You awaken on an island with no memory of who you are or why you’re there. What is this place? There were clearly scientists working here at one time – where have they all gone? What was the purpose of their experiments? Most importantly, how are you going to get home? These are just some of the questions you’ll confront as you struggle to regain your memory in the hidden object game, Marooned.
You’ll investigate every inch of the island in your efforts to regain your memory, slowly piecing together the bread crumbs of information left behind. The island isn’t particularly big, however, so you’ll revisit each location many times: three times for hidden object searches, and a few other times to uncover key objects you’ll need to continue further.
The hidden object portions come in three flavors: a straight up list hunt, which unlocks an important item you’ll need, such as a machete to clear foliage or a key to unlock a drawer; a level where you’ll have to find 15 somethings – frogs, butterflies, socks, whatever; and a particularly inventive search where you must find two items that make up a third. For example, if given the clue "whale watching," you might have to find binoculars and a whale, while a gun and a scope would make "sharpshooter."
Visiting the same locations time and time again does get rather repetitious, but Marooned throws in a light amount of puzzle solving to help hold your interest. You’ll have silhouettes of particular items in your inventory – these are the items you’ll need to use on the environment to uncover a clue to the mystery or to simply help you move forward. If the item can be found at your current location, it’s highlighted, which is particularly helpful for some of the more vaguely shaped objects. It’s not always immediately obvious what you’re meant to do with them once you have them, but the game provides some not-so-subtle clues to point you in the right direction.
Objects that can be manipulated in the scene have jigsaw pieces when you hover over them; click on them and you’ll receive a clue like "This crate is in bad shape. Someone really hammered it.", which should make it pretty obvious what to do with the hammer when you find it.
Marooned also throws plenty of hints your way, giving you a healthy inventory of "hint spears" when you begin, and sprinkling them pretty liberally throughout the scenes. Combined with the club-you-over-the-head nature of the puzzle clues you get, and Marooned definitely leans toward being too easy.
The mystery of Marooned, involving an ancient civilization’s unusual power source, is a darn good one and will keep you intrigued as you work your way around the island’s various locations. Sorting through the bric-a-brac left behind by the science team, you quickly learn that you yourself are a scientist of some renown.
You’ll continue piecing together memories bit by bit as you progress through the game, until you finally unravel the biggest mystery of all – just in time for the game’s cliffhanger ending. Marooned is the first chapter in a promised trilogy and though it sets the story up nicely, it ends far too soon. You’ll barely be out of the free trial before seeing the "To Be Continued" signaling the game’s ending. Even playing at an extremely leisurely pace, you’ll wrap things up in three hours or less.
Marooned is certainly an enjoyable experience, with a fun mystery and decent voice acting from its main character, but its low difficulty level and short length make it tough to recommend as a full purchase. Keep your eyes peeled for a bundle of the full trilogy – that’ll probably be a more satisfying way to visit this game.
For similar games, try G.H.O.S.T. Chronicles: Phantom of the Renaissance Faire, Hidden in Time: Mirror Mirror, and Masters of Mystery: Crime of Fashion.