The Hidden Prophecies of Nostradamus from Cat’s Eye Games mixes a fairly easy classic Hidden Object Game with a variety of 8 types of mini-games, some very challenging. A limited number of SKIP options means every player will have to complete at least some of the mini-games to complete the game. Some players will enjoy the variety—others will find the extreme variation in difficulty frustrating.
There’s no real story to The Hidden Prophecies of Nostradamus. Supposedly you have uncovered a connection between the standard Ryder Tarot deck and the Nostradamus prophecies, but the connection is arbitrary and the Ryder cards are really used only as artwork to introduce each new level. Hidden Object scenes take place in locations that are intended to reflect Nostradamus’ setting of 16th Century France, but contain multiple anachronisms and inaccuracies. (We know Nostradamus was ahead of his time, but we’re still pretty sure he didn’t have light bulbs, telephones, and hockey masks.) Although Nostradamus was a real person, you won’t get any history lessons from this game. There’s also no real ending to the story, such as it is.
Still, those who like classic hidden object games that simply place random objects into random settings may well like this. Although the locations do repeat, the objects move around somewhat and the Find Lists change, so there’s not much of a feel of déjà vu. Each level requires you to find slightly more objects than the previous, which helps balance out any growing familiarity. Objects are large and relatively easy to find.
Levels are timed, but with 45 minutes to find about 50 objects, most players should be able to complete the tasks without difficulty. There’s also a Relaxed Mode option that doubles the amount of time per level. The hint refreshes over time, but you probably won’t need it more than two or three times per level. If you do use it, it puts a sparkle ring around an object, which seems sufficient to locate it. There is a medical skeleton or two, but nothing gory or horrific. There are no inventory tasks.
Some of the artwork is very nice, with an elegant palette and rich detail. Ambient noises add some interest, and the background music is suitable if not authentic.
So at first it seems as though this game was designed for those who just like straight- forward hidden object play. Then comes the first mini-game. It is a fill-in-the-blank Wheel of Fortune type word puzzle that requires players to solve not just one, but three different 4-line puzzles based on the prophecies of Nostradamus. While it’s a nice change for those who do like wordgames, it’s such a different difficulty level from the Hidden Object scenes that it’s quite startling.
You are allowed a total of four SKIPs in the game, but since players face a new mini-game at the end of each of the 15 levels, it’s not clear that everyone will be able to complete all the mini-games needed to advance.
Not all the mini-games are word puzzles. There are two that involve setting levers to direct a firebolt across a grid to knock out targets. This again must be completed three times per mini-game. Another mini-game requires players to solve four scrambled cards which, while not mentally difficult, requires some significant physical dexterity as any twitch of the mouse scrambles the cards again. Three other types of mini-games are easier.
We think most players will want to use two SKIPS on the scrambled card puzzles—even if you can do them physically, they’re pretty boring. That leaves only two SKIPS left, which means every player will have to tackle at least two of the more difficult mini-games.
We think the game would have been better off aiming at a single audience. There is a market for simple, satisfying Hidden Object games, and the production values for this one are quite high. We like the fact that different objects appear when you return to a location again, and that there’s more than one kind of snake, mushroom, mouse, etc.
Although we usually like the idea of mini-games, these seem to have been designed for a completely different target audience. The difference in skill level required is so varied we think it hurts the game experience.
Most gamers will like some parts of The Hidden Prophecies of Nostradamus. But it doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that many will find the overall experience frustrating.