Every so often in the casual game space a new kind of gaming experience debuts, which causes a lot of buzz among the community — and then the “me-too” clones begin to appear.
Big Fish Games’ Mystery Case Files series is a perfect example, offering a fun hide-and-seek game-play style that challenges players to search for and click on well-hidden items before the time runs out.
And so now we have Hide and Secret: Treasure of the Ages from Anarchy Enterpises, a game that doesn’t only borrow from Mystery Case Files but steals the concept outright — without adding anything new. Er, unless you count the cheesy story.
The game begins at a museum unveiling, but just as the curator swings open the doors to reveal the valuable Treasure of the Ages to the press, a hush falls upon the crowd as the treasures have been stolen, along with the mystical powers contained within. To retrieve the treasures and apprehend the criminals, adventurer Will Scout, who looks like a carbon copy of Indiana Jones, and his trusty sidekick, Anna Lyze (get it?), go after the malevolent Jacques and his henchman, Toadie. This “story” — complete with incredibly silly dialogue and bad voice acting – is told through hand drawn, comic book-like storyboards.
As the duo traverses the globe in their pursuit, they must solve puzzles left behind by the sinister Jacques. Game-play involves clicking on a map location (such as Castle Doors, The Forest and The Study), to search for items listed along the left-hand side of the screen, including a top hat, baseball bat, stone fleur de lis, balloons, sombrero, parking meter, hot dog and many other items. As with Mystery Case Files, you must search a cluttered environment for these items and click on them to scratch it off the list. You will see how many items you must find in order to complete the location, and you only have a limited amount of time in which to do it. If you incorrectly click on items, after a few times you will receive a time penalty, which means a minute or so is shaved off the clock. You can click up to three hint buttons on the screen to help reveal an item you may be stuck on.
In total, there are 30 unique locations, interspersed with comic book elements to push the story forward.
Aside from the fact Hide and Secret: Treasure of the Ages doesn’t offer anything new for this genre, the game also suffers from a few problems. For one, it’s way too easy. Items repeat quite a bit – I must have been asked to click on a “can of pears” three times in a matter of minutes — so you know exactly what it looks like, therefore you find it in one second. Secondly, you’re given way too much time on the clock — at one glance it was 22 minutes!
Another frustrating shortcoming is the fact many items look the same, yet you’re penalized for clicking on the wrong one. One example of this is a white, four-blade “fan” and a white, four-blade “propeller,” both of which are on the same screen. In another instance, I was asked to find a hand bell…except I clicked on a silver upside down cup, which looked to me like the silver hand bell I was supposed to find.
Hide and Secret: Treasure of the Ages isn’t horrible, but it’s lack of ingenuity, dialogue that will make players roll their eyes and some evident game-play issues all result in a slightly below-average experience. Perhaps if the developers took the time to add something new to the genre and better playtest the game-play, it would be worth playing. But as it stands, let Jacques steal the treasure – it ain’t worth going after.