It looks romance is the latest trend in hidden object games. The Dream Day series may have been out for a while, but no other lovey dovey stories came out until now, when they’ve started popping up in Harlequin Presents: Hidden Object of Desire, Romance of Rome and Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box, and others. Broken Hearts: A Soldier’s Duty has no fighting chance of being a top contender, but it fits right in with the rank and file.
Maria Lopez enjoys the wedding of her dreams as she marries David Fox, who is in the military. As soon as the honeymoon is over, though, it’s truly over. The couple fights when David receives a dangerous assignment. The two separate with hateful words. Soon after, two soldiers appear on Maria’s doorsteps with bad news.
She tries to keep her mind occupied by keeping busy, playing solitaire and connecting with Sergio, an old high school friend. He helps her deal with her grief, or so she thinks. She tries to stay busy by doing different activities such as going to the beach, riding on a boat, working at the flower shop. When she arrives at a destination, you look for hidden objects by category. Every scene contains two categories with five objects in each.
The game takes a different approach to the point-and-click adventure aspect of the game. Rather than you figuring out what to do, you receive a to-do list such as "prepare the fireplace" and "start the fire." You can’t start the fire until you do all the things to prepare the fireplace including finding logs, a newspaper and matches.
As you find objects, you gain hearts, which you can use to unlock a solitaire game. Broken Hearts: A Soldier’s Duty comes with five solitaire games whose purposes are to reward you with more hearts. After completing two scenes, the story provides an update.
If you get stuck, and it can happen often, you can get a hint for an object’s name. If that doesn’t work, you can get another hint that shows the object’s outline. Still nothing? The next hint shows exactly what it looks like. Still give up? The last hint puts a circle on the screen to give you an idea of where the object is located. You need to wait a few moments before you can use the next hint type. While the hint system is creative, it turns tiresome and frustrating when it takes four steps to finally locate the item, especially the confusing ones. Plus, you lose hearts in the process.
You can win lots of awards. Every level comes with seven awards based on speed, accuracy and hints avoided. On top of that, you can earn achievements for every chapter.
Categories sound like a good idea, but they can be irritating when they include objects that don’t sound like a fit for the category. For example, "Optical" includes binoculars, telescope and glasses. So where does a film reel fit in? Or you have no idea of what items belong to a category like "décor." Not only that, you deal with perplexing or too-well-hidden objects. For example, a sponge turns out to be a tiny yellow square that appears in a painting.
When you finish the game, you can play again in two different modes. It’s still the same story, but you can up the challenge to "hard" that requires collecting more hearts and turn up the volume with "insane," which doesn’t have hints. You might see new items on the second go around and sometimes the objects change. However, you revisit some scenes and might encounter most of the objects by the time you finish the game the first time. You can also replay any level to try to get a better score and win more awards.
The game has as few typos, grammar gaffes and punctuation problems. Once instance uses "to" instead of "too." Lots of needed commas and apostrophes are missing. The dialogue may be too much for some folks and no skipping is available, but you can fast forward through it. Not everyone likes solitaire, too, and the card games don’t do anything for you except get you more hearts. Besides, the card games need usability improvements as it feels tedious to move the cards around.
Broken Hearts: A Soldier’s Duty offers a change of pace from the lists found in most hidden object games. Players of all levels will be challenged, but it can frustrate the average player with its tricky items and to-dos. The game has a decent story, graphics and game play time. The game could’ve been something a little more, however, if it had spent more time in basic training.