G.H.O.S.T. Hunters: The Haunting of Majesty Manor Review

Troubled by things that go bump in the night? Not sure if it’s a haunting or a hoax? A specter or a spoof? A phantom or phony? If you’re uncertain, don’t take chances. Dial Ghost Hunter, Inc. instead!

G.H.O.S.T. Hunters: The Haunting of Majesty Manor, the latest offering in the hidden-object genre, blends macabre and mystery in a tale of “supposed” spectral taunting. Your job, as a newly-hired investigator, is to figure out whether the haunting is genuine or a cruel deception.

Resembling the exceptionally popular Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst, The Haunting of Majesty Manor adds a dash of suspense to its find-the-hidden-item gameplay. Viola Majesty, the manor’s matron, is desperate. For months she’s been troubled by eerie noises, missing items and objects that seemingly move on their own. As a last resort, she’s turned to Ghost Hunter, Inc. to determine exactly what’s happening and why.

Upon arrival, you’re given 15 days to investigate and solve the mystery, accomplished by visiting several locations each day and examining the objects contained there. Every locale must be thoroughly searched, multiple times, for items containing residual psychic energy. These are then employed to identify possible suspects. How? With your trusty Spectre-Scan Mate, a PDA (Paranormal Detector’s Assistant?) of sorts.

In all, you must scrutinize 19 unique locations including the Billiard Room, Carriage House, Garden Shed, Graveyard and Library. Each environment, the norm in hidden-object games, is littered with a cacophonous collection of incongruous chattel (resembling a storeroom at the local Goodwill store). From among these miscellaneous goods you’re tasked with finding anywhere from 10 to 14 objects per room. Acquire all but two and you advance to the next location. When each day’s “work” is complete, return to extricate the remaining objects and receive a bonus for your efforts. However, avoid clicking too fast or randomly, as doing so induces a 30-second time penalty.

Then, at the end of your 15-day investigation, you’ll head for the Attic where you’ll find items stashed by Mrs. Majesty, each part of a spectral incident. Used in conjunction with your findings, these objects will narrow the suspect list and identify the culprit behind the haunting.

Item identification is straightforward. Match the bits and pieces on each location’s list with those hidden among the stash. In most cases, objects will eventually become apparent. Nonetheless, think broadly. For instance, a bat could be a baseball bat or a nocturnal flying mammal while a mouse could be a furry rodent, a stuffed animal or a computer input device. Likewise, a telephone could be an actual phone or a “Telephone” sign or symbol. Of course, many objects are exactly what you expect them to be, though hidden extremely well.

Given the above, some items will simply elude you. If time’s running out (unlikely due to the leniency of the game) or you’re tired of looking, the battery-powered Spectre-Scan Mate serves as a hint system. Select “Hint” and a Multi-Scanner Wand appears. Indicators light up showing the strength of the signal as you search for an obstinately obtuse object and, as with a Geiger counter, the Wand clicks rapidly to indicate an item’s immediate presence. Five hints are provided each day and you shouldn’t need more. But, if you do, extras are available by locating hidden batteries (hints consume power).

At the end of the day (or, in this case, days), G.H.O.S.T. Hunters is an enjoyable diversion. Music and sound effects, like thunder, footsteps, whispers and creaking hinges, are appropriately atmospheric. Visuals share company with the best in the genre, though, are a smidgen less pristine than characteristic of the Mystery Case Files series. And, the game offers a modest degree of replay value thanks to alternating culprits and random object lists (though items are stationary, so by the second time through you’ll know where most are hidden).

Still, when compared to its object-imbued brethren, The Haunting of Majesty Manor has a few chinks in its rasping armor. At the end of a day, you move directly to the next. No interludes like puzzles to assemble or mechanisms to unlock are included to add variety. Only one play mode is incorporated, too. Ravenhearst, for example, has a Timed and Relaxed mode of play. Since you have sufficient time to solve each location in G.H.O.S.T. Hunters, a second, aggressively-timed mode would have increased the play value for more-adept object hounds. Finally, story elements between days are lacking. There simply needs to be a greater flow of narrative tying the game together.

Regardless, if you’re a fan of hidden-object games and enjoy a touch of suspense, G.H.O.S.T. Hunters, The Haunting of Majesty Manor will not disappoint. Just make sure you have a system capable of its higher-than-average requirements (1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, Windows XP and an NVIDIA or ATI 3D video card).

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