Escape your fate and put lost souls to rest in ye olde London Town
In this newest installment in the lengthy Hidden Mysteries franchise, you’ll find yourself transported back to 1600’s London as a handmaiden to Queen Elizabeth. Your honor is questioned when the queen’s magical broach is stolen by another jealous servant and you’re sentenced to death within the Tower of London. Things go from bad to worse as the broach is used in a dark rite, unleashing the souls of past rulers and criminals alike. You’ll need to escape your dire fate and restore the broach to put these souls back to rest before it’s too late.
In Hidden Mysteries: Royal Family Secrets, your overall objective is to climb four large towers within Queen Elizabeth’s fortress to put the souls of major historical figures back to rest. This is accomplished via a lengthy combination of point-and-click adventuring and hidden object scenes, along with the occasional simplistic puzzle. The gameplay and graphics are standard for the genre, as you’ll investigate dozens of hotspots in the game’s many locations, and will use those items to complete tasks elsewhere.
Unfortunately the game’s ample environments are actually just as much of a negative as they are a positive, as you’ll spend far too much time backtracking through the same scenes time and time again to get anything done. There’s a helpful map feature that shows you which locations you’ve yet to complete, but it would have been nice if this also provided a fast-travel option. That being said, the game’s scope is also appreciated, as you’ll interact with not only the Tower of London, but also Westminster Abbey, the Globe Theater and much more.
With so many environments to explore, this leaves you to collect dozens of key items at once, filling your inventory to the brim and causing a bit of confusion as to which items you’ll need to use next. The gameplay is mostly linear, and there is a nice sense of satisfaction that arrives when your next task finally “clicks” and you can move on, but, again, the complexity of the game’s layout combined with the abundance of items at your disposal creates bouts of unnecessary difficulty even on the game’s casual setting.
As for the game’s puzzles, these are fairly simplistic, sometimes requiring basic math skills or asking you to solve a two-lined riddle. It would have been nice to see the puzzles be a bit more challenging, as it would help to break up the back and forth nature of the rest of the title (since you’d simply spend more time completing them), but they do function well enough in their current form.
Overall, you can easily spend upwards of three hours with Hidden Mysteries: Royal Family Secrets, but the sometimes unintuitive gameplay keeps it from being a truly stellar experience. If the map had allowed for fast-travel, or the hint mechanic had offered more true hints as to what you should do next, the possibility for confusion (or even frustration) could be lessened almost entirely. As it stands however, this is still a fairly enjoyable hidden object adventure, which should be experienced by those who know better than to expect perfection.