Shedding a little light on the adventure game genre.

Willow Ridge isn’t doing so well these days. The trees have come to life and are keen on destroying the town and its inhabitants. And with the lighthouse busted, there’s no source of cleansing light to keep the monsters at bay. It’s time to strap on your Save the World Boots and get to work in Rite of Passage: Child of the Forest, an extremely well-made adventure from Mad Head Games.

Rite of Passage: Child of the Forest drops you in a series of small areas to wander around in, each packed with items to find, puzzles to solve, and points of interest to investigate. Exploration is often punctuated with mini-games and hidden object scenes, both of which are well-constructed and intricately tied to the game’s setting and story. Child of the Forest never breaks character, lending an air of believability to the tale it tells. It has a rich backstory that’s slowly unveiled as you play; just in case the fantastic puzzles weren’t enough to keep you interested!

Rite of Passage: Child of the Forest

Interactive inventory objects are one of Child of the Forest’s most entertaining features. Items you collect will be stored in a bar near the bottom of the screen, as you might expect. If there’s a glowing plus sign next to something, that means you can click on the item for a closer view. While zoomed in, you can interact with these objects in different ways, such as lighting a lighter, bending a clothes hanger to a more useful shape, sharpening a pencil, or even solving a short mini-game. This really improves the normally stale exploration segments found in adventure games, by eliminating the need for so many distracting side quests or other diversions.

Apart from working through the game’s puzzles, Rite of Passage: Child of the Forest features a few bonuses that add an additional layer of challenge. Hidden object scenes present you with fragmented pieces of items to find in crowded scenes, but are otherwise pretty straightforward. Several dozen acorns are hidden throughout the game, for example, encouraging you to keep an eye out for these optional extras. Even better is a list of 20 achievements to work towards: many of them involving some great feats of fast puzzle-solving strength.

Rite of Passage: Child of the Forest

One unfortunate side effect of Child of the Forest’s dense puzzle structure is that you’ll often find yourself feeling a bit caged in by all the blocked passageways sitting right in front of your eyes. It seems like no matter where you click your progress is halted, forcing you to back up and search previous scenes a little more thoroughly. The hint system isn’t quite as accurate as it should be, which can often leave you a little lost and clueless from time to time. Fortunately, the game isn’t so difficult that this becomes a common occurrence.

But apart from one or two minor flaws, Rite of Passage: Child of the Forest is nothing short of a brilliant game. It hits a great balance between storytelling, puzzle solving, and hidden object scenes, and it keeps the three very closely tied together at all times. And besides being a smartly-built game, it’s a very entertaining ride from beginning to end!