Genre:  Hidden Object

Midnight Castle Review: You’ll play until the sun comes up

Jan 21, 2014

In Midnight Castle, the newest social hidden object adventure from Elephant Games and Big Fish Games, players are summoned to a dim and eerie castle after their uncle’s strange and unexplained demise, which seems to have something to do with the castle’s hidden Mystery Chamber. But one step onto the castle grounds and one interaction with the spooky cast of characters, and you’ll quickly see how the game’s stunning presentation and masterful exploration of the genre leave nothing dark or mysterious about its great and truly rewarding nature.

Despite being a free-to-play “social” hidden object game rather than a premium and streamlined “adventure,” Midnight Castle is presented in a way that would make any adventure fan feel right at home. Instead of some lifeless map you have to click around to move from scene to scene, every area in the game is beautifully laid out across an interactive landscape, where you will move from location to location, interacting with characters and entering hidden object scenes. Even the smaller details are incredibly cool, like the way you’re able to click to interact with key items in your inventory, and serve as a much-needed breath of fresh air for both sides of the HOG genre at large.

Midnight Castle

The hidden object scenes are pretty much what you’d expect from a social HOG, with speed and repetition being the primary focus. You’ll breeze through each scene finding small lists of items until you know their locations by heart and can start chaining together some high score combos from clicking on them in quick succession. Once you’ve played through a given scene numerous times, you’ll unlock its next tier of difficulty, which adds more items to the overall list and rearranges their positions for a nice and welcome changeup. Typical social HOG fare, yes; but the hidden object scenes themselves are still some of the most detailed and nicely drawn that I’ve seen from such like-minded games in a while.

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Hidden Objects: Mystery Crimes Walkthrough

Jan 7, 2014

Hidden Objects: Mystery Crimes is a free-to-play hidden object game from Team Lava in which you solve crimes, puzzles, and put criminals behind bars using your deductive skills. Gamezebo’s quick-start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to play your best game.

Hidden Objects: Mystery Crimes

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Hidden Objects: Mystery Crimes Review: Gives a new meaning to the daily grind

Jan 6, 2014

It's crime time! Team Lava's Hidden Objects: Mystery Crimes puts you behind the detective badge as you solve crimes the only way you know how: by completing hidden object scenes. Sift through lists of objects, interview suspects, and send evidence to the forensics team for evidence, all without stepping foot in a single real-life dirty alleyway.

Hidden Objects: Mystery Crimes is split into two main areas of play: hidden object scenes and investigative interludes. The former are the meat and potatoes of the game, so you'll spend a great deal of time here looking for items and admiring the luscious artwork. Between rounds you'll talk with persons of interest and manage forensics tasks, many of which include quick mini-games to spice up the gameplay with some variety.

Hidden Objects: Mystery Crimes

Hidden object scenes are very basic, handing you a small list of items to find in a handful of cramped locations. Speed is important, as you get bonus multipliers for finding multiple objects in a row. The best tactic is to locate a couple of objects and then dart your finger around, scooping up the big points. You can also unleash bonus items like a combo booster, hint packs, and object previews, if you've got the gems to spare. Once you complete a stage you're awarded points based on your performance, and then it's back to the real detective work!

Hidden Objects: Mystery Crimes features three types of currency to work with: gems, energy bolts, and stars. Energy bolts are spent to enter crime scenes to search for clues. No energy means no item hunts, but they do refill (slowly) as time passes. Gems can be spent to hurry tasks along, such as encouraging the forensics team to analyze that vial of strange liquid. They also allow you to carry power-ups into each hidden object scene, though at a surprisingly steep cost. And finally, stars are spent to interview suspects and analyze clues, sort of like energy bolts for the investigative side of things.

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Disney Hidden Worlds Walkthrough

Dec 21, 2013

Disney Hidden Worlds is a hidden object game created by Disney. Disney Hidden Worlds challenges players to find specific objects in static images taken directly from Disney movies like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Tangled. New scenes are opened up with the aid of the "Inklings" once you locate bottles of ink and other objects and items. Gamezebo’s quick start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how get into every crevice of Disney World.

