You know you’re in for a treat when your hidden object game starts with an artist making a deal with Death. Haunted Manor 3: Painted Beauties is a casual adventure that places you in the pristine shoes of lady Amelie as she reads a book in the park. The charming but mysterious Stephan Black approaches and asks to paint her portrait, and Amelie suddenly finds herself inside a dark, gothic world filled with puzzles, surprises, and Death herself.
Haunted Manor: Painted Beauties follows our lost lady as she tries to untangle the web of oddities she finds herself stranded in. The game focuses on a series of loosely connected rooms littered with items to gather and obstacles to halt your progress. Back and forth you’ll go, picking up objects and stuffing them in your inventory until you’ve got just the right knick knack for the puzzle you’re trying to solve. And all the while Mr. Black is one step ahead.
Hidden object scenes are frequent and come in several varieties, including text lists and item silhouettes. Regardless of the type, you’ll always have a number of interactive elements placed before you, simple things like moving a branch out of the way so you can see a few new things. You’ve only got a dozen items to find, but the challenge level is tuned just right to keep you from finishing the scene too quickly.
Rounding out Haunted Manor’s base features are the mini-games. These little diversions pop up from time to time and offer a quick and simple challenge to take your mind off of Stephan Black and the looming Death. Most mini-games are simple plays on familiar concepts, things like matching puzzles or tile rotating sequences. They aren’t straight out of the box ordinary, just unique enough to qualify as interesting.
Haunted Manor: Painted Beauties’ art style is worth a mention. Some screenshots make the game look dull and gray, like everything was filmed on one of those old cameras that couldn’t quite get the color right. In motion, though, the artwork is anything but uninteresting. There’s a lot of detail in the objects and explorable areas, right down to cracks in stones and decorations on precious metals. The gothic setting leans everything towards a more muted color palette, but don’t worry, things get colorful the further you progress.
It may be a by the numbers casual hidden object game, but Haunted Manor: Painted Beauties adds interest where it counts. The puzzles keep you guessing and searching, the hidden object scenes spice things up at just the right time, the mini-games are short but fascinating, and the story hits things home with a lot of supernatural twists and turns. Easy, simple, and fun.