Combining hidden object games with well-known literary works is a popular trend today – whether it’s classic Agatha Christie yarns or more contemporary works, such as James Patterson novels – and now players get to click through Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic 19th century tales.
If you’re unfamiliar with Poe’s most famous works, such as "The Raven" or "Tell-Tale Heart," then you also might be unaware the cause of his death in 1849 still remains a mystery today. The author and poet was found walking around the streets of Baltimore, rambling to himself, and wearing clothes that were not his own. He died four days later at Washington College Hospital.
In the game, you’re a famous mystery writer and with the help of a supernatural pocket watch, you’re transported to Poe’s haunting tales in order to find his murderer. You see, Poe’s soul can’t rest until his death is avenged and only you can help him. The game is full of macabre imagery pooled from Poe’s works, and to crack the 160 year-old case you’ll find objects, collect clues and talk with witnesses, such as his doctor or love interest, to try and deduce who the killer is.
Much of the game-play will be familiar to "HOG" fans. You’ll click around an indoor or outdoor scene, littered with objects, and must find all the objects listed at the bottom of the screen. Every scene will have a mix of object names (example: "skull," "candle" or "5 footprints") as well as clues to objects, such as "unlucky number" (number 13) or "portable steps" (ladder). You can also find black crows, which will help you find objects if stuck, but if you click incorrectly too many times, a hissing black cat appears to scare off the crows (hints) and you’ll have to wait a little while before using hints again.
Each scene has some basic adventure game-like puzzles, too, that use items in your inventory (relevant objects you find are automatically placed here). For example, to reveal a secret map, you’ll use a corkscrew to open a bottle, insert rolled parchment and shake. Or you might need to light a fire, find a buried object in the sand or scrub statues to read engraved words etched in the stone.
Visually speaking, Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy is beautifully dark and mysterious, featuring some animated story sequences and in-game effects (such as blowing leaves or rippling water), plus the macabre music and sound effects also contribute to the overall immersion.
Mini-games peppered throughout the tale are mostly logic and deduction based, such as matching objects based on clues, rotating gears and dials, or figuring out the placement on an item on a grid by processions of elimination.
As fun as the game is, it’s not perfect. For one, on more than one occasion I’ve clicked on objects based on the word or hint below, but there was more than one solution, which just isn’t fair. For example, on three separate occasions I clicked on a "newspaper," "bottle" and "currency" but was wrong because there was something else on the screen that matched the word. At other times, I clicked on a veil for "head covering" but it was a hat instead, a book for "paper" (but was a scroll) and pitcher for "fetches water" but was a pail. You get the idea.
Also, hurting the game’s replayability is the fact there’s only one game mode and the objects are always at the same spot on the screen each time you play.
That being said, Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy will likely satiate fans of HOGs – even if they’re not familiar with Poe’s literary works or mysterious death. Give this one a try and be sure to dim the lights and turn up the speakers!