Anna is back! What began in the previous Curse of the Pharaoh games – The Quest for Nefertiti and Napoleon’s Secret – continues in Tears of Sekhmet. Anna is once again squaring off against her step-brother Will, who wants to control the power of the Curse as much as she wants to destroy it. It’s a dangerous game she’s playing, where no-one can be trusted and nothing is as simple as it seems.
This time around, she has to locate the seven Tears of Sekhmet, which have been hidden around the world. To reach each one, she’ll have to search a wide variety of locations and use the items she finds to solve a number of puzzles. You’ll be provided with a list of ten items for each hidden object sequence, which will likely include an item that you’ll later use to solve a puzzle.
At least one item in virtually every scene is missing some key component that you’ll replace with an item found somewhere else. Rejoining the pieces will sometimes open new locations or sometimes just clear the stage. The hidden object portions of Tears of Sekhmet are lovely, hand drawn art, but aren’t terribly difficult. Far more satisfying are the game’s many "find the difference" sections, which can be cunningly subtle. Though some differences are blatantly obvious, others are so nuanced and small that you can be staring right at them and still not realize something’s off.
The items on your list aren’t all you’ll be looking for, though. You must also find the pieces of mask that have been hidden in each level, as well as three coins in each stage. They’re usually extremely obvious and easy to find, which makes finding them feel more like game-padding busywork than a challenge. But Tears of Sekhment has other ways of messing with you, like filling the screen with water or flipping an image for a spot-the-difference level. Fortunately, you can buy helpful items in the store, like oxygen tanks and mirrors, to help you through the rough spots.
You may want to brush up on your Egyptology before taking a crack at Tears of Sekhmet‘s hidden object sections, which rely heavily on items like Ankhs, statues of Anubis, and canopic jars. If you don’t know what those are – and don’t feel like consulting Wikipedia – you can use one of the plethora of hints that are at your disposal. You start off with just a handful, but catching Wapi as he peeks into the scene earns you another one, and you can buy yet more hints at the game’s store for just three coins apiece.
And this is the one area where Tears of Sekhmet stumbles – it’s just too easy to get help. You have no choice but to collect every coin in the game – you can’t move on to the next stage until you do – so before too long your wallet is stuffed to bursting. Even after you’ve bought every last power-up in the store, you’ll still have more than enough cash to buy your way out of any problem you might encounter. Of course, just because you have them doesn’t mean you have to use them, but knowing that you’re a single click away from being given the answer does sap some of the joy out of the challenge.
Curse of the Pharaoh: Tears of Sekhmet is a gorgeous game with loads to do and is so polished it practically gleams. If you enjoyed Anna’s previous adventures, you’re certain to like this one, too, but don’t feel like you have to backtrack; you can pick up the story here and have no trouble at all. The game does a wonderful job of quickly bringing you up to speed on the story and letting you get on with the fun stuff. It’s a bit easier than you might like, but it’s so beautifully done that you won’t really mind.