy about it. On top of the constant hand-holding, I didn’t care much for the look of it, or the characters…and the plot seemed a little odd. Yeah, I didn’t like it, and I would never want to play this again. HOWEVER, the newbie gamer might / would likely get something out of it.

2/5

The Beast of Lycan Isle
Gogii
2012

[Review] White Haven Mysteries (PC)

Something happened at the old White Haven…Dr. Conlon the head researcher was doing trials on a serum that would reverse the effects of mental disorders testing it on young patients. Some would say he managed to help his patients reverse the effects. If only the Federal Drug Administration would have approved the antidote already instead of banning it! It didn’t help that those five children administered the serum ran away from White Haven causing so much negative attention…which inevitably caused the manor to shut down and 20 years on it’s slated to be razed. Dr. Conlon has since disappeared from sight to parts unknown…

How is it you woke up at White Haven’s dilapidated doorstep? You are groggy and can’t remember how you got here, or why. You are met with a little girl who knows you and says you used to live there. She lures you into the manor – and the door shuts on you abruptly. The little girl vanishes down the corridor. You roam the halls seeing her in an apparition. You feel like you are going insane. A voice gets in your head, saying you must find the antidote before you go crazy. Who was that man’s voice? Dr. Conlon? Who is that little girl? Do you know her?

White Haven Mysteries has been sitting on my Steam account since 2013, and I have to wonder why I waited so long to play it. It’s a pretty good game with an interesting story. The game is from 2012, but don’t let its age fool you: everything looks fairly modern. And if you want to get creeped out, you’ll find it in the unsettling imagery, as well as music that reminded me a lot of Alan Wake (one piano note playing on a loop, and the sound of a gust of wind deafening you).

I really enjoyed the hidden object scenes in this one. The game does have typical scenes, but also did something a little different to make the game even more challenging:

Yeah, man! This HOG is worse than looking through a junk pile…

Canadian game developer Gogii also gave some nudge-winks at their Canadian roots, infusing some “very Canadian” items in their scenes, including having to locate Canadian old-school $1 bills (not in use in Canada since 1987…) and an airline ticket that looks destined for Europe, but the YYC destination would send you to Calgary, Alberta.

Overall, I’d recommend White Haven Mysteries. I see it go on sale on Steam frequently: pick it up on sale for cheap!

4.5/5

White Haven Mysteries
Gogii
2012

[Review] Haunted Past: Realm of Ghosts (PC)

Sara Haverston gets a call from Solicitor Mr. Malloy, and learns she has just inherited a large estate. Details about the estate remain a mystery. But, she soon finds out more as she encounters the ghost of her dead mother who is hiding out from an evil force that has taken over the estate. Room by room, Sara must systematically clear out the evil spirit by finding glyphs and other objects that will chase it away.

The estate itself is a dark and depressing place, but you as Sara gain access to a portal of light in each room – a gateway to a brighter and more cheerful equivalent of the room you are in. There you can also find objects that can be hidden away so that once you “cross over” back to the dark side they can be used to chase the evil away and save Sara’s mother’s spirit.

The first time I played Haunted Past: Realm of Ghosts was back in 2011 when I was tearing through Hidden Object games like there was no tomorrow. I remember writing down on “my list” that it was pretty good… And it is still a good game, albeit a little short at under 3 hours. It’s also a little dated in the graphics department, but the overall plot and mechanics still hold up. The soundtrack to Haunted Past is very eerie; if you play, make sure the volume is turned up and the lights off! Guaranteed to give you the willies.

About my only real complaint is the very tinny voice overs which likely had to do with the game’s age. The music however came out crisp and clean…and creepy!

I found Haunted Past: Realm of Ghosts on Steam at a huge discount. Pick it up if you are so inclined. You won’t be disappointed.

4/5

Haunted Past: Realm of Ghosts
Gogii
2011

[Review] Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek (PC/Android)

I reviewed Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek back in June 2013: one of the very first games I ever reviewed for Caught Me Gaming!

Back then, I was looking for decent games to play on my Android tablet, and this one was just about perfect. Recently, I acquired this game and its sequel in a Steam sale. Wanting to see if it still held up, I installed it and took for a spin on my PC. I can tell you, my feelings about this game have not changed.

