Meteorites never bring good news.
No one has ever seen a falling meteor and thought “now there’s a good omen!”. The residents of Meteorite Island certainly didn’t, and years after the event they still struggle with clan disputes and unexplained events. Phenomenon: Meteorite places you in the shoes of Daniel, a young man whose destiny is to find his parents, dig into the island’s past, and see if he can restore peace to its people once again.
When Daniel was a boy, his family fled from Meteorite Island and left him with foster parents. He never knew much about his past, but the day he turned 25 he received a note that directed him back to the island where his parents would be waiting. As soon as he arrived he learned of the terrible clan wars between the island’s people, met a cute/creepy girl who served as his guide, and learned that the inhabitants of the island have mystical powers. Powers that he, too, possessed!
Phenomenon: Meteorite is a careful blend of adventure and hidden object elements sprinkled with plenty of puzzles and mini-games. You’ll spend most of your time wandering through small sections of the island, hunting for objects you can use to solve the area’s unusual puzzles. The game keeps a handy journal to plot important events, and it also features a quick travel map and a convenient task list to make sure you always know what to do and where to do it.
The hidden object scenes in Phenomenon: Meteorite are one of the highlights of the game. You’re presented with the standard scene littered with items, complete with a list of things to find stashed below. Certain items will be shown in red, denoting that you’ll need to solve a mini-puzzle before collecting them. This may be as simple as using a knife to cut a rope, or it may be less obvious and involve lighting a piece of dynamite to blow open a chunk of rock concealing something inside. Either way, they’re pretty creative and add a nice bit of spice to the puzzles.
What really makes hidden object scenes stand out, though, are the Association Finder and the Time Portal. While peacefully searching for items, your cursor will occasionally change and allow you to activate one of these special modes. With the Association Finder, a small device appears in the center of the screen with jumbled letter tiles lined up below. Unscramble them to spell a word that’s related to an item you need to find, such as spelling out MUSIC when you’re looking for a guitar. The Time Portal is activated when the cursor turns into a clock and actually shifts you back in time for a few moments. Here, the item list will be different and pieces of the scenery will be moved around, doubling the time you’ll spend working with hidden objects, but also providing some much-needed variety.
Phenomenon’s graphics are slightly above average, certainly nothing to turn your nose at, but the voice acting has more than a few cringe-worthy moments. A lot of the puzzles come off as contrived, such as the very early “obstacle” of a little bit of smoke blocking your path. As anybody who’s ever gone camping knows, smoke may be unpleasant but it’s certainly no reason to halt your world-saving journey of self-discovery…
When all is said and done, Phenomenon: Meteorite delivers a great puzzle package with hidden object scenes that go the extra mile to keep you entertained. The story and setting are secondary to the gameplay, but the experience keeps you hooked from the beginning to the very end.