PassionFruit Games, a brand new casual gaming studio founded by former members of Her Interactive, has announced that its debut title will be a romance-themed hidden object game based on the novel "Tiger Eye" by New York Times bestselling author Marjorie M. Liu. Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box will be available for both PC and Mac in April, 2010.

"The majority of casual gamers are women aged 25-65, who report they play casual games mainly to escape," said Melissa Heidrich, Studio Director, PassionFruit Games. "Interestingly, those same attributes apply to romance novel readers – so it’s surprising that there are currently so few romance casual games on the market. That’s why we’re excited to bring Tiger Eye to life as interactive entertainment."

The "Tiger Eye" novel tells the story of Dela, a woman with psychic abilities who buys a riddle box in Beijing’s Dirt Market and opens it to find an ancient warrior, Hari, bound to serve as a slave to the person who has opened the box.  The action moves between China and the U.S., and PassionFruit Games will mirror this international scope through two games, the first to take place in China and the second in the U.S.  PassionFruit Games also plans to involve readers in the release of Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box with the chance for a select few fans to be Beta testers and with fan voting on looks for the character, Long Nu.

Fans will be able to search for hidden objects, play mini-games, and solve puzzles, all the while following the storyline as the main characters’ relationship deepens emotionally and grows in intimacy, though there will not be explicit sex scenes.

"There just aren’t many romance games in today’s market. And, for many women, romance novels are not interactive enough. That’s where we come in – we are giving players a chance to experience the romance through fun gameplay and sensual cut scenes that further the relationship," said Mari Tokuda, one of the designers translating Marjorie’s novel into game form.

"This game will really appeal to players who want a storyline and those who want to BE the smart, down-to-earth romance novel heroine.  And of course, we’ll have a sexy leading man heavily featured in the game.  A game like Tiger Eye is one of the most engaging ways for readers to experience characters’ relationships."

Author Marjorie M. Liu is best known for her Dirk & Steele and Hunter Kiss series’, and for co-authoring the Dark Wolvering Marvel comic book series. According to PassionFruit Games, Liu herself wrote the script for the game and has been involved with the game every step of the way, giving input on scene art, character design and voice actor selection through regular video conferences with the producers. As well, all members of the team, from artist to programmer, read the "Tiger Eye" novel, as well as other novels in the Dirk & Steele universe, to get a feel for the essence of the game. 

"I was amazed by the beautiful cinematic cut scenes and the way players could actually experience things my characters had done," said Liu. "It’s an incredible feeling to not only see favorite characters brought to life but to experience life through their eyes as you progress through the game."

Players can preorder the Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box $6.99 standard package, which includes instant download of the game’s opening cinematic, "Dela’s Dream," and a link to download the game when it releases in April.

Players will also have the option to choose the $9.99 premium package, which includes "Dela’s Dream" and a link to the game when it goes on-sale in April; but also features the MP3 of the Tiger Eye theme film-quality soundtrack; concept art of the male heart throb, Hari; exclusive wallpaper art; and a PDF of the official strategy guide.

Prior to founding PassionFruit Games, the team members also worked on the critically-acclaimed Nancy Drew Dossier series at Her Interactive.