Archeologist Kate Miller is pulled into an ancient mystery on a secluded tropical island

Ancient Secrets: Mystery of the Vanishing Bride sends you on a journey to an exotic desert island to help an old colleague search for a missing student. As Dr. Kate Miller, you’ll investigate the disappearance and discover the island you’ve come to hides far more than a missing research assistant. Bargaining with the locals, exploring ancient ruins and solving strange puzzles, you’ll “dig” for the answers to an age-old mystery.

When beautiful Kate Miller (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Charlize Theron) gets an urgent call from her ex-fiancée Stephen urging her to come to a remote desert island, she’s predictably resistant. She’s in the middle of researching her specialty, the Tekkan people, and doesn’t have time for an ex’s shenanigans. Even so, she hops into a plane and lands in the Kuhna Islands just in time to find Stephen has disappeared. She then sets out to explore the islands, talking to the locals and hunting for clues to what might have happened to Stephen and his assistant.

While Ancient Secrets: Mystery of the Vanishing Bride has some of the spooky and arcane elements featured by many hidden object games, it differs mainly in its hot, tropical setting. As Kate your search takes you to sun-drenched beaches, cool, green-lit jungles and shadowy ruins echoing with the voices of civilizations long gone. Along the way you’ll collect ingredients for a shaman’s ritual, repair complex equipment MacGyver-style with various odds and ends and challenge the local tribal chief to mini-games in order to obtain much-needed tools. You’ll also bounce back and forth between the islands and your office by alternating between playing as the good doctor herself and as a helpful friend at the university.

While much about the game will likely be very familiar to hidden object players, its narrative is compelling enough to keep you on the hook. Even better, the storyline’s unexpected twists create interesting opportunities for new hidden object scenes and set the stage for an ending that’s as satisfying as it is surprising. The game’s main strengths are its lush environments and interesting puzzles. From a sandy tribal village to an abandoned lighthouse, from a dizzying cliffside overlook to a primordial garden, everything is bright, colorful and beautifully hand-painted. The game’s puzzles take some thought to solve and they make good use of the tropical context as well as the idea of ancient tribal magic.

While there’s no question the game has some good things going for it, it also has a few things that could be better. The best hidden object adventures these days come to life thanks to the use of talented voice actors. Ancient Secrets: Mystery of the Vanishing Bride has no voice and relies entirely on text to convey conversation. The drama really loses something as a result, as do the characters. Also not quite up to par is the artwork used during the storytelling/cinematic sequences which compared to the in-game art, looks sloppy and hastily done. Finally, although for the most part, the puzzles are fun and sufficiently challenging, one or two of them make leaps of logic that without a handy hint button, would likely leave you searching the Internet for a detailed walkthrough.

Despite these issues, Ancient Secrets: Mystery of the Vanishing Bride is a solid hidden object game. Aside from taking you to untamed, foreign locales and testing your investigative skills, it lets you play Dr. Kate Miller—part Lara Croft, part Miss Marple—a smart, savvy, resourceful woman. Without doubt, Kate’s the perfect heroine and Ancient Secrets: Mystery of the Vanishing Bride is the perfect game for anyone who’s ever fantasized about becoming an archeologist and searching for priceless artifacts in dangerous, exotic places.