The Tudors is a hidden object game based on the television drama of the same name that follows the reign of Henry VIII, the English king best known for founding the Anglican church and having six wives, two of whom were eventually beheaded.
The game starts right after King Henry has wed his third wife, Jane Seymour a mere two weeks after the execution of his second wife, Anne Boleyn. You play a young maiden named Elena Sedgrave who gets caught up in palace intrigue. After she saves the life of one of Henry’s men, the king asks her to accompany her father William Sedgrave on various diplomatic missions to the other kingdoms of Europe, where she is to serve as the king’s personal spy.
Throughout the game’s 18 chapters, Elena’s job is to covertly snoop around her hosts’ living quarters to dig up dirt that might be of interest to the king. Often this involves searching rooms to find all of the objects on a list, and using certain items to solve puzzles. In one, for example, there is a key concealed inside a wax statue and you have to figure out how to melt the wax to get the key to unlock the next area. Occasionally you’ll get to play a mini-game or a spot-the-difference puzzle too.
The game can be played in normal or relaxed modes. In normal you play with a timer and earn points, while relaxed mode is untimed, but you earn no points.
The Tudors certainly does a nice job of immersing the player in a convincing tale of political intrigue and backstabbing that could have been lifted right out of the TV show. The settings, musical soundtrack and graphics – which feature still renditions of several recognizable characters from the show including Henry himself – also stay true to the source material.
In terms of gameplay, the game falls a little short, falling into several common traps for hidden object games. Sometimes the objects to find are too vague, such as when you’re asked to find a list of "ingredients," which could turns out to be an assortment of vials and pouches. Some of the items too small too and indistinct, which is hard on the eyes — especially in the scenes where you have to put little blurry pieces of something back into the scene in the correct place. Because certain items are indistinct and blend too well into the background, it can be confusing to know which items can be picked up to help you solve a puzzle, especially when you have to move between more than one room to find search for the objects, which is something that happens frequently. Some of the tasks repeat themselves too, like having to search for bottles of medicine.
The hint system, which is offers unlimited hints with an approximately 30 second recharge, is very good. When you have to move between rooms to find objects, such as "something that can pry open a door," using a hint will actually show you a picture of the item you need to find with a little bit of the background so you can more easily pinpoint the correct room that you’re supposed to be looking in
Mini-games, which include mixing potions, picking locks and putting together jigsaw puzzles, can all be skipped if the player chooses. The potion-mixing game lacked clear instructions, but actually proved uniquely challenging once I figured out what to do. Another fun diversion was when Elena got to practice her hand at thieving by swapping out more expensive items in the scene for items of lesser value from her inventory. I wish the game had offered more of these kinds of challenges instead of it being a fun one-off.
Overall, fans of the television show on which The Tudors is based will be more likely to put up with this hidden object game’s foibles than players who have never seen the show. Definitely a try before you buy.