Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials
It's hard to think of a more spooky setting than 17th century Salem, Massachusetts, site of the infamous Salem witch trials. But when the entire town is made up of creepy ghosts, well, the spooky factor goes up quite a bit. InMidnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials, a new hidden object game from Mumbo Jumbo and the sequel to Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allen Poe Conspiracy, you'll once again be tasked with going back in time and investigating a mysterious death and the sequel offers up more of what made the first game so enjoyable, while at the same time fixing some of its issues.
Just like the first Midnight Mysteries, Salem Witch Trials tasks you with investigating the death of a famous author. In this case, it's Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the game, Hawthorne died during a strange snow storm and his ghost, unsure of what really happened, is unable to rest until he learns the truth. Naturally, he comes to you asking for help. You'll be thrust back in time in order to investigate, and your journey will have you dealing with ghosts, poltergeists, and even former president Franklin Pierce. The story moves along at a nice pace and does a good job of staying mysterious until the very end.
Your investigation will have you collecting clues, interrogating witnesses, and solving puzzles. The clue collecting, of course, fits perfectly with the fact that it's a hidden object game. You'll be scouring the dark village for items, some of which will be used to solve puzzles later on. There are traditional HOG scenes, which give you a list of items to find before you can move on, as well as scenes that don't tell you what you need to find. For the latter scenes, the objects are generally pretty easy to pick out thanks in large part to the fact that they glow green. Unlike most HOGs, Salem Witch Trials doesn't feature a re-charging hint system. Instead, your hints are limited in number, though this can be increased by collecting crows hidden throughout the game.
Talking to witnesses, which consist entirely of ghosts, is fairly straightforward. In most cases you're given three questions you can ask and occasionally you'll have to give them an item before they'll reveal any information. You won't have to worry about remembering everything important that they say, however, as it's all recorded in your handy notebook. The notebook serves as a very useful tool as it not only records important information for you, but also serves as a great way to refresh your memory if you decide to take a break from the game, reminding you just where you left off.
For the most part, the puzzles in the game involve using the items in your inventory in a logical way. Sometimes this means giving a ghost something they want, while other times it means finding a key for a secret door. You'll also have to combine some of the items before you can use them. For example, you can't use a pen without ink or a gavel without a handle. Most of the time the answers to these puzzles are fairly obvious, but thanks to your relatively small inventory, even if they aren't you only need to try a few items before you find the right answer. There are also a few skippable mini-games thrown in for good measure, that will have you doing everything from cracking a safe to brewing a love potion.
Like its predecessor, Salem Witch Trials features gorgeous, dark visuals that really help to give the game a spooky atmosphere. It also doesn't hurt that the majority of the game takes place outdoors and at night. It's not just the graphics that make the game creepy, however, as the sound design is equally spooky. Not only does the game feature a chilling soundtrack, but you'll frequently hear disembodied whispers that are more than a little unsettling.
Salem Witch Trials plays a lot like The Edgar Allen Poe Conspiracy --with dark, beautiful graphics, a compelling story, and a solid mixture of HOG and point and click adventure elements -- but also fixes most of the issues the first game had. The puzzles are more logical this time around and the HOG scenes don't feature clues with multiple solutions. All this amounts to a wonderfully spooky game that, while a little on the easy side, is still incredibly enjoyable. Salem Witch Trials manages to overcome the sophomore curse and offer up an experience that's even better than the original.
- Dark, moody atmosphere. Compelling story. Nice mixture of point-and-click adventure and HOG. Haunting soundtrack.
- Puzzles and HOG sections are a little too easy.