What if you were playing a seek-and-find game on the iPhone and you only had to look for one object that was hidden 200 times throughout a large house? What if that one item was a yellow star that stood out so much against the background that you just couldn’t miss it? Does that sound like fun to you? Well, I hate to say it, but it wasn’t much fun for me to play StarHunt by Cogniflame.
Probably the most disappointing thing about StarHunt is that its premise is solid. Your objective is to “hunt” around a big house rendered in 3D so you literally walk around every square inch of the place, which is a unique experience on the iPhone. The art is rendered well enough that you definitely get the feeling you’re exploring this beautiful, expansive dwelling, and you get the sense that you’re in for some ‘adventure’ style gameplay. Unfortunately, StarHunt never delivers on its promise.
First of all, there is very little “adventure” or hunting involved at all. You simply walk around and stumble upon yellow stars that are so obvious you’d have to be blind not to see them. The stars are yellow, and there are no other objects in the game that are yellow. For experienced hidden object game players, StarHunt would be absolutely no fun at all. The only adventure component to this exercise is that some of the doors in the house are locked, so you have to hunt around to find the right key before you can open the matching door. The developers must not have play-tested this game, because I think they would have found that people get bored and frustrated very quickly playing StarHunt.
To make matters worse, the controls are finicky and sometimes downright difficult. There are directional arrows that appear on the screen. Usually these arrows point in three directions: forward, left, and right. Sometimes they also point up or back (down). It is not entirely clear how these arrows work. I played the game for several hours, and I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I was doing to get my screen to move from one direction to the next. Sometimes it worked to “tap” or double tap near the arrow. Sometimes it worked to make contact with the arrow (in which case it would dissolve, but not always). Sometimes the arrow responded and sometimes not.
StarHunt can also give you a headache quickly if you have any trouble with directions. There is no “map” or blueprint that shows you where you are from room to room. The house is very big, so it is easy to get lost. I suppose that Cogniflame thought this feeling of being lost was part of the puzzle aspect of the game, but it just left me feeling frustrated. There is a very fine line between feeling challenged and feeling frustrated, and that is why it is so important for developers to have people play their games who have never played them before to get fresh opinions.
The music was pleasant and the sound effects were fair. Neither was anything spectacular or engaging. The graphics offer so much potential that it is truly sad that the game wasn’t designed to be more fun. Cogniflame obviously put a lot of effort into creating very well executed 3D artwork of a large mansion with a beautiful garden – it seems like every square inch is included.
If StarHunt was a real estate application where the objective is to take a virtual tour of a large house, I would have been very impressed indeed. However, since this application is being presented as a game, the ultimate measure of success is whether or not the player is entertained. I hunted around for a long time, and I couldn’t find any fun. I would recommend trying out the free version (StarHunt Lite) before you throw away a dollar. I will say that it might be fun for young children.