This fast-paced HOG is heavy on the social, but too light on the fun
Most hidden object games are meant to relax us, and let us slowly pick apart a room to find that last hidden banana peel. Not Mystery Manor Blitz. Here, time is very much a factor, and players will race against the clock to turn each room inside-out. The exciting “blitz” approach to this game is an extremely fun twist to the hidden object genre: but too many technical and design flaws spoil the entire experience.
The home screen of Mystery Manor Blitz is a cluttered, convoluted mess of permissions requests and advertisements for other games. After completing the five-minute tutorial, I literally had no idea how to start the actual game, or even play another round of the hidden object stages I’d seen in the tutorial. I almost downloaded three other advertised games before I finally found it. I get that it’s a hidden object game, but I shouldn’t have to search through a menu scene to find the hidden ‘PLAY’ button.
Mystery Manor Blitz is more concerned with advertising itself to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers than letting you play the actual game. About thirty minutes into my first session, I discovered the game had hijacked my Twitter account, and made about twenty posts on my behalf the whole time I was playing. I had not given the app permission to do this when I linked it to my social accounts, and I was also unable to find an option to turn this lovely feature off after the damage was done, aside from uninstalling it. The game also implements several “gotcha” tactics that pop up on the actual game screen while you play, to get you to “ask for help” from random Facebook friends. I accidentally invited several contacts to play the game with me, because these invitation suggestions popped up at the most inopportune times, and in the most convenient locations that you’re guaranteed to click on by mistake.
But in the rare moments when you’re actually playing the game, Mystery Manor Blitz does prove to be an enjoyable light-speed version of the classic hidden object game. You’ll have a minute to start with, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but finding objects in quick succession and with little mistakes will net you precious bonus seconds to venture deeper into the manor and unlock other rooms. Once you unlock a new room, that location gets thrown into the current rotation of settings for your next turn. The farthest I’ve ever reached in the game is Room 8, as each subsequent object list gets more and more involved, and time really starts to become a factor. But each hidden object scene is extremely well-done. The visuals have a great attention to detail, and the gameplay mechanics are all very smooth.
You can play as many times as you want for free, but if you want a fighting chance at beating your top score, then you’ll need to part with some of your precious diamonds to buy some helpful power-ups. These power-ups include a compass that locates one object on your list for you at random; a 10-second time boost; and my personal favorite, the bomb, which takes out four to five items on your list in a single blast, and should only be used in dire situations when your back’s against the wall. Another cool feature I found is that if you lose on a high-numbered room, the game will tempt you with a 20-second “continue,” for the measly price of two or three diamonds. Typically you’ll want to go for this deal, as the game is pretty generous with how many diamonds it gives you at the start, and how many you can earn by completing achievements.
The more times you play, the more you get to know what every object looks like in the manor as they start to repeat. And trust me: these duplicate objects will be a welcomed thing. There is something so inherently satisfying about flying through each hidden object screen and building up those big combos. But be warned: you’ll be penalized by a whopping 5 seconds if you click on the wrong objects too many times. It then becomes great fun in trying to refrain yourself from clicking on random items all around the room, when all you have is one last object to find, and panic starts to set in!
In the end, I have mixed feelings about Mystery Manor Blitz. On one hand, the game brings some nice ideas to the hidden object table, and it’s a great choice to play if you only have ten or fifteen minutes of game time to spare. But on the other hand, the game badgers you with way too many social profile requests, and deciphering their advertisements from actual in-game menus could be a hidden object level in of itself. If cleaned up a little, and stripped of its invasive social tactics, this idea could have been a real hidden gem.