Maestro: Music of Death is a polished hidden object adventure with a macabre musical theme
In Maestro: Music of Death you’re an inspector called to the outskirts of Paris to investigate the cause of a suspected epidemic that has caused the entire city to be quarantined. As you quickly learn, however, there’s actually something much more sinister going on than a straightforward plague. The city has been invaded by some sort of malevolent presence that has the power to age people within seconds using the power of a mysterious music.
Like previous offerings from ERS Game Studios, Music of Death is a well-polished adventure game with hidden object elements and minigames. In addition to exploring scenes and solving inventory-based puzzles as you explore the eerily deserted streets of Paris, you can also periodically zoom in on special areas to hunt for useful items amidst hidden object clutter. Some of the items on your list might not be available right away, so you’ll have to figure out how to retrieve them, such as pushing a blanket aside to get at something underneath.
These searchable hidden object areas are highlighted with sparkles in Regular mode, but if that sounds too easy then you can also try Expert mode, where you’ll have to figure out for yourself where the active zones are. (Skip and Hint buttons take longer to recharge, too.)
The gameplay is completely formulaic if you’re familiar with how hidden object adventures work, including plenty of backtracking around to places you’ve already visited to see if a new hidden object scene magically pops up. However, the game’s environments are so well done that players shouldn’t mind a bit of backtracking now and then. The hidden object scenes are great-looking and enjoyable as well.
The puzzle aspects of the game are equally solid, although some of the solutions can seem a bit forced. (Why, for example, do you need to find a broom to brush away some debris when you could have easily just used your hand?) Where adventure puzzles are concerned, the hint system nudges you in the right direction without actually giving everything away. (Hints let you know if there’s nothing to do in a particular area, but won’t tell you exactly where you have to go next – you’ll have to figure that out for yourself.)
While some of the minigames (which can all be skipped after waiting a short time) are garden variety slider puzzles and the like, Music of Death also boasts a nice selection of unique music-based puzzles, such as positioning a violin-player’s limbs correctly so he can play the instrument, arranging notes on a page, playing back the right notes on a flute, and so on, which tie in very nicely to the game’s overall theme.
From the cutscenes to the hidden object scenes, Music of Death has wonderful graphic – in spite of the subject matter being macabre. The soundtrack is very nice as well, underscoring the gameplay decently without becoming too rigorous or overbearing as some hidden object soundtracks do.
The game’s length is decent – about 3-4 hours, and the Collector’s Edition bonus chapter adds another 45 minutes or so of gameplay if you take your time. The ending is a lot more satisfying if you play through the bonus chapter too, but either way, the path is wide open for a sequel. The Collector’s Edition, in addition to offering the standard wallpapers, screensaver, and concept art, also provides printable sheet music of the musical themes in the game, so if you’re musically inclined you can play them yourself on the piano. Given the musical theme of the game, this was a thoughtful extra to include.
All in all, Maestro: Music of Death is another great hidden object adventure from ERS Game Studios. All we can say is, keep them coming!