Before vocal Gamezebo readers write in and accost me for giving a great score to yet another seek-and-find game, do yourself a favor and download Mortimer Beckett and the Secrets of Spooky Manor, a highly enjoyable yet not entirely original adventure that gets mostly everything right.
OK, so the "Where’s Waldo" concept is overdone these days – we agree – but the developers at Paprikari did a great job in weaving in a fun story and puzzle-solving challenges to bring more to the table than the dozens of other "me too" clones.
In Spooky Manor, you play as Mortimer Beckett, the nephew to a strange uncle who lives in a creepy mansion. While you haven’t seen him in 20 years, he sends you a cryptic package including a journal that explains a starter unit to a Ghost Busters-like machine was stolen, and so you must come to the manor to retrieve all the pieces and activate the gadget to rid the residence of spooks. Of course, you accept.
You start in the boiler room and basement cellar by finding pieces of objects scattered around the scene. For example, you may be tasked to find a paintbrush, top hat, pot and chess piece – but each one is in two, three or four pieces. Once you find all the items within the predetermined amount of time, it is added to your inventory, which then must be used in the room or in another one. Once put together, you can place the top hat with the magician’s items, the chess piece on a chessboard and the paintbrush with other brushes in a can, and so on.
In some instances you won’t be able to complete the room until you retrieve an item in another room on the same floor. For instance, you might notice a chain blocking a door in one level. Once you realize you don’t have anything to cut through this, you will revisit it once you find and compile a hacksaw elsewhere. In the kitchen, you’ll see an obese female ghost sitting at the table. You find out she wants a piece of cake so you must find all the pieces, compile the cake and give it to her to eat. Once she leaves the scene, the last item you’ve been hunting for might be behind her. In another room you need to pour water onto a fireplace to reveal how to get to the next stage.
As you can tell, Spooky Manor adds quite a bit to the seek-and-find formula. On top of it all, players will slowly collect pieces of the Ghost Machine Starter your uncle wanted help with, unlock more letters to a secret code (which challenges players to rearrange the letters in a Hangman-like fashion) and offers atmospheric graphics and ghoulishly fitting music, too.
One main issue, however, is that some item pieces can be quite hard to find because they’re obscured by another item or they blend in too well into the background. Gamers who like a serious challenge, however, will enjoy how the game gets progressively more difficult as you move your way up through the floors in the house. Click on incorrect items too many times and you’re penalized by ghosts who fly around, making it harder for you to study the scene. You can of course click on the Hint button, should you need the assistance, but there’s only a few to go around.
Casual game fans should enjoy clicking through Mortimer Beckett and the Secrets of Spooky Manor. What it lacks in originality it more than makes up for in its additional puzzle elements, story and overall attractive presentation. Go ahead and enter the spooky manor – if you dare!