Elixir of Immortality
Your mission as the detective in hidden object game Elixir of Immortality is to discover who at the castle has been bumping off the hired help. The only trouble is, your disguise as the newest hired hand not only means you’ll have to suspend your investigations to do the bidding of the castle residents, but also that you’ve got a big fat target on your back.
You certainly don’t want for suspects, though; the chemist, botanist, magician and physicist are all pretty fishy, to say nothing of the castle’s enigmatic master who communicates with you solely by leaving notes around. No sooner have you arrived on the island then you’re put to work, scurrying around, helping the castles residents with their odd and mysterious projects.
Fulfilling your role as hired hand – and maintaining your cover story – means you’ll have to search areas for the bits and pieces you need to complete the tasks assigned to you by the suspects. The items searches are standard, follow-the-list fare, but the locations are beautifully drawn and marvelously detailed. The castle and its grounds are full of strange and wonderful things, so prowling around them tracking down lost levers and gears is a joy. You’ll revisit locations to do object searches several times, and the lists definitely have a certain sameness about them – you’ll find many, many ladles, candlesticks, and books – but even items of the same type look completely different, so it never feels too repetitious.
You’ll usually come away from an object search with a useful item or two that can be used to solve one of Elixir of Immortality‘s many excellent puzzles. Some puzzles are of the classic type, such as moving a marble through a maze or assembling a tangram, but most are more practical, such as finding ingredients to make soup or tracking down the right book on botany. The difficulty on these challenges varies, but a keen observer should have no trouble.
Players who choose the Advanced game mode may find themselves stumped every so often as the game indicates hidden object areas, but nothing else. Running your cursor over a scene will highlight areas that are interactive, but if you feel like you’ve missed something, clicking the magnifying glass in the corner will show off everything of interest in the room. It’s a great system that lets players who want more of a challenge only call for help when they genuinely need it. A similar “nudge” system for the puzzles, as opposed to the ability to just flat-out skip them, would’ve been appreciated, but the option to bag them altogether works just fine.
Elixir of Immortality hits all the right marks when it comes to aesthetics and ingenuity, but it does stumble in some basic ways. Your investigation will take you all over the island and you’ll have to do a great deal of backtracking, but it’s easy to forget where everything is, especially if you take time between play sessions. A few language issues crop up, too. For the most part, they just lead to awkward or incorrect phrasing in dialog or notes, but they can hinder searches, too. When all you’re asked to find is a “melon,” it’s tough to know if you should be going for the honeydew or the watermelon (the former, as it turns out) and if there’s a more vague clue than “ornament”, I’ve yet to encounter it. (That was referring to what looked like a Mayan calendar, by the way.)
The story of Elixir of Immortality is immensely fun, with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. If only there were more to it. Even taking your time, you’ll be done with the game in two or three hours at best. They’ll be very enjoyable hours, though; consider Elixir of Immortality to be the beach reading of hidden object games.