Hidden objects, hidden gnomes, and hidden fun.
Come in, come in from the cold rain! There’s nothing strange inside this old curiosity shop. Nothing at all. Not even a legend about seven gnomes who hold a mysterious treasure in a hidden chamber deep below Edward J. Smith’s estate! The Veil of Mystery: Seven Little Gnomes presents a setting split between a fairy tale and a dark and sinister world, all with plenty of hidden object scenes to keep your cursor on the move.
Things start off outside the manor and only get darker the deeper you go. The Veil of Mystery: Seven Little Gnomes is one of those increasingly rare games that features frequent hidden object scenes instead of long stretches of adventure-style gaming. That isn’t to say you won’t be trotting around investigating locked doors and picking strange items off the ground, but more often than not you’ll get the things you need by sifting through cluttered scenes. The gnomes bring with them handfuls of riddles to solve, which is another somewhat rare (but welcome) feature for a casual game.
Beyond the novel use of riddles, the high number of hidden object scenes, and a few clever story twists, The Veil of Mystery: Seven Little Gnomes doesn’t really do anything out of the ordinary. In fact, the hidden object scenes end up being one of the least interesting parts of the game. Each one features a standard list of items to hunt for, all of which are tucked away amidst the clutter of miscellany. You’ll spot plenty of out of place items that fit neither the game nor the location. You’ll also spot objects whose visual appearance doesn’t match what the list would suggest, leaving you to find a few things out of pure luck or liberal spamming of the hint button.
The interface in The Veil of Mystery: Seven Little Gnomes is another major stumbling point. Moving the cursor feels like dragging your mouse through the mud, making each click something you have to work for. Animations, especially scene fades, feel like they take forever to complete. This holds true when you’re moving from area to area, as well as zooming in on items, making you just a bit hesitant to really get out there and explore. The inventory bar also likes to stick to the bottom of the screen, and cursor-changing navigation arrows take their time showing you where you can walk. The lack of a snappy interface really hampers the game’s ability to entertain.
The Veil of Mystery: Seven Little Gnomes trips over a heaping handful of hidden object tropes, but it always picks itself right back up and presses on. That dogged determination shows in the gameplay, but it doesn’t quite save it from obscurity. The artwork may not be high-res or particularly stunning, but there’s a good deal of creativity in some of the location and character designs. Even the music hits some high notes, though over all you might find a few of the sound effects less than pleasing to the ears.
With a little dogged determination of your own, The Veil of Mystery: Seven Little Gnomes can offer up a good story and a fairly decent hidden object experience. If you’re not ready to buckle down and muscle through its faults, however, it might be best to let those gnomes stay hidden.