Help psychic investigator Angelica Weaver track two different serial killers across time and space
It's been a while since such an impeccably-made hidden object adventure hit the 'net, but without doubt, Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can is destined to become what some people might call an “instant classic.” Brought to us by the folks at Mumbo Jumbo, it represents a rare mix of creativity, beauty fun and narrative skill—a formula not seen enough in the hidden object genre, or even in games in general.
Catch Me When You Can tells a complex story set in the City of Big Shoulders, Chicago. (That in itself makes it unique in a genre dominated by quaint villages and rotting manors). Psychic investigator Angelica Weaver is called in to investigate what looks like a string of serial murders, mainly because of her unique ability to “see” through both the victim's and the killer's eyes. Not long into the investigation, she finds herself whisked away (psychically?) to another century, where she finds herself embroiled in yet another case that closely parallels the one in Chicago. It quickly becomes apparent that the killers in both cases are playing with Angelica, challenging her to a deadly game of cat and mouse. Let it go at that—to say more would risk spoiling the surprise. Instead, I'll tell you why Catch Me When You Can is such a great game.
First off, it differs from other hidden object games in the way it's presented. Most games in the genre go the first-person route, never showing the hero or heroine on screen and presumably, that's because it's easier to put yourself in your own shoes than in someone else's. While that's certainly a valid approach, I actually prefer when the heroine is defined as an on screen character and that's what happens here. Other games have featured psychic investigators, but Ms. Weaver was instantly more interesting to me, mainly because she's real.
Not overly beautiful or poised or built, she comes across as an intelligent, professional, capable woman, someone I might actually know. She stays on screen throughout the game, and it's cool seeing her react via commentary, gesture or expression to everything that happens. Further, she has an actual voice (which reveals her personality even further) and she's fortunate enough to have one of the best looking 3D models I've seen in the hidden object genre.
Beyond having created a great heroine, Catch Me When You Can also succeeds by weaving (no pun intended) a surprisingly well-written and well-thought-out story. 98% of hidden object games seem to think story is a mere excuse to get you from point A to point B or to make you look for random stuff. Here story and gameplay are fully integrated. Hidden object scenes function as clue-searches and Angelica often comments on the things you find. Scenes and objects give you insight into the case and make sense within the context of the story. It's amazing how much this does to make the game world feel more real—as do other details like Angelica's laptop journal and smart phone crime scene photos.
Puzzles too are very well done, with many familiar puzzle concepts skillfully re-fashioned. In addition to some familiar brain-teasers, there are a good number of things I've never seen before in a hidden object adventure, including a crossword and a couple of physics-based puzzles. Familiar or no, all the puzzles are entertaining and hit the right level, difficulty-wise. There are even a couple of times when the game makes clever use your name/player profile, a feature it's surprising more games don't take advantage of.
The Catch Me When You Can Collector's Edition offers quite a bit more above and beyond the amazing main game. It comes with a lot of extras, including music tracks, wallpapers, screensavers, a strategy guide, concept art (a gallery that shows a cool progression of how concepts become final in-game art), achievements and an Unlimited Hidden Object mode. The game's bonus chapter picks up where the main story leaves off, and although this extra chapter's a bit on the short side, the crazy twist it throws at you in the end (I dare you to see this one coming) totally makes up for it.
Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can is a superlative hidden object game from beginning to end. Skillful writing, artistry and cleverness make it one of the most entertaining and unique interactive experiences released this year. Trust me, this one stands head and shoulders above your average hidden object title. So don't disappoint yourself, aspiring psychic detectives. Catch it while you can.
- Compelling heroine. Cool setting. Thoughtful story. Gameplay cleverly (and fully) integrated into the narrative.