The official residence of Britain’s royal family since 1837, Buckingham Palace has its fair share of secrets and mysteries. The latest seek-and-find adventure from GameMill Entertainment, Hidden Mysteries: Buckingham Palace, puts you on the trail of a long-lost treasure rumoured to exist somewhere among the palace’s 750 rooms.
Of course, you don’t actually explore all 750 rooms of the palace in the game – it’s actually more like a dozen of the palace’s "greatest hits," including Admiralty Arch, the Royal Mews, the Queen’s Gallery and the Victoria Memorial statue. You’ll visit most of the locations more than once across the game’s 12 chapters as you search each scene for the clues on your list.
Hidden Mysteries: Buckingham Palace shows improvement over its predecessor, Hidden Mysteries: Civil War in a few respects. Graphics are better, and objects aren’t so tiny. There’s a creative three-tiered hints system where you spend "Hint Credits" to purchase different levels of hint. One hint credit reveals an item’s silhouette, three credits shows a picture of what the item looks like, and five hint credits goes ahead and actually reveals the item’s location.
You’ll have to complete the occasional mini-game, such as deciphering tricky anagrams in an old letter, or arranging portrait paintings in the correct order on the wall of the Queen’s Gallery.
What’s more, certain key items on your list can be added to your inventory and used to solve puzzles by clicking on "hotspots" in the scene – such as using a lighter to light a candle after you’ve placed it in a candelabrum.
However, the game still suffers from messiness and a strange assortment of out-of-place objects. Where some hidden object games make an effort to include objects that actually make sense in the context of the story and location, and take great pains to cleverly blend said objects with the scenery, the locations in Hidden Mysteries: Buckingham Palace just seem to be littered with random junk like sushi, an anchor, a dumbbell, and even an airplane! You’d think you had stumbled into a teenager’s bedroom instead of a royal palace.
Each time you visit a room the game gives you some brief facts about its background, which is mildly interesting – especially for history buffs – but it’s no substitute for an actual planned and scripted story.
Basically, Hidden Mysteries: Buckingham Palace is a decent hidden object game with an innovative hint system and some interesting inventory-based puzzles, but it’s a game that could have been even better if a little more thought and effort had gone into storyline, item context, and how items were placed in the scenes.