The Millers have gone missing. They were innocently planning their next hiking adventure when something malevolent entered the hotel, whisking them away to worlds unknown. There was a single witness to these events, and he summons you to the scene of the crime to do what you do best. It’s time to solve a supernatural mystery!
Mysteries of the Past: Shadows of the Daemon is a hidden object adventure that casts you in the role of a paranormal detective. You’ll explore the hotel and countryside one screen at a time, clicking on areas of interest to take a closer look, and picking up items you’ll need to put to use later. Most puzzles revolve around gaining access to blocked areas by prying open doors, moving around ladders, or getting rid of those vines that mysteriously (and quickly) sprung up all over the place. All the while you’ll stumble across strange clues that point to something way creepier than just a smoke monster and some hikers.
Mysteries of the Past switches between several classic hidden object scene styles, pressing at least two of them together each time you begin the hunt. For starters, there’s your standard text list of items, complete with highlighted objects you’ll need to interact with to locate. Next are put-back scenes that use items you found and challenge you to locate where they need to go. There’s even a challenging pair finding scene that plays out like a spot the difference puzzle, only in reverse! All of these move pretty quickly and don’t present much of a challenge, but it’s always fun to clean up a messy room.
The most interesting style of hidden object scenes involve grouped items. Several clusters of visual clues are displayed in boxes at the bottom of the screen. Each category contains several related items, such as the head, arms and torso of a doll. When you locate them all, the “find” label changes to “place”, at which point you must put the assembled object back into the scene, often solving a puzzle and getting a new item in the process.
Mysteries of the Past: Shadows of the Daemon gets everything right in terms of presentation. The graphics are fantastic, the sound and music really set the mood, and the voice acting will never make you cringe. It falters a bit when it comes to inventory puzzles, however. Most items have logical uses in the game, such as knives cutting ropes or ladders leading to higher platforms. Occasionally, though, you’ll sit and scratch your head over a solution, only to hit on the correct answer by trial and error. Who knew a shovel was so good at reaching far away items? This is mitigated somewhat by the game’s generous hint system, but that still doesn’t stop you from smacking into a puzzle wall every now and then.
Mysteries of the Past knows how to tell a good story, and it does so without skimping on the gameplay. It’s got all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a modern HOG, including a quick travel map, objective lists, timed mini-game skips, and a notebook that keeps track of important clues and story points. If you’re in the mood for a good spooky hidden object game, Shadows of the Daemon has got your back.