If you’ve clicked through Gamezebo’s active community forums lately then you’re well aware of the problems faced by those who downloaded Alawar Entertainment’s Magic Encyclopedia: First Story, a promising hidden object game that suffered from a few technical bugs – one of which even halted the gameplay about two hours in.
This game reviewer was particularly disappointed by Magic Encyclopedia: First Story because up until the problems arose it was one of the most entertaining hidden object games of the year thus far.
OK, some good news: If you haven’t heard already, developer V-Games has fixed the game and has made this patched version available for download.
If you haven’t played it yet, here’s why you should.
Magic Encyclopedia begins with a nicely-animated introduction (yay, no comic book-like storyboards for a change) with a young girl, Catherine, who just finished taking her exams at the Academy for Magic, when she received an urgent message written on the wings of a paper bird. Upon opening the note, she is magically transported to a wild jungle, and learns of a terrible dragon that must be stopped. You must use your newfound magic to travel the world – from South America to the Middle East to Africa, and other locations – to complete this ambitious quest.
The core game concept will be familiar to “hidden-object” fans, where you’re faced with a busy scene – such as a Mayan temple littered with hard-to-find items – and you must carefully scour the environment and click on what you’re supposed to find. Instead of words written on the side or bottom of the screen, such as “Bottle,” “Watch” and “Arrow,” this game shows you the items you’re supposed to find, and it’s in pieces, too. Therefore, an axe or bowl, for example, will be divided into three or four pieces each; only when you find all the pieces does the item fill in.
In many cases the completed items become part of your inventory, which is what separates Magic Encyclopedia from most other hidden-object games. This is because you must then use that item somewhere on the screen to solve a puzzle. For example, you might build a sword, which is required to break open a piece of rock and reveal something inside. Or you build a relic and must place it on a pedestal, which opens a secret door with another missing piece inside. Or you put together a drumstick, which can be used to bang on an African drum, causing a face on tribal mask to smile – this reveals a missing tooth, which you must find on another screen and return to this one (yes, sometimes you’re juggling between two or three scenes, which also adds to the challenge and fun).
Unlike many other hidden-object games there is no time limit to complete these scenes (but there is for mini-games, see below) and you aren’t penalized for clicking too many times on incorrect items.
The more than 25 levels and hundreds of objects to find are all hand-drawn and have a lot of character. The exotic music is also lovely, and fitting, and changes depending on the level you’re on. New story elements are introduced after a new location has been played through.
On every level there will also be a mini-game to play which opens up its own screen. This could be a Match-3 type game (where you must click on adjacent gems of the same color), a water pipe game (flip around valves to help the flow of water through a hose), a Tower of Hanoi-like puzzle (stack rings on vertical sticks from smallest to largest), an Egyptian shape-matching puzzle, constellation building star game or various jigsaw-like puzzles. Great stuff.
Even if you’re getting a little tired of hidden object games, do yourself a favor and give Magic Encyclopedia: First Story a spin. With the wonderful graphics and story, music and mini-games, and adveture game-like puzzles strewn throughout, you’ll certainly agree that this – er, finally finished – game pushes the genre forward in exciting new directions.