In the Ghosts of Maple Creek, you play a detective who wakes up with amnesia after an accident during a violent storm. As your memories flood back, you realize you are in Maple Creek, Vermont investigating the disappearance of Kate, a woman from the area who disappeared. To your surprise, you discover this disappearance is not unique. In fact, there has been a succession of women gone missing, including the loved one of one Detective Hamilton who had disappeared himself searching for her. Along the way, you find clues to Kate’s and the couple’s whereabouts as well as discover that there is something strange going on with the townfolk that links back to a local preacher.

The clicheed-sounding plot of Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek may lower your expectations of the game. But stick around – there are some interesting takes on the whole amnesia-stricken-oh-I-finally-remember plot line. In fact, I’d hazard, this game is one of the more intriguing plots I’ve come to discover in a HOG in a while.

The mini-games are a good variety of hidden object and other uncommonly seen puzzles (Picross, anyone?); some are actually very challenging. I did notice how the game recycled hidden object scenes and even clues a few times (hint: you will be looking for those John Lennon eyeglasses and feathers a lot so pay attention!). In fact, the first HOG you come across will become very familiar throughout. And weird too, because you get to stare at people’s gitch while searching for objects, like you are looking for your keys after an eventful frat party.

Picross in a Hidden Object game? Great!

The graphics in the Ghosts of Maple Creek are well-produced. The story takes place sometime in the Fall, so you get plenty of falling leaves that you have to sweep out of the way, rainfall, and even what looks like a tornado in the distance. Combine that with an eerie soundtrack, and you have the perfect ambiance for a creepy game. This means if you don’t like seeing graves, dead bodies, zombies and skeletons, this is not for you (but who doesn’t like a zombie in their games? C’mon now…).

In one scene, you get to play around with a compass!

About the only real critique on the game I can offer is for the map which is hidden away in your notebook for some reason and doesn’t transport you to a particular area. No idea why…it’s the most essential part to the notebook, in my opinion. Quite a missed opportunity for the perfect game. Just expect a lot of back tracking and mouse clicking with this one.

The Collector’s Edition of Ghosts of Maple Creek also includes a prequel called the Ghosts of the Past, unlocked to players after completing the main game. It is a short HOG that explores Detective Hamilton’s experience searching for his beloved Emily back in 1980. It’s quite good, and fits perfectly in the Enigmatis canon.

A scene from Ghosts of the Past

I was very impressed with Enigmatis: the Ghosts of Maple Creek. Great story, great gameplay. Pick it up!

4.8/5

Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek
Developer: Artifex Mundi
Released: 2011

[Review] Theatre of the Absurd (PC)

Theatre of the Absurd is a game I bought on Steam in May 2014 in a Silverback Games gamepack. Silverback Games is a Canadian developer that brought us the great Empress of the Deep series (“The Darkest Secret” got a 4.75/5 from me when I reviewed it September 2014!). And on preview, Theatre of the Absurd looked like creepy fun. What could go wrong?

Scarlet Frost is an expert on the occult who is called to Doctor Corvus’s estate one dark night to authenticate his Habsburg cube, a red box that holds a captured demon. The troubled Corvus loses his temper and throws the cube, shattering it and unleashing the demon who captures and possesses his young daughter. Scarlet is to use her forces of good to save the young girl. She is tasked with exploring Dr. Corvus’s weird “theatre of the absurd,” a massive mansion, to find pieces of a magical bell that will exorcise the demon. Each room is creepy, and demonstrates Corvus’s disturbing obsession with the devil.

I could really buy into the darkness vibe of Theatre of the Absurd. The music was foreboding, and there were some unexpected jump-scare moments not often seen in a hidden object game. However, the story itself was pretty thin and the tasks and puzzles were repetitive and uninspired.

In the first scene, you are having to save Corvus’s daughter by giving her water of Horus, an elixir that would temporarily relieve her of her possession. This could only mean the potion would wear off, and you would have to find more water of Horus to help her. I had enough of this task by the second time…

It didn’t help there were elements of the game that I feel were unrefined. Some of the hidden object scenes were blurry to the point I was reduced to pixel-hunting around and using hints to find certain objects. The puzzles felt ho hum fare (run steam through the pipes). And while I pile on, I also noticed odd errors in navigation in the game: an arrow would direct you to go one way, only to click it once to have you loop back to where you stood!

I tried to forge ahead with Theatre of the Absurd but alas, I found myself losing interest by the third chapter. Maybe someone else will feel this game is fun, but I would highly suggest you try Silverback’s much better offering, Empress of the Deep: the Darkest Secret.

2.5/5

Theatre of the Absurd (PC)
Silverback Games
2012