Family Mystery – The Story of Amy is a lovely and unique hidden object game in which a young woman, the titular Amy, is searching for answers about her past. Amy’s mother was eight months pregnant with her when she and Amy’s father were killed in an accident. Now Amy has returned to the house where her grandparents raised her to learn more about her family and herself.
Amy’s search for answers takes her to the one room of the house she was never allowed in – the attic – and a dusty photo album that she hopes will help her fill in the blanks of her own personal history. Each page of the album contains photos of a specific family member, along with brief descriptions that provide a window not just into the history of Amy’s family, but also of our country.
The beautiful hand-drawn photos are the hidden object segments and finding all the hidden items has a benefit beyond simply finishing the level. The photos begin as sepia tones, but as you locate items, the pictures slowly fill in with color. Once you’ve tracked down everything on the list, they’re colored in completely, to dramatic and stunning effect. The photos in Amy’s family album are just plain beautiful and practically worth the price of admission all on their own.
Interestingly, the game’s gorgeous hand-drawn art makes finding those hidden objects somewhat more difficult than you might expect. Although the items you’re looking for are ordinary enough – a fork, a bonnet, a drill – they’re drawn in an exaggerated, stylized way to better make them blend into the photo. The long, swooping strokes used to draw each objects can distort them to the point that it’s hard to tell what it is you’re looking at. Fortunately, you can choose to view your item list either by names of items or by pictures of the items themselves. Take my advice: use the pictures. Sometimes it’s the only way to know that the curvy collection of lines hidden in the woman’s skirt is meant to be a flower.
It’s difficult at first, but after you’ve gone through a few pages of Amy’s photo album, you’ll begin to get a feel for the art style and be able to more easily spot anomalies in the picture – even if you can’t quite figure out what item you’ve just found is. For those last few objects that you just can’t spot, you can use one of two hint options. The first is your standard hint, which highlights a concealed item with sparkles, but the second hint is a bit more fun. Choose it, and a soap bubble will slowly rise up from the bottom of your screen to trace its way across the photo. Watch its path carefully, because it’ll point out at least one hidden item as it lazily makes its way up the screen. Not the most efficient way to drop a hint, perhaps, but certainly one of the most fun.
Family Mystery may be tricky when it comes to hiding its objects, but at least it’s not stingy when it comes to handing out hints. When you complete a photo, you can play one of three minigames: quiz, doodle, or twister. The quiz asks you a single question either about the contents of the photo ("How many clowns are in the picture?"), or the period in history when the picture took place ("When was VE day?"). In doodle, you must click on 20 crayon doodles as they are added to the photo one by one. In Twister, you must click the box in the picture that corresponds with tiles that are being added to a bar on the right. If too many tiles get added to the bar before you find where they belong, you lose. Successfully completing any of the minigames earns you three hints, so you should have no trouble amassing quite a nice stockpile of help.
Family Mystery – The Story of Amy isn’t terribly long, but it is such high quality and so charming that you’ll enjoy the time you do get to spend with it.