Casino-themed hidden object game for Slingo fans.

I’m going to make this real easy for you. Do you like Slingo? Check out Slingo Mystery 2: The Golden Escape. Don’t like it? Think twice. Not sure what Slingo is? Then read on, my friend, and prepare yourself for a descent into a fast-paced, cutthroat world that’s neither slots, nor bingo – but Slingo.

I’d never even heard of Slingo before Slingo Mystery 2 showed up so I prepared myself with a little research by reading Gamezebo’s review of the original Slingo Mystery. It sounded wacky, it sounded wild, half-baked but filled with potential. With high hopes I fired it up, and about four hours later, when it was finally all over, I realized two things: that I knew far more about Slingo than I ever expected to, and that for the most part I had just played exactly the same game I’d read about in that year-old review.

 The Golden Escape

As the game opens you’ll meet Maggie Gold, the heroine of the original Slingo Mystery who wasn’t actually so much a heroine as she was the woman who robbed her ex-husband’s casino after their inequitable divorce. In Slingo Mystery 2, her ex, Freddie, has died and left her everything, except it turns out he’s not dead at all and a greasy FBI agent is threatening to repossess everything she owns and throw her in jail unless she helps bring him in. Faced with little choice, she agrees and soon finds herself aboard a huge casino cruise ship with her old partner-in-crime Kyle and an assortment of other generic forgettables, where she decides to put the screws to the feds and rob Freddie blind once and for all.

The game plays out as a series of unconnected chapters, each taking place in a single room in which you’ll find some hidden objects and maybe solve a puzzle or play some Slingo before moving on to the next. The locations are near-photo-realistic, while the characters are hand-drawn in a relatively simple, comic-book style. It’s incongruous but in a strange way, it actually works; the exaggerated expressions on the faces of the characters and their calm, pleasant demeanor even in the face of complete disaster gave the proceedings a goofy charm that I really came to enjoy.

The same goes for the soundtrack. I’m not even sure what to call it, but it’s this sort of 70s-inflected, disco-muzak fusion that you might expect to accompany a smooth operator with a big mustache and a leisure suit as he hits the down-on-their-luck singles circuit. It’s hard to describe but I can’t deny that once I got used to it, I really rather liked it. The voice acting works in much the same way, although at first glance it comes across as mostly just awful. It’s hard to tell if Maggie’s slow, breathless line reading is meant to make her sound sexy, ditzy or just heavily medicated, but as the game progressed, and particularly after the arrival of Maggie’s sinisterly cheerful feminine foil, I began to wonder if what I was experiencing was not a bad game, but a smart, silly parody of cheesy heist movies and hidden object games.

 The Golden Escape

The problem is that as much fun as the possibly-parody parts are (and your mileage may vary in that regard), the game itself is nothing special. Not the Slingo bits, which are a blast if you like that sort of thing, but everything else that stitches those Slingo bits and the underlying narrative together. The game can be played in either Easy or Hard mode, with the difference being that in Easy mode the cursor changes to a different style of pointer whenever it crosses a hidden object, but even Hard, in which the cursor offers no such hints, is laughably easy. Hidden object searches generally involve only one to six items and the scenes are so clean and uncluttered that the vast majority of them are lying right out in the open and are no harder to find than, say, the “Back” button on your browser. The few objects that are tricky to find are usually that way only because they’re rendered so ridiculously tiny or blended into the background as to be virtually invisible.

Puzzles are very few and far between but are similarly simple. There are a couple of trial-and-error “push the buttons in the correct pattern” puzzles, a couple of preschool-level jigsaws, and that’s about it. You’ll be guided step-by-step through all of the various problem-solving segments, so something like trying to figure out how to escape a flooding storage room is simply a matter of clicking on objects when the game tells you to. It’s the video game equivalent of paint-by-numbers.

Much like the first Slingo Mystery, characters in Slingo Mystery 2 like Kyle and the “random old man” turn up out of nowhere, with no explanation as to who they are or why they’re here. The “Aha!” button recharges fairly quickly, but in an interesting twist it resets to zero at the start of each new object search, so you’ll have to wait for it to charge up before you can get your first hint. If you don’t have the patience, the difficulty mode can be switched on the fly so you can hop into Easy mode and go pixel hunting for that last, tough-to-find object, then change back to Hard after you’ve stumbled over it.

The “Game Room” opens up once you’ve finished the adventure, which lets you play any of the Slingo machines whenever you want and is probably the best part of the whole thing. Which goes right back to what I said earlier: this is a game for Slingo fans. And even that’s a bit iffy, because people who just want to play Slingo may very well find the non-Slingo gameplay, which makes up most of Slingo Mystery 2, to be a tiresome drag. The characters, the voice acting and the story all have an air of tongue-in-cheek playfulness, but it’s wasted on dull gameplay that’s so easy as to be almost entirely pointless. Slingo lovers might have a good time with this one, but as a hidden object adventure, it’s hardly worth the bother.