Disney Hidden Worlds

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Awakening Kingdoms Review: Shaking up the social HOG

Dec 20, 2013

Awakening is one of Big Fish Games' most popular series, and this month the publisher brings us what it hopes will be the next evolutionary step in the hidden object genre: namely a free-to-play hidden object/building sim hybrid called Awakening Kingdoms. While it skillfully combines many of the most prevalent casual game types—hidden object hunts, jigsaw puzzles, building simulations and collectibles—it also fails to overcome the repetitiousness seemingly inherent to the social game milieu.

Kingdoms starts well by casting you as the steward of Queen Sophia's ill-fated Skyward Kingdom. Having clashed with and vanquished the evil mage Dreadmyre, the queen asks you to help her people recover and rebuild her war-torn lands. After choosing a name and an avatar, you get to work by becoming acquainted with the kingdom’s various human and non-human inhabitants, and then Harry Potter-like, take on an owl assistant named Linea. Gamers familiar with the Awakening universe will feel immediately at home with the game's fantasy characters and landscapes, and social gamers will take its energy-based hidden object searches as a matter of course. Fortunately, in addition to these familiar things, there are a few new elements on offer to pique the interest of less-casual, casual gamers.

Awakening Kingdoms

Then again, Kingdoms'features aren't really new; it's the way they're presented that freshens them up. Since your job is to rebuild the kingdom, a good amount of your time is spent constructing and upgrading the queen's castle and environs. This is more satisfying than in most “ville”-type games because you're given a closer view of things as they improve. It's also better because you have to do something more engaging than clicking and waiting to gain money and resources. Both of these come from exploring various hidden object scenes; alas, this hidden-object-dependency is unfortunate because the process is so repetitive.

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Disney Hidden Worlds Review: The World of Waiting

Dec 20, 2013

Disney has a new hidden object game (HOG), and despite some of the rumors and urban legends that still haunt the House of Mouse, it has nothing to do with finding bad words or naughty imagery in movies like Aladdin, The Lion King, or The Little Mermaid (Say, Disney – are you taking pitches for game ideas?).

No, Disney Hidden Worlds is very innocent. It also features its own unique cast of characters that guide the player through several familiar Disney worlds – an admirable addition, given Disney could have easily phoned in the game's presentation. In fact, Disney Hidden Worlds would be a perfect "starter" HOG for young people if not for some problematic bugs and an energy system that makes it difficult to play for an extended period of time without paying.

Disney Hidden Worlds

Disney Hidden Worlds stages several hidden object scenes across popular movie properties like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Tangled. If you know your way around a hidden object game, then you should be able to jump straight into Disney Hidden Worlds. Each scenario provides a list of items to find in a crowded scene, and you simply tap or click on the object to grab it.

The faster you find items, the higher your score multiplier becomes. The higher your score at the end of a hunt, the faster you fill up stars that indicate you've mastered the scene.

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Hotel Enigma Review: An enigma wrapped in a hidden object game

Dec 16, 2013

Hotels are weird places. Whether it's a scream-worthy shower at the Bates or an extended stay at The Overlook, something strange is always bound to happen. Before you arrived at Hotel Enigma, one of the guests disappeared. Literally disappeared. Everyone is a suspect, so the hotel has been put on lockdown. Room by room you'll carry out your investigation, searching high and low for the items you need to solve the case!

At Hotel Enigma, things are a little less murderey than most fictional hotels, though don't think there's an ounce less intrigue packed behind these cherry-stained doors. You'll move between areas completing round after round of hidden object scenes as you gather clues and learn about the guests currently lurking inside the hotel's walls. Eventually you'll find out what happened to your room's previous occupant, but you can bet your polyester necktie it won't be a simple whodunit.

Hotel Enigma

Things are pretty basic in Hotel Enigma as far as gameplay goes, with a heavy emphasis on replaying scenes to find new lists of items, often switching between silhouette hunts and typical laundry list scenes. Tap items to gather them, and use the menu bar to activate hints that range from vague item locators to straight-up indicators that show you right where the item is. There's always a helpful nudge there if you need it, but most of the scenes aren't so difficult that you'll resort to spamming hint buttons.

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Time Gap Preview: The hidden objects of our history

Dec 11, 2013

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after countless hours of hunting for hidden objects in the shadowy recesses of the world, it’s that HOGs and history just seem to go hand in hand. To that end, Absolutist is hard at work on a brand new social hidden object game for mobile devices, and this time around, the free-to-play adventure is so ambitious that even all of space and time won’t be able to contain it. Featuring a cool science-fiction theme, tons of real-life historical figures to help you along the way, and lots of variety in terms of the gameplay, playing Time Gap: The Mysteries of the Lost Civilization will quickly start to put huge gaps in your own free time as well!

