Alexandra Fortune is the latest intrepid explorer-type character to star in her hidden object adventure, and Alexandra Fortune – Mystery of the Lunar Archipelago is full of familiar trappings: a missing mentor, a mysterious journal left behind, exotic locations to visit, ruins to explore, and a goofy sidekick. But the game simply doesn’t do these things as well as many of the games that it borrows its ideas from.
The game begins when Alexandra’s grandfather, a renowned adventurer, disappears unexpectedly, leaving behind his journal. The journal contains many references to a secret place called the Lunar Archipelago, and sketches in it look very similar to an amulet that Alexandra’s grandfather gave her when she was a girl. Alexandra sets off to solve the mystery of the Lunar Archipelago and hopefully find her missing grandfather in the process.
The game takes place across a ring of tropical islands that Alexandra will explore one by one. Gameplay is hidden object adventure fare blended with inventory item puzzles in the style of the Samantha Swift or Mortimer Beckett series’. Instead of searching a cluttered scene for random items, you’ll search for pieces of tools and other key items, fit them back together, and place the items back into the scene to solve puzzles. In other scenarios you’ll have to find straight-up lists of items relating to the story at hand, such as helping a boatman pack his belongings into a box to prepare for an upcoming tycoon.
Alexandra Fortune isn’t as interesting of a heroine as Samantha Swift (from the Samantha Swift series), Cate West (from the Cate West games), or some of the other stars of titles with similar stories and gameplay. Nor is the writing as compelling, nor the puzzles as clever or well thought out. Sometimes, in fact, solving an inventory puzzle is as simple as dragging all of the collected items onto a character to give those items to the person, or putting artifacts of the appropriate color onto pedestals of the matching color. You’re more likely to get stuck because you can’t find one of the items in the list rather than becoming genuinely stumped by a puzzle.
Even if you do get stuck on a puzzle, after a short amount of time has passed you can just skip it altogether. And if you can’t find an item, clicking on the hint amulet – which recharges after a short amount of time – will reveal the location.
On the plus side, the graphics aren’t bad. The locations are bright, and for the most part you won’t find yourself squinting trying to find items that are ridiculously small or blurry. But there’s nothing terribly unique about the nondescript ruins and generic jungles and temples. In truth, nothing about Alexandra Fortune really sets it apart from other similar games. It’s perfectly playable and not a frustrating game at all, but a lack of compelling story or unique puzzles means it’s not a title that you’re going to remember in a few weeks, or want to play a second time.