Travel through time to find the would-be assassin of the King of France
In the present day, you’re greeted by the ghost of Diane de Poitiers, mistress to the King of France in the 16th century. She calls for your help in saving her love and gives you an amulet capable of sending you back in time. In Amulet of Time: Shadow of la Rochelle, you’ll travel throughout 16th century France, unlocking the secrets behind the King’s attempted assassination, and unmasking those behind the conspiracy.
Amulet of Time is, first and foremost, a hidden object game. This is almost to a fault, as there are far more scenes to complete than environments to explore. Still, there’s a lot to do in the game, often requiring you to collect multiple items from a single scene that can be used elsewhere. The game employs a sort of living hidden object mechanic, where you’ll be given a large list of items that you need to collect (say, ingredients to a potion or materials for a dress) but then allows you to freely move about the game’s different environments to find them, rather than forcing you to find them within a single scene. Traditional HO scenes exist as well, with these being your average junkpiles. You can hover over items on your lists to see silhouettes of the items if you aren’t sure what to look for, and the hint system recharges quite quickly if you still need it.
Outside of scenes, you’ll complete a variety of puzzles and mini-games, with both basic puzzles (tile-sliding or swapping puzzles) and more intricate games being available here (like one that has you untangling threads for a dress).
Each location in the game is fairly separate from the rest, with only the occasional true backtracking being required to find keys, extra materials for potions and so on. For the most part however, you’ll be given tasks and can then complete them in the same location without a lot of roaming. You’ll also collect various elixirs as you progress, which glow in the corner of the screen when they need to be used. This adds a bit of modern technology to the game, as the elixirs sometimes serve as tools that simply wouldn’t be available in the 16th century.
Amulet of Time has a decent balance between period locations and characters (that is, living characters that will walk around the village) and apparitions or visions that will pop out in an attempt at an easy scare. There’s always the threat of a ghost or other evil being jumping out when you enter a location, but the majority of the game is bright and colorful all the same. It’s odd that you’re allowed to walk so freely amongst the people while investigating the plot to murder the king, as no one knows who you are, but the drama and danger does become more prevalent as you continue on in the game (by finding out who is responsible and then trying to stop them before it’s too late).
All told, Amulet of Time: Shadow of la Rochelle has an interesting storyline and nice graphics, but focuses a bit too much on hidden object scenes (some of which need to be repeated before you find everything of value therein). For the most part, the gameplay is a solid offering in the hidden object / adventure game genre, but there’s nothing truly extraordinary here. Still, if you like games set in the past and also enjoy a good murder mystery, this one is definitely worth playing.