The story of Time Gap begins when your player-character suddenly realizes that everyone else in the world has vanished without a trace while you were spending some time down at the café. Your character is then promptly confronted by the ghosts of several of history’s greatest figures, such as Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and even Cleopatra, who all try to help you investigate where exactly everybody in the world has disappeared to. The narrative and dialogue are both lighthearted and fun, and the story sets the stage for some great hidden object searching throughout all sorts of environments across the world, as well as time and space.

Time Gap

Earlier this week I had a chance to get some hands-on time with an early build of Time Gap, and it’s already safe to say that the game’s welcoming blend of hidden object and social gameplay will be a real treat for gamers in search of their next engrossing HOG fix. The hidden object scenes themselves have a nice amount of variety and challenge to them, with rotating parameters that regulate the different ways you’ll need to play: from night scenes and mirrored scenes, to searching through fog and quickly dealing with an item list that suffers from vanishing letters over time.

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Mystery Case Files: Fate's Carnival Review: Step right up and try your luck!

Nov 27, 2013

Despite being the tenth game in the long-running and hugely successful HOG series, Mystery Case Files: Fate’s Carnival is actually a sequel of sorts to the fourth game in the franchise, 2007’s Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate, as it marks the player detective’s return to Madame Fate’s carnival and all of the mystery and wonder that is swirling around inside. But while the carnival setting itself might seem rehashed on paper, this time around everything in Madam Fate’s world just seems so much livelier, and Elephant Games packs on the content and inventive puzzles to match. I hope you picked up a carnival day pass and have your pockets lined with tickets, because you’re going to be enjoying your time at this spooky fair for quite a while!

Truth be told, I didn’t feel like there was much of a story to accompany the action of Fate’s Carnival at first. The player detective simply shows up at the titular carnival and references repeatedly through the dialogue that you had been there once before on a previous case. The majority of the game will simply involve your silent character moving through the carnival, and saving various carnies in distress: like the Amazing Larry, who’s somehow found himself irreplaceably sawn in half, or the Strong Man, who’s found his muscles being pushed to their limit in a hellish gauntlet of sorts. There’s also the occasional scare or two, which actually made me jump in both their sounds and execution.

Mystery Case Files: Fate's Carnival

However, that’s certainly not to say the story never heats up as more mysteries and evil forces gradually get introduced, and that it doesn’t lay the foundation for all sorts of carnival magic and wonder to crop up along the way. You’ll also be given a spooky ghost cat by Madame Fate at the start of the game, who will help by reaching certain items that are well out of your reach, or scaring bats and attacking fish for your own personal gain: just like any good ghost cat would do. This adds a unique component to the exploration segments of the game, as you’ll often forget that the ghost cat is exactly what you need to solve a puzzle when you’ve exhausted all other options in your inventory.

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Haunted House Mysteries Review: The biggest mysteries are in the game design

Oct 14, 2013

Hidden object games are best-suited for desktop computers, mainly because a large part of the gameplay involves searching densely-packed, highly-detailed scenes – a task that's clumsy to perform on a smaller screen. Moreover, the complex puzzles of adventure games are also better-solved with a mouse than with touchscreen controls. Haunted House Mysteries for iPad is a nice-looking game that suffers by appearing on an inappropriate platform.

As so many hidden object adventures do, Haunted House Mysteries begins with a terrible tragedy. A famous archaeologist and his family are murdered in their New England vacation home, presumably because of a rare artifact being kept there. Years later, Nancy, a young graduate student writing a thesis on modern-day superstition, is called to the home by her elderly aunt. On the surface, the invitation is for Nancy to enjoy a few days' R&R, but she soon discovers her aunt's true intention is for her to investigate the site's alleged paranormal activity.

Haunted House Mysteries

Haunted House Mysteries was obviously made by a team of talented artists, since from the first spooky scene it makes a good impression. Nancy and her aunt are sharp and attractive by design, and so are all of the game's locations. (I'm fairly sure the exterior of the main house is the Norman Bates Psycho house.) The game also sounds pretty good thanks to a nice music score that effectively augments the lugubrious Victorian interiors.

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