Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure is the sequel to Gogii Games’ popular hidden object game Escape the Museum. This time, Susan travels to five different regions around the world in search of archaeological treasures. Well-integrated inventory puzzles, polished production values, and a good hint system all add to the pleasures of this untimed game.
In Escape the Museum, Susan and her daughter were trapped in the City Museum during an earthquake. This time, Susan goes out in the field as she follows clues in a mysterious journal to find hidden treasures from everyone from Blackbeard to Napoleon.
The artwork is just about perfect for a hidden object game. Objects are in proportion and generally relate to the scene they’re in. There are a few dark spaces, but since one of the tools is an Object Finder, most players should be able to find everything eventually once they learn how to use it. Music and sound effects are excellent.
It’s not all perfect. The cutscenes are a little blurry, and the characterization of Susan is very odd. Although she’s an archaeologist, she thinks nothing of smashing ancient vases or cutting apart antique books. She also steals artifacts from other people’s museums and dig sites, apparently without realizing that she’s breaking the law. Basically, if she sees something, no matter where it is, she thinks she’s “discovered” it and can do whatever she wants to with it, including smashing it to bits. This makes the story the weakest part of the game, as she’s just not believable as an archaeologist. That’s a shame, because the character was very well done in the original game in the series.
Gameplay is smooth and balanced, although not always intuitive. For example, in one location you must put together pieces of a Mayan calendar. It’s easy to see that you put a piece on the drawing and rotate it to the correct position. But then no matter which piece you pick second, it won’t stay on. This becomes quite frustrating until you realize you have to go back to the first piece and “click it to stick it.” It doesn’t pop into place automatically.
The same kind of thing occurs elsewhere in the game. You may have to use a drill on a bolt several times before it comes loose, or drag a piece into place rather than merely click on a destination. All these actions mimic the real world better than most adventure games, but they do take a little getting used to.
We want to congratulate Gogii Games on having the first acceptable use of “dusting” we’ve seen—and we’ve seen some bad choices in this regard in recent games! Here you dust only one small area of a scene, much as a real archaeologist would. It makes sense with the story and it’s a good variation from the smash/burn options of the other tools.
There are no minigames. There is one sandpipe puzzle and several inventory tasks that take logic to figure out. There are also some trial and error sequence tasks. But since there’s no timer, most players should be able to complete these comfortably. Some players may require a walkthrough if they get stuck in a few places, but overall the tasks are challenging without being frustrating.
The game also does a great job of balancing hidden object and inventory tasks in each scene. Every Find List includes straight Find objects, which are in tan, and objects that require an inventory task, which are in blue. With the exception of Susan’s desire to smash everything in sight, inventory tasks are meaningful to the scene and the story. The inventory tasks are a level above most of the games in this genre, as many require two or three steps to complete, and utilize both fixed and inventory objects.
We did have a minor issue with the instructions. Many players won’t realize that they have to click on the Geocache tab to see riddles for the bonus items, or understand the usefulness of the journal clues. The Object Finder is also not well explained. None of these affect the main gameplay, but they’re nice features, and we would have liked to see more players aware of them.
Our biggest complaint is the length. With only five regions, the game offers fewer than 30 levels in the main story. There is good replayability since you can go back with new Find Lists once the story is complete, but that’s not quite the same thing. Although the story has a satisfying ending, we feel 7 or 8 regions would have made it more comparable with other top-ranked HOGs.
Still, with its combination of excellent graphics, well-balanced hidden object and inventory tasks, and meaningful challenges, Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure is definitely one of the better HO/adventure games to come out this year.