Miss Terri Tale: Vote 4 Me, a hidden object game, is less of a sequel to Miss Terri Tale than it is a do-over.  A much better hint system and an excellent variety of minigames are significant improvements. However, locations and characters are identical to the first game with just a few new extensions. In addition, translation errors and an incomprehensible story keep even this improved version out of the top tier of hidden object games.

Miss Terri Tale is a novelist who is the nosiest neighbour you could ever have. She wanders in and out of her neighbours’ homes, even cracking codes on alarm systems and opening locked diaries. Her reasons for doing this are never entirely clear, as the storyline makes little sense.  In one scene, there is even a person on the floor kicking and struggling and there is no comment at all about what they’re doing or why!  

The sequel is about the coming election for Mayor in the same small town setting as the first tale. This time, instead of searching for a lost dog, Terri is trying to get clues as to how each of her neighbours will vote in the election. We never know why this knowledge is worth Terri becoming a burglar, though.  The game also assumes that players know everything there is to know about the characters from the original story, which can make things very confusing for those new to the series.   And the mysterious “blackmailer” is back, making no more sense than the first time around.

Because these are the same characters in the same town, the primary locations are identical to those of the first game. However, there have been significant improvements in gameplay, beginning with a much better hint system. (You no longer have to keep going back to the office to get new hints.) The tedious local newspaper has largely been dropped in favor of paragraph-size clues on objects that you find in the homes. In Vote 4 Me you get to choose Terri’s outfit for each day, which will result in your later looking for the specific hat or purse that you selected.

Many scenes now have a small puzzle factor, like figuring out where a certain kind of item belongs and putting it back.  Scene to scene navigation is improved, as you can now move from one room to another in a house without having to go back to the map.  Some new searches, like finding files on a computer desktop, are an amusing reminder of everyday life. Cute animations like a cat who peeks through a pet door add charm.

A few of the mini-games, like the alarm codes, are exact repeats of the previous.  However, the variety of minigames is now very good, ranging from pipe puzzles to codes and even some mini time management. All the minigames fit well into the story. And any minigame can now be skipped without penalty if it gets too hard, another big improvement.  

Photorealistic graphics are always a bit of a risk for developers, as they just don’t render well on some monitors. Players will be able to tell if this is a problem from the demo.  One of the nighttime scenes lacks enough contrast to locate all objects easily, but again the new hint system is sufficient to address this.

Translation, however, is not as well done as the first game, with some errors confusing enough to interrupt gameplay, like “clover” instead of “club” for a card suit, and “conserve cans” for “tin cans.” A picture of a gerbil is misidentified as a hamster. But the new hint system is usually enough to overcome all that.

Still, no matter how you look at it, Miss Terri Tale: Vote 4 Me is a direct clone of its predecessor. It’s a better game with some real improvements, but if you’ve already been in the Douglasses’ kitchen 4 times in the previous game, you may not feel like going back there another 4 times for this one, particularly since the storyline is so weak.

With so many first rank hidden object games coming out these days, it’s hard to recommend this for any but the most hardcore fans of the genre.