So strange, it’s ordinary.
Here’s a strange discovery for you: purple crystals that make plants come to life and animals mutate! Your brother Alan was investigating the situation on Aurora Peak when he summoned you to help. One helicopter crash and a crazy dude in a hazmat suit later, and you find yourself stranded near the mountain with no way to help Alan. Time to get this hidden object stuff started!
Strange Discoveries: Aurora Peak is a casual adventure game that features several types of hidden object scenes interspersed with mini-games, inventory puzzles, and cutscenes. Everything takes place surrounding Aurora Peak itself, providing a rich landscape of territory to explore both indoors and out. As soon as you begin your hunt for Alan, you realize things here are much more unusual than they appear, which is really saying something when there are plants springing to life around every corner!
Across seven chapters you’ll poke your cursor into every nook and cranny of the tropical environment: uncovering items you need to solve puzzles, and slowly pushing the story forward with each major discovery. Hidden object scenes are relatively sparse and come in several flavors, including standard list-based scenes, silhouette scenes where you find items based on an outline, and reverse-style scenes where you put items back where they belong. The hidden object scenes are fairly standard and don’t really stand out, but they’re reasonably well done and, at the very least, don’t get in the way.
The environments in Strange Discoveries are loaded with details. Everything is lush and vibrant and pulsing with life, including ferns that grow and shrink before your eyes, trees that breathe (yeah, you read that right), and handfuls of other fluid animations. The artwork really brings the story to life, contributing to the immersion factor by illustrating just how active those strange purple crystals are making everything.
Strange Discoveries: Aurora Peak features a lot of mini-games, and unfortunately, they’re not all top shelf quality. A few are difficult to control, such as the sliding tile puzzle early on, while others are either too simple or just plain dull. By contrast, the rest of the mini-games display quite a lot of creativity. You can never tell which camp a game will fall into until you start trying to solve it, but a skip button is always there to let you slide on by if you so desire.
The high point of Strange Discoveries: Aurora Peak is its story. It’s kind of hard not to fall for a tale of mutated animals running loose in a Jurassic Park-style environment. The mysterious villain has an intriguing mad scientist vibe early on, which sounds a bit ordinary for a casual adventure game, but actually does a great job of drawing your interest. A few other extras round out the experience, including achievements and morphing objects.
In the end, Strange Discoveries: Aurora Peak stumbles a few too many times to stand out as a truly superlative game. Saving it from obscurity, though, are great graphics, a unique story, and a handful of puzzles that will make you nod and smile with approval.