First impressions on a few HOGs

I do play quite a few casual games, though I’ve never really talked on it (hardly anyone I know plays /cries), especially with the amazing reviews out there already. But I guess I’ll give it a go. The genre I play most are time management games, but I recently got into the mood to play hidden object games. I’m not an avid fan of HOGs since they can start to bore me if there’s no real compelling story-line. But when they do have one, mixed together with lovely graphics, music etc. they do make an engrossing game.

So I tried out the trials of these three games via BFG as they were popular, and/or had decent reviews. Trials can be pretty addictive since you get to try out many games, even if there’s an hour limit.

Explore the Nightingale Theater, which was ravaged by a devastating fire 40 years ago, and uncover a dark mystery! After receiving a letter and a golden ticket in the mail from your grandfather you are off to see an amazing ballet performance. With fantastic graphics and an incredibly mystery, Macabre Mysteries: Curse of the Nightingale will draw you in to a beautiful world.

I played Macabre Mysteries: Curse of the Nightingale first as the idea of ballet and theatres piqued my interest, though it handled wrongly it can get old. Anyway, you play the granddaughter, whom as instructed by her grandfather, arrived at the theatre which he used to be the director of. You soon learn that you have the ability the look into the past, just like him. This gives us the chance to look at how lively the place used to be, and unravel what exactly happened before the theatre’s destruction. Though of course, things aren’t as simple and you are not alone: there’s the spirit of your grandfather, a ballerina ghost, and a hostile man who either seem to be leading you on or away.

Both the graphics and music were amazing. The abandoned theatre setting was both charming yet eerie. I also liked how the theatre has stages for not just ballet, but also Chinese opera etc. It may sound trivial but I enjoyed that. In particular though, I liked that in the hidden object scenes, you were looking for parts of stuff which you would use to progress in the game. It felt more meaningful than looking for random objects you don’t care about. The voice overs were also nicely done.

I finished the demo version rather quickly, just over half an hour. But I think I progressed quite a fair bit in the game and it would be enough for you to decide if you would feel like playing it till the end or not.

After stopping a runaway train, you must now escape from a town that is lost in time and space! Explore the mysterious city and solve its riddles to uncover the roots of a terrible disaster. Free yourself from the timeless trap as quickly as you can since the Chronometron is counting off the seconds of your life. Dive into Timeless: The Forgotten Town and use your Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure skills to survive!

Next, I tried out Timeless: The Forgotten Town, as the idea of being stuck in time and space seemed intriguing enough. Like most HOGs, you play this outsider in a sense that you’re an outside person coming in to ‘save’ the situation.  You’re led towards the town by a ghost of a bride, though a hooded figure seems to be getting in your way. However, since the story and purpose were clouded up at first, I felt a bit aimless when I first arrived at the town.

The graphics are stunning, and so is the music. Though at one point the music seemed a bit well, too adventurous. But that’s probably me being picky. The hidden object scenes comes in various forms, matching the object to the shapes, to the text, or finding the same one a number of times. But since I’m not an avid fan of them I found them one-too-many. The puzzles are pretty creative: the middle example above requires us to push the buttons in a certain order (common play), and you decipher something like a 3-panel story with it. I’m not sure if the puzzles have any meaning to the story though.

I wasn’t too used to exploring such a large area of the map, so it’s easy to get distracted by the different interactive areas. I’m pretty sure that this game will take up a sizeable amount since I almost used up the whole one hour but I had just barely scratched the surface of the town.

When a medical consultation goes terribly wrong, it’s up to you to realize the full potential of your unique ability and save the day! Discovering that other people have similar gifts as yours, you realize that evildoers would do anything to possess your talents. Dive into F.A.C.E.S. and explore gorgeous Hidden Object scenes to become a hero!

I probably, by coincidence, saved the best for last. The summary doesn’t really do justice to F.A.C.E.S. so here’s my weak attempt: you discover that you have an unique ability to travel to locations depicted in photographs. In an attempt to control/do something about it, you visit this centre. However, you end up getting locked up, experimented on, and being forced to steal objects with your ability. This continues till you overhear that your next experiment will be your last (and you will probably be disposed off after). In order to avoid this fate, you take action in order to escape. At the same time, you learn more about this dreaded asylum you are locked in, as well as other subjects with their own unique abilities being experimented on as well.

Everything just seems to fall into place so perfectly, and adds to the cold atmosphere of the faculty – from the music with creepy sounds of laughing, to the cursor which changes to an eyeball/worn-out hand in interactive areas, to the details in the hidden object scenes and puzzle areas. The hint system works well and recharges within good time if you’re playing in casual mode. I finished the demo version well within one hour and it let you play a rather desirable amount.

I do recommend trying out the game at least to experience it for yourself, and see just how much you are intrigued by it.

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