A hidden object adventure for the dog lover in all of us
The sleepy mountain village of Houndspoint is full of dog lovers, so when a streak of crimes starts killing off the townspeople and dogs look to be the culprit, it’s almost too much for this canine-friendly town to take.
You’re drawn into the midst of the mystery after your own dog is kid—err, dognapped by a group of large, evil animals resembling dogs, but obviously not acting of their own free will. In Fierce Tales: The Dog’s Heart, it will be up to you to investigate the powers controlling these evil dogs and to stop the crimes from continuing before this little hamlet is destroyed forever.
Fierce Tales: The Dog’s Heart offers a great balance between hidden object gameplay, puzzles and point-and-click adventuring. Hidden object scenes are somewhat rare in the grand scheme of things, but they’re easy to complete, with items that remain in their original locations even when you’re forced to repeat a scene. You’ll take key items away from scenes and the environments as a whole, and will then need to determine the purposes of many of these items, as they may not be readily apparent.
Puzzles make regular appearances throughout the game’s 3-4 hour length, but many of these are the clichéd offerings you’d expect: tile swapping puzzles, knot untangling puzzles, variations on jigsaw puzzles and more. The hint and skip meters charge quickly on the game’s easiest difficulty setting (of the three that are available), and the collector’s edition of the game provides a detailed walkthrough if that’s still not enough to help you through.
All along the way, you’ll find journal entries and newspaper clippings that will help flesh out the backstory of the crimes prior to the game’s beginning, and you’ll also bear witness to plenty of cutscenes and even occasionally interact with some of the town’s remaining citizens through fully voiced sequences. The human character models are fairly unrealistic and are almost jarring against the otherwise crisp graphics, but luckily, the animal models are much more believable. Either way, if you’re a dog lover, the story is an incredibly engaging one, as you’ll be drawn into the world and will want to track down your own virtual pup before it’s too late.
But Fierce Tales: The Dog’s Heart isn’t a perfect experience, as there’s far too much backtracking to use items or find a hidden object scene that has randomly reactivated, and there are a few click-recognition issues that force you to click on a hotspot multiple times before the game will recognize you’ve placed or picked up an item. Finally, you’ll often come across key items that are broken or otherwise incomplete, but instead of allowing you to pick up these fragments and then combine them later, you’ll simply need to remember where these items are and come back after you’ve found the other pieces to the “puzzle.” This isn’t a terrible feature, but it is an odd design choice in a game that’s otherwise so linear as it forces the aforementioned backtracking that adds nothing to the experience.
Overall, Fierce Tales: The Dog’s Heart is a really enjoyable hidden object game with a fairly unique premise. The game may focus on the occasional scare tactic, but the simple fact that you’re not surrounded by ghosts (as is the case with dozens, if not hundreds of other games), is a step in the right direction. There are a few technical issues to watch out for, and the game is ultimately shorter than I would have expected / liked, but all things considered, this is one game that’s well worth the price of admission.