Off the coast of England there’s an island the locals call The Forsaken Isle. Friendly place, right? Long ago the island was home to a bustling port city. Now it’s full of ghosts, necromancers, and oh yeah, man-eating wolves. A mogul established his trading empire there only to have his daughter disappear in the forest one fateful day. She’s back now in creepy spectre form, and it looks like she wants to be your tour guide.
Ominous Tales: The Forsaken Isle is a casual hidden object game that definitely lives up to its name. This spooky tale of supernatural events sends you on an adventure around the haunted island, encountering more than your fair share of wolves and undead beings. Everywhere you turn something strange is happening, creating a very ominous feeling to every puzzle and every event.
Ominous Tales deploys a certain economy of items. Some games pile things in your inventory like a squirrel getting ready for the winter. Here, you usually only find a couple of items at a time, and you put them to use almost immediately. There are a lot of interactive items you’ll need to examine and assemble, and you’ll almost immediately know they fit together once they appear in your inventory. It’s nice not having to worry about a dozen random things with each step you take.
Hidden object scenes are a small but intricate part of the Ominous Tales experience. Each one features a text list of items, a large portion of which are interactive in nature. You know, bring matches to a candle to collect a flame, place jewels on bands to collect a ring, that sort of thing. The interesting part is Ominous Tales treats hidden object scenes as mini-games. If you set the difficulty level at the beginning to include a “skip” timer, you can pass right through the hidden object scenes with just a click.
Mini-games in The Forsaken Isle are hit and miss. Some of them are a interesting and welcome distractions from an otherwise dark and gloomy day of exploration. Others make you scrunch your eyebrows and ask what they’re doing on an island like this in the first place. Several of the games don’t fit the atmosphere of Ominous Tales, which can be jarring. None of them are too obtuse or uninteresting to complete, just a little less than extraordinary.
Ominous Tales: The Forsaken Isle sets a truly ominous stage and dives right in. The supernatural setting is simple but well-done, the story dodges a few tropes as it works to keep you entertained, and the focus on smaller collections of inventory items gives you the head space you need to actually solve puzzles instead of brute forcing your way through. The game doesn’t take many design risks, but what’s here is quite enjoyable indeed.