A so-so attempt at a hidden object renaissance.

An unconventional hidden object game in many respects, Apothecarium – The Renaissance of Evil goes out of its way to give you your fair share of excitement. In addition to a good old fashioned story of medieval science and plagues, you’ll come across monster battles, optional match-3 puzzles, plenty of mini-games, and more conjurer’s tricks than you can shake an alchemist’s glove at.

Apothecarium is the place everyone wants to be. The city of scientists is rumored to have a cure for the terrible plague that’s spreading across medieval Italy, but getting there isn’t as easy as strolling down Via Appia. Dark creatures and terrible magic are running rampant through the land. Not to mention that sickness thing that’s killing people left and right. On top of that, a strange fellow is wandering the night, a cloud of sinister smoke at his heels and a strange mask of gold hiding his face. Does he have something to do with this whole plague business, or is he just another bloke with a cane? Good thing you’ll run into him a few times on your way to Apothecarium!

Apothecarium - The Renaissance of Evil

Apothecarium – The Renaissance of Evil is a casual hidden object game filled with creative diversions and alchemical wonders. You’ll spend as much time fiddling with mini-games and solving puzzles as you will exploring the landscape, making it feel less like an adventure and more like a collection of mini-games. The story is placed on the backburner in favor of a bounty of mini-games and puzzles, each of which are pretty standard in their own right but add up to something a little more impressive.

Hidden object scenes offer more than a dozen items to find in each location, some of which must be uncovered before they can be collected, as noted by the bronze color on the list. Not in the mood for a hidden object scene? Apothecarium – The Renaissance of Evil lets you switch to a match-3 puzzle at any time. Simply click the icon at the bottom of the screen and you’ll see a grid of gems appear before your eyes. Swap tiles to make matches, slowly moving the magnifying glass icons down to the bottom of the screen. Each magnifying glass that completes the journey automatically discovers an item on the HOG list, allowing you to complete the scene without looking for a single object. It’s a very basic kind of match-3, but it’s great to have the option present.

Apothecarium - The Renaissance of Evil

One very unique feature in Apothecarium is an in-game upgrades shop, something you rarely see in a hidden object release. You pick up and earn coins as you explore, allowing you to purchase things like elixirs, gear-operated machines, and time accelerators, each of which has some effect on the game. For example, the Light of Truth elixir reveals all items in a hidden object scene for several moments. If you’re quick, you can complete the scene before the potion wears off! Items are either single-use or permanent and can only be used in the hidden object and match-3 sections, but they’re surprisingly useful and manage to add some fun to the experience without feeling like some sort of cheat or game hack.

At the end of the day, Apothecarium – The Renaissance of Evil is a so-so hidden object game. The interface stutters on occasion, leaving you to wonder if the game froze and you just lost several minutes of item collecting. The graphics, mini-games, and puzzles are middle of the road. Apothecarium makes up for a lot of this with very creative encounters and some great story ideas, but when it’s saddled on a bog standard game, it doesn’t really get a chance to shine.