Christmas really is a magical time of year. The gently falling snow, the glittering lights among the wreaths, the cackling madman outside the window casting a spell to turn people into toys. What a holiday, right? Christmas Stories 3: Hans Christian Andersen’s Tin Soldier places you in the role of an unknown helper who shows up to restore the spirit of the season, all while scampering after mischievous box trolls in the crisp evening light.
Tin Soldier elegantly blends hidden object scenes, adventure sections, and mini-games in a near perfect mixture of casual gaming bliss. You’ll embark on your adventure in the cold snowy night, sifting through house and town as you search for items to stuff your inventory with. There are quite a lot of puzzles to solve in the main section of the game, mainly because each one has a simple two step solution that doesn’t send you scrambling across the continent to find new things. Pick up items, use them where logical, then move on. Simple and satisfying.
Hidden object areas fight for your attention by including a number of little games inside each scene. You may be tasked with finding item pairs or simply ticking objects off a list, but either way you’ll have to manipulate pieces of the environment to see where your next target is hidden. Once you narrow things down to a few objects, you’ll often need to solve a brief mini-game or use a separate item to complete the scene. These take just a second or two to play out, but it’s amazing how special an added layer of interactivity can be in an otherwise static part of a game.
Not to be out-shined by the hidden object scenes or the main adventure, mini-games in Christmas Stories: Tin Soldier come in a massive variety of styles and levels of complexity. Whether you’re turning tiles to line up shapes or using a wooden crane to deliver tools to a carpenter, they always draw you in with a simple premise and keep you engaged with a fun execution.
Tin Soldier wouldn’t be nearly as charming if it didn’t take place during the Christmas season. The visuals are gorgeous on their own, but with the holiday theme they seem even more engaging. The shining lights, the silent toys, the grubby little trolls who keep showing up to spoil your fun. Everything looks phenomenal. If you weren’t already in the mood for Christmas, Tin Soldier will make it so.
It’s hard to find fault in a game like Christmas Stories. Everything is so well balanced and enjoyable you just kind of keep playing without realizing you skipped dinner. There’s plenty of extra content to keep you busy, and the story is the perfect mix of lightheartedness and drama. No matter the holiday season, Christmas Stories 3: Hans Christian Andersen’s Tin Soldier is a game that deserves some attention.