Hidden object games that challenge players to find hundreds of well-concealed items in busy scenes is one of the hottest genres in the casual gaming space. This includes plenty of "sequelitis," which is just fine for fans of a particular series. And the latest sequel in the Dream Day franchise, Dream Day Wedding: Married in Manhattan, should satiate long-time fans.
Dream Day Wedding: Married in Manhattan is the fourth release in the series, following its highly successful predecessors Dream Day Wedding, Dream Day Honeymoon and Dream Day First Home. Once again players get to help guide lovebirds and follow their story by solving puzzles and selecting various paths for them to take. This time around, however, you get to play as a New York-based wedding planner out to help new (and very different) couples prepare for their big day.
After selecting which pair you’d like to work for, the core game-play will be familiar to hidden object veterans. You’ll first select which scene you want to search through – whether it’s indoor locations such as a florist or the bride-to-be’s home or outdoor scenes such as a local café or Central Park – and then find hidden objects listed on the left-hand side of the screen, such as a watch, apple, horse, necklace or cheesecake. Once you find and click on the item it gets scratched off the list.
If stuck, you can click a Hint button, but you’re limited on how many of these you can use up (you can, however, look for hidden bluebirds per level, which will replenish your hints). If you click on incorrect items too many times some seconds are shaved off the clock – but with 20 minutes or so to complete each of the two dozen scenes you’ll have plenty of time. You can also find blue gems per level to extend your time or when you hear your cell phone ring you’ll be challenged to find it quickly.
But what separates Married in Manhattan from many other hidden object games – aside from a high level of polish – are the various mini-games and other challenges. Every few levels players will solve adventure game-like puzzles within the busy scenes before you get your list of items to search for. For example, in the bride’s bathroom you’ll click to open shower curtain and see a magazine you need to open, but it’s too wet. So you’ll pick up the hair dryer and use it on magazine. Now you can open the magazine and you turn to a page with a photo of a light fixture that matches one in bathroom. When you click on the light it’s too hot to touch, so you must turn off the light (the switch is behind a hanging pink robe) and after removing the light fixture you see something hidden behind it, but your hands are too big – tweezers are needed to retrieve the note.
This sequel also brings back “wedding crisis” levels, where you must race against the clock to find items to avoid a catastrophe. For example, the chef decides to get experimental with your wedding cake, and it looks horrible, so you only have a couple of minutes to find items and then you get to create a new cake by selecting the shape, decorations and such. Other crises include ruined bouquets and wedding dress mishaps.
The third type of bonus includes a wedding registry. The player gets to choose a present, which unlocks a different kind of mini-game inside, including a puzzle game involving a seating plan or the Choc-o-matic pipe game. Completing the puzzle in a certain amount of time reveals the gift.
While gamers have ample time to complete each puzzle, players can choose to play a “Carefree” version of the game (found in the Options menu) which takes away the clock altogether.
Finally, players will also get to read text-based tales about the couple and select from different outcomes to keep the story chugging along – kind of like those old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books for kids.
While Married in Manhattan is a very well-made game, we do have a couple of issues with it. For one, you’ll visit the same location a few times, which is fine, and you’ll be asked to look for different items for the most part, but because the items are usually in the same place you’ll solve puzzles too quickly upon your return to the scene (you’ll see where a fork or heart is the first time you play the level, for instance, even if it’s not on your list, and thus remember where it is the next time you play).
Another beef is some confusing items to find. For example, I was asked to find a notecard, so I clicked on the small notecard with the bride’s name on it but it was incorrect. Huh? Instead, another blank note was hidden on the level.
We also found that when we clicked right on an item, it sometimes would say it’s incorrect until you click on a different spot on the same item. In other words, the game maker should’ve given players a bit bigger of a target to avoid frustrating them.
But overall, Married in Manhattan is a very good hidden object game that will no doubt impress fans of the series. Even if you haven’t played one of these games before, the four “extra” game-play elements and overall theme and slick presentation should ensure many hours of entertaining mouse clicking.