Kellie Stanford: Turn of Fate is a humorous adventure game with quirky cartoon graphics and some hidden object game play in the mix. Maybe it’s just the tropical music or the occasional monkey, but I was catching a clear Monkey Island influence towards the second half of the game, too.
The heroine of the story, Kellie, took a job at a film studio as a hair stylist in the hopes of achieving her dream of becoming a cinematographer. Little did she know that one single peculiar day would change the course of her life forever, as a series of odd events come together in a mystery involving gangsters, her estranged father, and a Yogi on a tropical island. The story is twisty and doesn’t always flow logically, plus it’s light on details, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.
The pressure is low, and the game is untimed. You can interact with the environment by opening doors or moving items, but you’re given automatic hints as you play, so things that can be manipulated will be highlighted with a mouseover. The same goes for items which you find in the scenes and can add to your inventory. There doesn’t seem to be any penalty for incorrect clicks, so click away.
Occasionally, inventory items must be combined, like using scissors and black dye on a wig which you need for a disguise. In these cases, the objects will be circled, so you simply need to click them. This removes a lot of the guesswork.
Some of the inventory puzzles are tricky. For example, it isn’t intuitive to use a key on a cuckoo clock, just to remove the gear to combine it with some nuts to lure out a rat…However, you should be able to figure things out yourself if you use the in-game hints. Most of the inventory puzzles are logical, despite a few odd ones (like the above) thrown in.
In an interesting twist, this is listed as a hidden object adventure on many game sites, but finding hidden objects is completely optional, and only integrated as part of the hint system. At any time, you can click on a light bulb near Kellie’s profile to get a hint regarding an inventory puzzle or game task. To earn extra hints, you can play hidden object scenes from the map screen. Technically, if you can beat the game without hints, there isn’t any dire need to do the object searches. They’re fun, though, so there’s no reason to avoid them either.
It’s exciting to play a hidden object game portion where you can really look for the objects without just clicking on things that stand out. Because you are shown silhouettes, there’s no ambiguity, and it’s a pleasure to find things. The objects are natural sized, not too large or too small, and everything is clearly drawn.
There are no hints for the HOG scenes, but you shouldn’t need them, since you can see an image of each object you need to find. On the downside, the hidden objects do repeat, and there aren’t a whole lot of HOG locations.
The real strength here is the mini-games, which have you doing unique and interesting things like putting makeup on Kellie using inventory cosmetic items, or navigating through her maze-like house with dim lighting to guide you. You also play a game like Connect 4, and a pearl catching game that is similar to Goldminer Deluxe. Each and every mini-game is remarkably smooth and intuitive to play. That’s something you can’t say about every game we review! The variety of minigames is also a definite strength. You can skip these minigames if you have 2 available hints, although you’ll be missing out on most of the fun.
The English can sometimes be awkward, so rigid grammarians might have cause to scowl. For example, Kellie says that Mike’s joke "caught her flatfooted," or that she heard "breaks" (something breaking) outside. It isn’t major, but it is noticeable, and some of the dialogue is stilted as a result.
While it’s a pleasure to play, for the most part it’s not very challenging. Everything is highlighted or prepared for you, so it’s simply a case of clicking in the right place at the right time. If you don’t play each and every hidden object scene, you can beat the game in just over two hours. Playing the HOG scenes lengthens the game play, but not substantially. The hidden object lists are randomized, so there is some replay value, but not a huge amount.
Kellie Stanford: Turn of Fate is a pleasant but short and simple adventure game. Strict hidden object fans might not find enough hidden object tasks to sustain their interest, but folks who enjoy the blended genre approach should find it plenty amusing. It’s not a game that will challenge you in any way, but it’s relaxing and fun to play.