The Lady of the Mountain is turning people into stone, but now that you’re here, you’ve got a gem or two to pick with her.
Wouldn’t you know it, out of gas. As your car putters to a halt you arrive at the seemingly abandoned gates of Stoneville. Historically known for its active mining operations, the valuable gems unearthed here are collected by the Lady of the Mountain. But now this “Stone Queen” is on a vengeful streak, turning residents into stone left and right. Guess you’ll have to put a stop to that!
Grim Tales: The Stone Queen follows a long line of Grim Tales games that to date includes Grim Tales: The Bride, Grim Tales: The Legacy, and Grim Tales: The Wishes. Loosely connected by plot details and sharing a lot of gameplay elements, developer Elephant Games has crafted a very good-looking and easily playable series that’s easy to get into, even if you haven’t played previous releases. You’ll miss out on some of the “whys” in the storyline, but otherwise feel free to dive right in wherever you like.
Getting through Stoneville to find the Queen is going to take some puzzle solving. She certainly hasn’t made matters easy for you, what with the walls of crystal, the broken buildings, and the barred doors at every turn. But puzzles are fun, and in The Stone Queen you’ll get to work your way through a number of multi-stage riddles that require various parts to operate. For example, early on you sift through Stoneville hunting for bronze coins. These coins open a glass case that provides you with a small gem-encrusted emblem, which in turn is one part of several that are used to complete other puzzles in the area. It adds a lot to the feeling of exploration, and since everything flows in such a logical path, you’ll never have to guess what goes where and when.
Once in a while you’ll encounter a small hidden object scene that provides you with an important item. On the whole, the scenes are pretty easy and only feature a dozen or so items to find, many of which are large and sitting right out in the open. A few assembling puzzles can be found, like using a corkscrew to open a bottle or replacing a chipped piece of porcelain to make a teacup, but otherwise it’s just you and the cursor, pecking away until your laundry list is complete.
Mini-games also dot the landscape in The Stone Queen. You’ll come across a few of the standard matching and swapping games from time to time, but the more interesting ones have you assembling machine parts or sliding runes around a tableau. Each game is perfectly tuned to give you a little pause before jumping in, but you’ll never be so utterly stuck that you’ll want to call it a day.
On the whole, The Stone Queen doesn’t stray from the standard hidden object formula too much. It has a much heavier emphasis on the adventure side of things, leaving item hunting as just another mini-game, but the experience flows well and features a well-written story to keep tugging you along. There are four chapters to complete in all, with a bonus chapter available as part of the collector’s edition. It will take a good three hours to complete the game, which feels like the perfect length, no artificial padding shoved in there to make it seem larger than it already is.
High quality presentation, a simple but smart storyline with several surprises waiting for you, and logical puzzles that draw you seamlessly from one area to the next. It’s hard to find fault with Grim Tales: The Stone Queen, so instead, just sit down and have a good time!