For people who complain that hidden object games are getting too complicated and straying too much from their roots, there’s always a game like Paranormal Agency. This run-of-the-mill hidden object game with a supernatural twist offers pure seek-and-find gameplay (with the odd skippable puzzle thrown in) but suffers from a meandering story and a few other minor issues.
Heather Williams is a professional exorcist who runs her business like a supernatural detective squad, chasing down reports of poltergeists and then using her peculiar powers to make the ghosts stop bothering people.
By way of a dialogue-heavy story (that can be skipped altogether if you choose,) we learn that the city is being threatened when an extremely powerful ghost from Heather’s past shows up to cause trouble. The only way Heather can fight back is by… clearing rooms of hidden objects!
To be fair, all the searching does tie into the story in some way, whether it’s searching for a list of items by name or silhouette in order to find a key item that a character is looking for (always the last one object your list), or helping Heather clear a room of poltergeists by identifying and clicking on faint ghost-like objects that hover on top of other ones. You’ll also be asked to find lists of items, such as light sources, animals and insects, or pieces of paper.
Paranormal Agency is missing some of the bells and whistles that the top-tier hidden object games offer, such as voice-acting and attractive graphics. The characters all have distractingly huge noses, and items are frequently recycled. As a result, though, the file-size is just under 30 MB, which is tiny compared to a 92 MB behemoth like Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst.
There’s a choice of classic or relaxed (untimed) modes, but both offer ample hints that are easily replenished by finding "?" symbols in the scenes.
The story is an ambitious one with several main characters and plot twists, but the dialogue could be tighter. Especially in the latter half of the game, it seems like the story is being strung out simply for the sake of lengthening the game and it loses some of its momentum by making you search the same scene two or three times in a row for different sets of items.
The story also suffers from standard issues that crop up whenever a game hasn’t been thoroughly play-tested and localized. Clicks occasionally didn’t take, some items are mislabelled ("nippers" apparently refers to what look like garden shears, clarinet is incorrectly called a flute, and then there’s my favorite, the "baseball ball.") Instructions demonstrate the odd spelling mistake and poor grammar, like the order to "Help collecting stationery."
Paranormal Agency isn’t going to win over any new fans to the genre, but is a playable enough hidden object game for diehard fans looking for a seek-and-find fix.