Tulula: Legend of a Volcano blends HOG, puzzle and city building gameplay.
Whether you’re into hidden object or just puzzle games, the world of casual PC gaming isn’t lacking in either. It’s when you find a game that combines both aspects so lightheartedly that you have something to behold. Tulula: Legend of Volcano does just that, and is a nice change of pace for players.
The story in Tulula: Legend of a Volcano is an interesting one. It begins quite simply, with you being informed that you are the only member of your tribe to escape a spell cast on your friends and family by a terrible, evil spirit. You have to save the tribe by reconstructing the Guard Totem, which is achieved by collecting pieces that have been scattered around the world through level and location-based gameplay.
As you play, the story becomes more about earning rewards that are placed on your Sacred Tree, and even rebuilding your village from scratch – things that you never knew would be focused on from the beginning of the game – and less about the Totem pieces.
From the get-go, you’re given an interesting tutorial, which serves as an introduction to the gameplay mechanics (things like the notebook and your inventory), but also functions as part of the story itself, unlocking the Totem Room and the map. You’re completing steps necessary to progress in the storyline, but you really haven’t even begun. It’s a nice step that feels quite different for the genre.
From there, you’ll travel from location to location, only to find yourself trapped there until you can complete the steps necessary to reconstruct a portal to return yourself to the Totem Room. Only then will your collected pieces be counted, and you’ll be scored based on your progress (whether or not you skipped puzzles, whether or not you completed every task possible, and so on).
Tulula is a fairly complex game. It is far more than just a hidden-object game, with great puzzle variety, memory games, and even a city-building aspect. You see, after you start to make a bit of progress on reassembling the Totem, a tornado destroys your village. This adds another element to the gameplay, as you can then find blueprints hidden throughout the world, which, along with the points you earn from each level, can be spent to rebuild the village, building by building in the order that you see fit.
With so much going on at once, Intenium made the decision to present these steps in a very linear fashion. You must complete things in a specific order, even if you know how to complete the other steps that need to be done. It’s in this that the game finds its largest flaw, and if there’s anything the developers could have done better it would be in offering more freedom to the user. This “hand-holding” technique works great for those who are new to the hidden object genre, but more experienced players may find the lack of freedom, and therefore substantial challenge, a bit disappointing.
That isn’t to say that the game is incredibly easy, as each location on your journey is themed in an entirely different way, requiring a bit of acclimation time before you can readily pick out the objects that are “different” and therefore necessary to complete your mission(s) there.
What’s more is that every so often you will have to enter the spirit world, where you’ll play through a very basic, and traditional hidden object game – a list of objects will be presented to you, and you have to find them in order to trigger an event or earn an item that can and must be used back in the real world in order to proceed.
The point here is that the game simply has tons to do, but the experience doesn’t drag. If you get stuck, you can simply use a hint and the game will point you in the right direction.
Graphically, the game is quite unique. Where most hidden object titles take on a dark and gloomy feeling, mostly due to their equally somber storylines, Tulula: Legend of a Volcano is anything but, with bright, colorful animations, and an upbeat soundtrack filled with tropical music, even if that soundtrack is accompanied by fairly basic sound effects.
With eleven chapters to progress through, Tulula: Legend of a Volcano is a fairly long title in the point-and-click space, lasting upwards of six hours, depending on your dependence (or lack thereof) on hints and puzzle “skips.” Each element of the gameplay may have been seen elsewhere, but when combined, it all feels new and fresh, especially with the unique graphical theme. If you’re a fan of the many elements represented here, the game is sure to please.