Sometimes a game comes along and you get a sense of deja vu. It’s almost as if you’ve played it before. The setting feels familiar, as do the puzzles and gameplay. Island: The Lost Medallion is just that sort of game. While, aside from a few issues, it’s not particularly bad, it is incredibly generic. It may be fairly well done, but really, you’ve seen all of this before.
The game kicks off with a young woman named Pam returning from an excavation ship, where she uncovered a strange medallion of mysterious origins. Unfortunately for her, and her boyfriend James, just one day after she returns Pam is kidnapped. This means it’s up to James to set out and rescue her. After a quick trip to the library, where he somehow determines her whereabouts, James sets off on a long journey that eventually takes him to a strange island containing some puzzle-filled ancient ruins.
The story is told via still cut-scenes that blend comic-book style word bubbles with visuals that look almost hand painted. It’s a combination that doesn’t work very well, as the two styles aren’t very complimentary, but instead look rather awkward. As for the story, it’s a straightforward tale packing few surprises, though there is a somewhat unexpected twist towards the end.
You’ll spend the majority of your time exploring these ruins, which look about the same as the ancient ruins in every other hidden object game. The setting of Island: The Lost Medallion is about as generic as you’ll find, though, at the very least, it does look good. The background scenes are full of detail and sport some good art, though at times they can be a little too cluttered.
Of course, when I say you’ll spend most of your time exploring the ruins, what I mean is you’ll be looking for lots and lots of hidden objects. Island splits the object finding up into two different sections. In one, it’s the standard HOG formula, where you’re given a large list of seemingly random items and you have to pick them out amongst a cluttered backdrop filled with plenty of other items. In the other, you’re searching for items you’ll actually be using to solve puzzles, whether it’s a screwdriver or a lighter. The twist is, these objects are, for some reason, broken up into several pieces, so you’ll have to find all of them before the item can be used.
The problem with the hidden object sections though, is that they can be very frustrating. Many of the objects are so small that it’s almost impossible to see them, while others are almost the exact same color as the background. Suffice to say, chances are you’ll be using the recharging hint system quite a bit. There’s also the usual assortment of mini-games to help keep things fresh. Though these can often be frustrating as well, since the game often gives almost incomprehensible clues that will leave you wondering just what it is you’re supposed to be doing. Thankfully, there’s always the option to skip these puzzles.
There are a few other niggling issues as well, such as the way the game constantly re-uses objects, having you find more than your fair share of boots and soccer balls. The game also appears to have some poorly translated dialog, which has some of the characters speaking in broken English.
Now it may seem like Island is a terrible game, but that really isn’t the case. Despite it’s several flaws, it’s a mostly enjoyable experience. It’s lengthy, challenging, and has a good amount of variety. But it’s hard to shake the fact that it’s an almost entirely unoriginal game. If you’ve ever played a HOG before, there’s not one aspect of The Lost Medallion that will feel new or fresh.