Sister’s Secrecy: Arcanum Bloodlines is definitely a “try before you buy” kind of HOG
Sister’s Secrecy: Arcanum Bloodlines tells the story of Belle and Ariel, a pair of identical twin sisters that are orphaned in childhood and have always shared more than the average twin-bond. There’s something special about Belle, as dark visions of the twins’ supposed past has haunted her entire life. When Belle goes missing at the hands of cultists using dark magic, it will be up to you as Ariel to track down your sister before she is lost to the darkness forever.
What starts as a fairly standard hidden object setup – the family member in distress that you must save – quickly turns into something completely over the top as you’ll encounter ghosts, talking dragons, fairies and more. This jump to a land of complete make-believe is a quick one, and the change in theme is incredibly jarring.
Gameplay itself sees you using standard tools to complete your actions, leaving the magic to mostly remain in the background. That being said, you will sometimes interact with enchanted or magical items that require precise clicking to control. Unfortunately, the game’s many click-recognition issues often work against you in that department.
The majority of your time in the game will be spent backtracking through groups of isolated environments, repeatedly completing hidden object scenes to find key items. These scenes are incredibly dark, but most items are relatively easy to find. The hint meter recharges quickly on the game’s easiest difficulty setting, but if you ever get tired of searching through junk-piles altogether, you can also swap modes into match-three play to “find” items as well. This match-three play takes longer than simply waiting for the hint meter to recharge normally, regardless of your skill with such games, as you’ll need to move symbols to the bottom of the screen (something that’s easier said than done).
The game’s puzzles are clichéd options like tile sliding, ring rotation and jigsaw puzzles, which are altogether lackluster and bring back more of the click problems, as interacting with items will often present text windows stating that you’re not allowed to complete said action even though you are, in fact, supposed to. It’s then up to you to go through trial and error to place your cursor on just the right spot to prove to yourself that you’re not crazy.
Adding insult to injury, it’s easy to accidentally click outside of the puzzle area, closing the puzzle screen and resetting your progress.
The game’s problems notwithstanding, Sister’s Secrecy does have some nice graphical theming and contains many environments with skewed shapes, twinkles of light and so on, adding to the feeling of being in a land of magic. It’s simply odd that this all comes after just taking a ride on a train, as though this land of fantasy really exists and is just hidden away deep in a forest (something that’s hard to believe).
Ultimately, the over-the-top storyline in Sister’s Secrecy: Arcanum Bloodlines adds to the feeling that these are gameplay elements from a multitude of different games mixed into one, and the laughable dialog and cutscene voice-overs do little to help with that “rushed” feeling. Inventory management is problematic, as you’ll usually have a dozen or so items to interact with at once, and the game’s many technical issues add frustration to an experience that was already flawed. If nothing else, this is one experience that needs to be tried for free before investing money in permanently.