When people think of art and the great masters of the canvas, the typical setting is quiet and calm galleries where the paintings hang still and silent. Yet in Meridian93’s new title Hidden World of Art 2, police, cunning thieves, adn the FBI cross paths with classic paintings in a delightful story of when calm and thrills combine.
Lana Vassari is a young and highly successful restorer of paintings. Leading a typically quiet and simple life pursuing her passion in the town of Everton, she returns from vacation to be greeted with a complete uproar. A master ring of art thieves have been stealing paintings from well-known galleries, including many of her own personal clients. The paintings that have been recovered have been defaced with newly-painted objects added to the classics. One by one she must restore the paintings, and when her art expertise reaches the police, she’s enlisted as an undercover art agent. Will she be able to help recover the lost paintings and help the FBI put the thieves to justice?
Hidden World of Art 2 is a charming and refreshingly lengthy hidden object title. As an art restorer, Lana will have to carefully find the flaws and wrongful additions in each recovered painting that she’s given. Every single hidden object area revolves around a specific painting. Each painting is a famous or classic piece that can be found in galleries around the world. When a level/painting is completed, it will be added to a section of the game called Gallery. You can click this to view each painting, who the artist was, and what the title of the painting is. That’s not the only artsy thing about this title though: even decorative objects for Lana’s various apartments are sometimes based on renowned art pieces.
Finding objects can be a tricky ordeal, as almost every single one is specifically stylized to fit the painting it’s been added to, but a hidden object fan up for a challenge who doesn’t mind looking up-close should be thrilled. Objects shown on the list can be found in any order. After finding a specific number of objects, a bonus list will appear. The challenge here is that if you want the bonus, you’ll have to find the three objects listed in order, which is a nice spin.
Hints can be used on these bonuses, and hints are unlimited, however there’s a catch. The first hint is free, but the second hint will cost you 250 coins. Each hint after that, the price will be increased by 50, really encouraging the gamer to try and find items themselves and weigh the value of their plight. When all is said and done, your score will be tallied and compared to other people who have played the game, giving you an overall ranking. Coins that have been earned can be used to decorate Lana’s various apartments, the customization not unlike that of the wedding chapel in Dream Day Wedding: Viva Las Vegas. This is purely optional and can be easily skipped, though it does add a fun element to the already excellent hidden object play.
The game’s story is drawn-out and involving, growing over the course of the game in a believable fashion. People that are in it just for the gameplay though can effortlessly skip through any dialogue at any time. Another feature of the game that further draws you into each area is the fact that classical music, matched to that of the timeline the painting was originally made, is played while working on each. Sounds reminiscent of the environment of the painting can also be heard, really bringing it to life in a wonderfully charming manor.
The art direction of the gameplay is stunningly well-done, yet it’s also the art direction that gives this game a funny quirk. While the gameplay art is gorgeous, the very beginning and end art scenes are a much different and simpler style that really appears sloppy next to the fluid and fanciful artistic gameplay. Furthermore, while objects are nice and difficult to find, they could easily be too frustrating for some people, especially those who don’t have sharp eyesight.
Overall though, Hidden World of Art 2 is an excellent title that complex I-Spy and hidden object veterans and artists alike will adore. The gameplay is fun, it’s challenging, it’s involving, it’s long, and the sheer artistic nature and introduction of classic pieces to gamers is original, with execution being thoroughly well-done. Thumbs up to Meridian93.