Hotels aren’t supposed to be scary places. You’re exhausted from traveling, you need a place to rest your weary bones, and a nice hotel room would just hit the spot. Just as long as it’s not the Hotel Berkeley, that is. This classically styled home away from home has been having problems lately, as all of its guests are being scared off in the night! Looks like they’ve got a problem with evil spirits, and you’re just the investigative journalist to shed some light on the situation.
Fear for Sale: The 13 Keys is a casual adventure title that jumps on the spooky train to creepyville. It’s a surprisingly quiet, understated sort of game, with plenty of secrets to uncover and a storyline that doesn’t involve ghosts jumping out at you from every door. It uses this stable atmosphere to instill a sense of impending dread, turning what would be an ordinary hidden object game into an exercise in dramatic tension.
Most of your time in Fear for Sale will be spent moving back and forth between a small set of rooms as you gather items, scratch your head over puzzles, and piece together bits about the history of this hotel. A great deal of the items you pick up will need to be either taken apart or assembled, giving the game ample excuse to confound you with object fragments that only make sense once they’re pieced together.
Hidden object scenes in The 13 Keys turn up the difficulty a notch. You’ll encounter several different types of scenes, the most interesting of which place silhouettes at the bottom of the screen, challenge you to find the missing object, then place it back in the setting to complete part of the environment. This forces you to be acutely aware of every section of the scene, and it also prevents rapid clicking as a method of hidden object puzzle solving.
Outside of its object-centric puzzles and riddles, Fear for Sale introduces a few extras like short mini-games, hidden morphing items, and just-for-fun clicking spots. It’s way too fun to sit and click on idle leaves to make them flutter down instead of progressing in the game. Fear for Sale has a number of these totally optional extras, and they add a lot to the experience as a whole.
It may have a been there, done that setting and storyline, but Fear for Sale: The 13 Keys pulls through with some great hidden object gameplay. The puzzles are well tuned to be challenging but not frustrating, and the level of interactivity introduced through inventory items and hidden object scenes will keep you enthralled throughout.