As FBI agent Claire Ellery, you’ve been called to a remote town to find three kidnapped girls. The local police don’t seem very happy to have your help, but someone begins leaving you a series of tarot cards leading you to the missing trio. In no time at all, you’ve found the girls, the police are calling it case closed and sending you home. So begins the hidden object game Strange Cases: The Tarot Card Mystery.
Despite the local constabulary’s eagerness to be rid of you, you decide to continue investigating, guided by your mysterious informant who continues to leave a trail of tarot cards for you to follow. Calling them tarot cards is a bit misleading, really; they’re just cards with blue, red, or green backs that are left at every scene you must search. One or more cards are hidden in each location, and their color corresponds to the kind of search you’ll have to conduct. Blue cards provide a typical hidden object list of items for you to find; to clear a red card, you must reassemble an object by finding all of its pieces; and green cards offer silhouettes of items hidden in the area. Some cards are unreachable when you first enter a location, requiring you to complete an action like unlocking a chest or using a tool to obtain them.
During your searches, you’ll find key items that you’ll need to clear puzzles. Your cursor will turn into gears when you mouse over an area that needs some kind of action taken, and the solution is usually fairly obvious. When confronted with a locked door or broken wires, you’ll swiftly realize that you need to track down keys or insulated tape. There are a few instances where your goal isn’t immediately obvious, but the game will flat-out tell you what you need to find in order to solve the problem, so you’re never left guessing.
In addition to the environmental puzzles, The Tarot Card Mystery offers a few mini-game puzzles , too. These are a hodgepodge of familiar games, such as sliding tiles to free a key, rearranging wires to connect power sources, and assembling jigsaw puzzles. They’re all very nicely done and even include a few new games like lockpicking, but you can also skip them if you’d rather not be bothered.
The Tarot Card Mystery is a very relaxed hidden object game. Your progress isn’t timed, and you have an endless supply of recharging hints at your disposal. Your only penalty for clicking like a maniac is your cursor spinning for a brief interlude. It’s also not terribly difficult. Though a few of the puzzles can be challenging – one particularly clever one late in the game may stump more than one player – keen-eyed players should have no trouble finishing it in just two or three hours. You’re also very likely to complete it in just one sitting, because the story is intriguing enough to keep you playing to find out what happens next. You’ll more than likely guess the ending before it happens, but it’s enjoyable, just the same.
Your time with Strange Cases: The Tarot Card Mystery, brief though it may be, will be well spent. The locations are all quite beautifully drawn, and though the hidden object sequences aren’t terribly difficult, solving the various environmental puzzles is quite satisfying. Even the background music is pleasant. It’s the perfect HOG for anyone looking to just kick back and relax.