When Sarah was just a child, her country was attacked by a beastly invader who goes by the name Lord Marcus. This foe razed her world to the ground, destroying everything he could get his hands on and taking the throne as his own. The long conquering machine armies now have a plan to kill the Great Tree deep in the Ancient Forest, which will give them the power to rule for eternity. And the only person that stands in their way is Sarah.
Spirit of the Ancient Forest is a classically styled hidden object puzzle game that ditches the adventure side of things and lets you focus on what you like best: finding items in a series of crowded scenes. You’ll complete puzzle after puzzle in this straightforward game, each time unlocking a new chunk of the story before moving on to the next diversion. It’s a simple set-up that works extremely well for short bursts of play.
Most of Spirit of the Ancient Forest revolves around hidden object puzzles. These static screens toss a heap of items in front of your face and give you a singular goal: find all the matching pairs (or triplets!). No text lists or silhouettes to go by, just good old fashioned compare and contrast. This gets incredibly difficult incredibly quickly, which is why you’ll be thankful for the hint button at the bottom of the screen. Use it sparingly, though, as the crystals that keep it charged are few and far between.
Outside of hidden object scenes you’ll find a host of other diversions in Spirit of the Ancient Forest. Jigsaw puzzles are quite common, as are their distant cousins the slideshow assembly puzzle. There’s not all that much variety to be found, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, the star of the show is the hidden object content, and that’s done pretty well.
Spirit of the Ancient Forest doesn’t feature a lot of outside content, extras, or hidden surprises. It presents an interesting enough story couched within a steampunk fantasy setting, then proceeds to share those details across dozens of puzzle stages. It’s almost like an interactive slideshow where you have to manually pick apart or piece together each slide. We’re not looking at vacation photos, though, we’re hearing the story of Sarah’s world and how she saves it from ruin.
Walk into the Spirits of the Ancient Forest experience expecting a casual hidden object puzzle-a-thon and you won’t be disappointed. The game has an uncommonly narrow focus, but what it presents it presents very well.