In case you haven’t noticed, the popular “hidden object game” genre has evolved in three main areas: better stories, higher production values and by weaving in adventure game-like puzzles to add more depth and purpose to your work.
Mystery Stories: Berlin Nights succeeds on all these fronts to deliver a lengthy and memorable game experience that’s well worth the investment. It’s not a flawless puzzler, but it gets a lot right.
As the name suggests, this sequel to Mystery Stories: Island of Hope takes place in the beautiful city of Berlin, when American journalist Michelle Deanfield stumbles upon a secret machine from World War II that could potentially solve the world’s energy problems. It seems the Nazis prevented the engineer from completing this machine, and so it’s up to you to visit a number of locations in (and under) the city and meet key characters that can help you collect pieces of the machine and solve clues as to their whereabouts. But be aware some malicious types are also after this device!
After the impressive intro — which combines photos of real actors with storyboard sequences and animated bits – players will begin looking for objects in busy scenes. You know the drill: a dozen or so items you must find are listed on the screen, such as “2 hats,” “4 microphones,” “sunglasses,” and “dog.” Once you find the objects you click them with your mouse and they disappear from the scene and scratched off the list. Once you complete them all you can move onto the next location.
Click too many times on incorrect items and you’ll lose time off the clock. Complete these puzzles quickly, however, and you’ll earn a speed bonus. If you need help there are various kinds of clues you can collect and use including ones that show you where a well-hidden item is and another one that adds more time to the clock (or freezes it temporarily).
While the game starts off with a list of items to find, written out as words, future levels will have players read clues and then must click the appropriate items (such as “morning,” “daily” and “read” = newspaper). Another twist on the genre is audio clues, so you’ll click and hear sounds such as a computer keyboard, gun, airplane or frog and click the right item on the screen. Or you might be presented with “tasks,” including dragging one item onto another (banana peels into a trash can, for instance). Speaking of tasks, most levels require the player to perform some sort of item combining, like placing a key in a lock, stamping a postcard or dropping a coin into a parking meter.
Every few levels players will also complete mini-game like puzzles, which are typical for the genre. The dozen or so different kinds of mini-games, though, aren’t as unique or memorable as other hidden object games – usually consisting of turning knobs and matching pictures, and such – but they do provide extra enjoyment outside of the main game-play (and you can skip each puzzle, if you like).
Another beef is some confusing items to find. In one scene you had to find a “sound storage medium” with clues like “analog” and “music” but when I clicked on the tape deck it was incorrect – instead a vinyl record was hiding behind a bucket. In another instance, it said “traveling bag” and so I clicked on a stuffed backpack but the correct item was a suitcase. These aren’t huge issues but might frustrate some players.
Mystery Stories: Berlin Nights is also a very long game. While there’s 20 main environments, you’ll visit them a couple of times each, with different items to find and puzzles to solve. In total, the main Story mode offers 74 levels, while the Free Play mode adds another 20 (totaling 94 in all). Fortunately, the quality also matches the quantity, so fans of hidden object games should get a kick out of this story-driven adventure.