Sick of all those 3-in-a-row clones? Restaurant management sims? Seek-and-find mystery games?

You’re not alone.

Thankfully, there are fresh new games like Azada to keep the casual game genre from imploding.

In this adventure game, you awaken in a locked room to find a trapped spirit, Titus, who was magically imprisoned by his great uncle. By solving series of mind-bending puzzles you can break this spell and uncover the secret written in the missing pages of an enchanted book. The start of this game feels a bit like the classic point-and-click adventure, Myst, but in Azada the puzzles are all contained within the same room you find them (rather than walking around a larger world — and time traveling, too).

Like a dangling carrot, more of the story is revealed as you work your way through five increasingly challenging stages (Chapters), each with eight levels (Pages) or so.

The puzzles vary greatly from location to location, but here are some examples:

 

  • You’ll be asked to find four items in an environment — such as tape, flashlight, batteries and a hammer – so you must begin to open drawers and cupboards to find the items, or use the ones you already found to locate the rest. For example, you could use the flashlight to hunt in the dark for the hammer, and then use the hammer to break open a vase, which has a key inside to open a locked drawer, which has the batteries in it. The batteries can then be used inside the TV remote but until you open up the floorboard and use the tape to fix the wires, the television can’t be turned on. Turn on the TV and you’ll be rewarded with a page towards the book. These types of puzzles are the most common in this game.

     

     

  • Sliding tile puzzles and jigsaw puzzles, where you need to manipulate the shapes – and sometimes by rotating them – to complete a picture, giving you a new page to the book. In a Car Jam-like game, you have to move pieces in a grid horizontally or vertically so that the main piece can exit the grid.

     

     

  • A Mastermind-like game of logic by matching color patterns (deducing which color is in what order), and a Simon-like game, where you must mimic colors shown in a mirror by pressing the colored buttons in the correct sequence.

     

     

  • Concentration-like games that challenge you to remember what’s behind overturned tiles, and a matching game where you must find and match two identical butterflies from a screen full of them. A 3-in-a-row game has you clicking on adjoined tile pieces of the same color to remove them from the board.

     

    And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, we’ve seen many of these types of puzzles before, but they’re all nicely tied to the story and players will love collecting every new piece of paper, which brings them closer to the next chapter in the book. The graphics are quite beautiful and atmoshperic, and the music and sound effects also fit nicely into this mystical mystery.

    For the savvy player, hidden clues on the screen will unlock additional levels, while more novice players can opt for a hint when stuck. Speaking of which, I got stumped in Chapter 2 with a colored runes puzzle, which drove me crazy, so I had to request the help.

    One nice thing about the game is you can play any completed puzzle whenever you like, and in some cases may be a bit different which adds to the game’s replayability. For example, one puzzle has you filling in a silhouette with wooden pieces, which you must rotate to fit, and when I returned later to play it again it was a different silhouette shape altogether.

    While I drew some analogies between Azada and Myst, be aware this isn’t really an adventure game, per se – it’s more of a collection of puzzle games tied together by a story. Most adventure games let the player roam around an environment talk with characters, store items in their inventory and solve puzzles to advance through the game.

    Also, while it doesn’t bother me, some gamers may prefer just one type of game-play – such as Sudoku, Breakout-style games or 3-in-a-row puzzlers, as examples — rather than a smorgasbord of game types, so those who fall in the former camp may not like the variety offered in Azada.

    Azada is one of those games you need to discover for yourself, instead of a Gamezebo writer spoiling it all for you. If you’ve a fan of puzzle games or want a casual game with a story, you’ll no doubt have fun with this clever and refreshingly unique mystery.