Samantha Swift and the Mystery from Atlantis Review

By Marc Saltzman |

Following the first two Samantha Swift hidden-object adventures — Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena and Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch — MumboJumbo is back with the third game that stars the daring female archeologist as she once again traverses the globe to solve a epic mystery.

Samantha Swift and the Mystery from Atlantis doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors, though — not because it’s not as fun, but rather, the bar has been raised considerably in the hidden-object game (HOG) space over the past while and this one feels and looks dated by comparison. But fans of the Samantha Swift series won’t likely be disappointed.

Our intrepid archaeologist-adventurer begins her quest in Alaska, to uncover missing pieces of an Atlantean treasure, but the villainous Colonel Tempesta steals the Totem of Lights out from under her. Swift regains her composure and continues to scour the globe for more treasure (to Australia next, followed by other continents), and prepares for a face-off against her thieving nemesis.

Mystery from Atlantis can be played with a timed mode (with scoring) or relaxed (no timer), but the core gameplay remains the same between the two: hunt for well-hidden objects in a busy scene. The items are listed at the bottom of the screen — such as fishing rod, snowballs and saber-toothed necklace — but while some are relevant to the level (such as a gas torch used to melt away snow) others are not (potatoes, referee whistle, soup ladle).

Speaking of which, you’ll be asked to solve adventure game-like puzzles with items placed in your inventory, such as a key to start a snowmobile or loud items that make noise in order to cause an avalanche. Some items are listed as riddles, so instead of telling you the actual name of the object ("penguin") it might say something like "Antarctic citizen." Or "criminal’s bracelet" instead of "handcuffs." You might also be asked to click on pairs of items, such as two fish, two compasses, two canteens, and so on.

If you get stuck on these HOG levels, click the scanner and you’ll see a silhouette of what the item looks like. This is a good idea as this game has some odd objects at times, like a "Way Finder" and "Ice Drill Auger." Huh? Exactly. If you’re really clueless you can use up a hint or two and it will show you where on the level the object is. If you don’t use the scanner or hints, though, you’ll get a 5,000-point bonus. The game is on the easy side — mainly because the objects aren’t too well hidden and there are few in the scene, anyway — so you probably don’t need to use these aids to begin with.

The game features 40 hidden object levels in total, and you’ll revisit most of them a couple of times. Each level has two hidden birds and if you click on 60 of them throughout the main game you can unlock a bonus Hidden Objects mode, available from the main menu. Hidden Objects mode allows you to replay any of the scenes you’ve visited earlier and search for an unlimited supply of hidden objects.

Also, at the end of each location you’ll amass a number of special artifacts (not stolen by the femme fatale) and you can visit the multi-room Museum of Secrets Lost from the main menu to look at your handiwork.

While it takes about an hour before you’ll find one, Samantha Swift and the Mystery from Atlantis also has some mini-games, too. Most of them are of the classic variety, be it spot the differences, color matching and other simple puzzles, but they’re all nicely tied to the story and location.

Overall, this game is somewhat fun, but it doesn’t compare to many of the other HOGs available today. For one, many others have integrated the story better with the items you’re searching for (e.g. Murder, She Wrote‘s deeper characters and plotlines) or have made the adventure game-like puzzles a more rewarding experience (Hidden Magic‘s challenging head-scratchers and awesome mini-games) or have upped the production values (Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Hidden Expedition: Devil’s Triangle), while Samantha Swift retains its cartoon-like look and lacks the same amount of detail and impressive animation. 

Perhaps if you’re a huge Samantha Swift fan you’d argue otherwise, but while Samantha Swift and the Mystery from Atlantis is still a well-designed HOG, it does little to push the series or genre forward.

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