You might be familiar with the fairy tale of Rapunzel and her long golden hair. What you might not be familiar with is the kingdom of Floralia, a mysterious pollen that’s making everyone sick, and the shadowy figure following the princess everywhere she goes. It’s an old fashioned Rapunzel tale done Dark Parables style, which means there’s more dark fantasy than you might expect. Also, there’s a guy with a flaming sword. That’s never a bad thing.
Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel is built around a simple core adventure game that pushes you back and forth between screens as you scrounge for items you need to open the way forward. Pieces of artefacts, ornate fantasy gems, and even run of the mill items like knives and a halberd are all here to lend a hand. Solving puzzles usually means locating a missing object and shoving it in place, often in statues or gates or other mysterious roadblocks.
When it’s time for hidden object scenes, you’d better grab your glasses, as these can be tough. Expect frequent interludes of the fractured object kind, tossing a handful of item pieces to the bottom of the screen and challenging you to find the shapes in a cramped, detailed scene above. The item fragments you’ll locate aren’t easy to discern, especially since they don’t fall into the usual category of “stuff you’ll recognize”. Instead, it’s a lot of shapes and plates, jewels and gems, all of which look the same if you squint at the screen. Stay on your toes and keep your eyes peeled and you’ll do just fine, however.
Mini-games also adorn the Floralian halls of Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel. These pop up just as frequently as hidden object scenes and offer a great diversion from the hunt and collect main game. Dark Parables uses familiar set-ups in unique ways, creating mini-game experiences that look and feel different but are easy to jump in and start solving. The toy-based flower finding scene early in the game is a prime example of how the game elaborates on simple themes to create something wholly engaging.
Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel is well-built and all around entertaining. The visuals are richly detailed, the voice acting and animations smooth and engaging, and the puzzles keep you interested without being overly obtuse. The one drawback actually stems from the game’s artwork. With such detailed objects and set pieces, it can be tough to pick out individual items at a glance. Furthering this is the fact that many objects aren’t your ordinary adventure game fare, they branch off into abstract fantasy gear that doesn’t look immediately familiar. The resulting detail overload is overwhelming at first, but you quickly learn to slow down and be more discerning with your searching. Dark Parables is a clever and engaging hidden object game, you just have to take your time to fully appreciate it.