An evil magician has enslaved the residents of Luzio, putting them under a magical spell and forcing them to do his bidding. As Rosalie the fortuneteller, your connection to your tarot cards offered you protection against his spell, but not before he put you into a deep sleep and scattered your cards to the four winds. To save the villagers, you’ll have to recover your deck and beat the magician at his own game.
You’ll spend the majority of your time in hidden object game The Tarot’s Misfortune searching various corners of Luzio for your missing tarot cards, as well as objects that will help you gain entry to the next section of time. Each location is divided into several different rooms, and you’ll have to move back and forth between them all in order to clear the area. The list you’re given in each room has items listed in blue, which can be found immediately, and grey, which require you to take some kind of action before you can grab them.
The hidden object levels of The Tarot’s Misfortune are marvelous, hand-drawn scenes bursting with color, but that’s not what makes them so intriguing. Each location has bits of scenery in the foreground that block your view of portions of the room, so you’ll have to move left and right to peer around them. You can either move a slider at the bottom of the scene or simply move your cursor to the far left or right; it’s a bit awkward at first, but once you’ve got the navigation down you’ll find it adds a particularly engaging layer to your searches.
The gray items on your list require more than just your keen eye, though, which is where the game’s light puzzle solving comes into play. The objects you’ll need to complete the objective will be stored in your inventory, and it’s usually pretty obvious what needs to be done; if you have a nail and see a lopsided painting, it’s not too hard to figure out what you should do. The game holds your hand a bit too much when it comes to the more traditional-style puzzles, though. It’s impossible to assemble the tangram incorrectly, for example, because the game won’t let you place a piece unless it’s correct, and you simply have to match the shattered dish pieces to their outlines in order to put the entire thing back together. That much help makes the puzzles into busywork as opposed to an actual challenge.
In between finding objects and solving small puzzles, you’ll have to find the differences between sets of tarot cards. Spotting all five differences gives you a clue that will help you move forward in the game, but after the first four or five rounds, it begins to get a bit tedious. It’s not so much that finding the changes stops being fun, it’s just that tarot cards don’t vary all that much from card to card, so there’s an overwhelming feeling of sameness as you go through round after round after round. Sure, maybe this time you’re looking at the seven of swords instead of the nine of cups, but there’s only so much variation in the deck.
I have two minor complaints about The Tarot’s Misfortune. The first is that the music, though pleasant enough, is on such a short loop that it gets very repetitious very quickly. Scenes can take a nice, long time to clear, because the objects are so very well hidden, which means you’re going to end up having that small collection of notes burned into your brain before long. My other complaint is the game’s near-complete lack of story. Once you’re past the initial set-up for the plot, very little else happens by way of story other than Rosalie turning over tarot cards and murmuring to herself about how she’ll have to search the entire area, be smart, and overcome obstacles. Well, no duh, Rosalie, we didn’t exactly need the power of the tarot to piece that one together.
These are minor quibbles about what is otherwise a beautiful and refreshingly different HOG. The mechanic of having to peek around objects in the foreground should be more than enough to attract fans of the genre, but the gorgeous visuals are the icing on the cake.