This hidden object adventure looks more unique than it actually is.
Untold History: Descendant of the Sun is a hidden object adventure game that focuses more on puzzles and backtracking than it does on traditional hidden object scenes. The game follows the title character, a young girl named Aarya, the Descendant of the Sun. As Aarya, you’re challenged to track down talismans and protect an ancient scroll before evil beings can find it first. The game’s locations make this one seem more unique than it ultimately is, but it still comes with some nice touches that make the experience a fairly enjoyable, albeit slow one.
Descendant of the Sun is immediately striking thanks to its Middle Eastern- or Asian-inspired settings. From deserts and camels to ancient temples with multiple Gods, the locations here are lovely and the soundtrack perfectly fits the mood. Some locations are a bit blurry, but the animations are well done, with flashes of light or smoke billowing out from a long-locked item, as examples.
The game’s hidden object scenes are rather rare, but they’re easy to complete. The junk piles aren’t overly cluttered, and scenes come with further interactivity via hotspots that contain items that must be opened, combined, or otherwise manipulated before the final hidden object can be collected. You’ll often find multiple key items in each scene, which does limit the number of scenes you’ll ultimately have to play, but the scenes that are repeated still feel rather fresh given the length of time between each playthrough and the addition of new items in each instance.
While reactivating hidden object scenes from the beginning of the game definitely doesn’t work with the flow of the story, this backtracking is acceptable thanks to the game’s very helpful map system. Task markers give you a constant look at where you need to go, and scenes load quickly as you fast travel throughout the world. The hint meter also charges quickly on the game’s easier of two difficulty settings (in around 60 seconds), so it’s particularly hard to truly become stuck.
This ease of gameplay doesn’t hold true for the game’s many puzzles, which are oftentimes overly complicated or time consuming, relying on trial and error due to their lack of in-depth instructions. About halfway through the game, for instance, you’re challenged with unlocking a cipher by lining up matching symbols from a large group of possible answers. You’re not told which symbols to line up, and must instead fiddle with the gadget until the skip meter fills or you “magically” fall into the answer. The Collector’s Edition of the game does offer a strategy guide to help in these instances, but the in-game puzzle tutorials should have been better designed from the beginning.
This lack of attention to detail carries into the voice acting, as the main character remains silent while others speak. Even with the voice acting of other characters, their models remain static with no mouth movements, as though everyone is really communicating via telepathy. The voice acting is well done, so this ultimately isn’t a deal breaker, but it is an incredibly odd choice when so much work was clearly put into the game’s navigation system and other animations.
Untold History: Descendant of the Sun is a hard game to judge. While magical talismans and evil ghostly beings are nothing new in the world of hidden object games, the title’s unique settings create a feeling of freshness as players dive into a colorful, yet dark world of ancient curses. The game’s map makes navigation a breeze, but also removes almost all of the challenge from the experience, as it’s impossible to really get stuck. For now, this one feels a bit overpriced as a Collector’s Edition, but would be a fine purchase when the price drops down to a more budget-friendly level.