Review: Curse at Twilight: Thief of Souls Collector’s Edition (PC)

Curse at Twilight: Thief of Souls Collector’s Edition
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Developer: Amaranth Games
Genre: Adventure/Hidden Object
Release Date: 01/02/2012

The sheer rate at which they can release these hidden object games is astonishing. If you were to play nothing but hidden object games for the rest of your life, there would still be too many to count. When you see multiple releases each week, it’s staggering. No one man could ever help to tackle them all.

Of course, one could always try.

So here I am again. This month, I’ve already reviewed four titles in this genre, the best of which was Dorian Gray, and it has raised my standards considerably. Since I’ve been spending so much time with this genre as of late, I’m getting pretty stringy on the accolades. Still, I went into Cursed at Twilight with plenty of gusto. I don’t like to play anything half-hearted if I can help it. Besides, these games are quite fun and rife with interesting puzzles to solve. What’s not to love?

So, will number five meet up with my higher demands, or this one hidden object game that should have stayed hidden? (Oh shut up. I had to make that joke sooner or later.)

Story

So the story of Cursed at Twilight take a few liberties with common sense, but let’s go with it. You play a young woman. One night, a strange letter blows into her doorway and invites her to a party at a manor. Most people would be suspicious, but not our heroine. Instead, she walks right through the gate, gets trapped inside, and acts surprised.

As it turns out, a ghost has brought her here with the intention of trapping her within the building forever. Luckily, past guests linger throughout and give her a way out. All she has to do is find the magic ring, and the curse will be broken. In order to retrieve the key, several doorways need to be entered that lead to new realms. In each realm, a piece of the puzzle can be found and eventually, the ring will be recovered.

There’s some dialogue, but there isn’t really much of a story beyond the setup. There’s all of one meaningful conversation in the entire game, and all that does is tell you what your goal is. Still, the threat of becoming a permanent resident is daunting enough to see you through. The constant change of scenery also keeps things interesting, as you head to a pirate cove, a small farm, a crowded city, and even a take on Wonderland. These miniature stories within the story aren’t much on their own, but there’s enough here to satiate most players.

Basically, it wasn’t a truly fulfilling tale, but it was good enough that I didn’t regret the time I put into it.

Graphics

The game has a pretty basic Victorian look, which makes sense given that it takes place in a Victorian mansion. There are plenty of creepy statues, wrought iron fences, dark lighting. The art isn’t a great example of the style, but it works nonetheless.

The human models aren’t the worst I’ve ever seen for this kind of game, but they aren’t exactly great looking either. They kind of look stunted, almost as if they were dwarfs. There isn’t much animation, and much of it is implied. I won’t bother faulting the game for what little is there. The dialogue is usually given in text bubbles or via static character models.

Overall, this is a decent looking game, but it does nothing to set itself apart. This is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from the genre.

Audio

The music for Twilight is pretty standard for this stuff. It’s low key, background music with a spooky edge. It fits great for background noise, but it’s nothing you would ever actively listen to. It’s fitting, which is important, and the tunes are decent as a whole.

The voice acting isn’t great, but when you compare it to most games in the genre, it’s pretty darn good. There is actual inflection in the voices, and the characters actually seem to be putting some effort into their performances. There isn’t that much of it, but I was pleasantly surprised by what was in the game.

The rest of the package is pleasant as well, filled with spooky sounds and fitting effects. Overall, this is a solid package that rises above the riff raff, but doesn’t truly excel. I was never tempted to turn the sound off, but I won’t be going back for more any time soon.

Gameplay

I was expecting pretty much the same kind of thing I’ve gotten from the other four adventure games I’ve reviewed this month. I was mostly right, but there was major change that almost puts this game in a separate genre.

There are a LOT of hidden object puzzles in this game. Some are basic examples where you view a static screen a hunt for objects off of a list. Then, these sections can be replayed later on, but with a twist. You’ll be given a number of objects, and need to find the item onscreen that goes with it. For example, a bird goes with a nest. This was cool enough, but there was another variation where you are given word clues. They were like mini-riddles.

That’s not even all of the hidden object goodness in this game. Like most adventure games, you’ll need to click on objects to add them to your inventory. Items in your inventory are used in puzzles in order to open up new areas, solve puzzles, or simply find another item. However, many of these grabbable items are broken up into several pieces, meaning you’ll need to scour the area for each piece. You’ll spend a grand majority of this game finding things, even more so than solving puzzles. For fans of that kind of game, this will hit the spot.

One thing this game does that I rather enjoyed, which of course also employs a hidden object mechanic, is the map system. Each screen has coins hidden throughout. Once you find all of the coins, you unlock that area on the map. Once an area is unlocked, you can warp there by simply clicking it on your map. This saves a lot of travel time, and was something I wish every game had. The game also keeps track of how many activities you need to perform in each area. Once you’ve done them all, you’ll know that you never need to return. These are seemingly small additions that make the game much more enjoyable to play.

The puzzles in the game are pretty basic, but often feature multiple steps. For example, one puzzle has you taking various shaped stones and placing them on a pre-made shape so that they all fit. After you complete this task, you’ll need to do a few more of these puzzles. Each one is different, so there is little repetition. I didn’t find the puzzles particularly hard in this game, as they stuck simple ideas that most people are familiar with. Still, there are plenty of them and they’re fun ones to complete.

I may not be the biggest fan of hidden object games in general, but this game pulled it off quite well. Add on the many fun puzzles and clever map mechanics, and this was one of the more enjoyable games to play in this genre. You’re never long without something to look for, and that’s what’s important.

Replayability

Like most games of this type with a Collector’s Edition, this game features a bonus chapter. However, this chapter is actually integrated into the main story. When you reach the final credits, you’ll have already played it. The game pulls this off without a hitch, and I’m left wondering how the story even goes without the content.

The game will likely take you somewhere between four to five hours to complete. This depends on your skill at hidden object puzzles, and how much you abuse the hint button. It’s pretty standard length for the genre, and there’s also no reason to replay it. The puzzles don’t change, and higher difficulties simply restrict your ability to abuse hints.

Balance

This is one of the easier games in the genre that I’ve played. This is because the puzzles aren’t too complicated, and are fairly easy to complete, even if they take some time to do so. Also, knowing for sure that you’ve completed all tasks in an area takes a lot of the guesswork out.

There are two difficulty settings, as per usual. The harder setting simply makes you wait longer between uses of the hint button and removes interactivity indicators. The game will still be easy to go through, it just might take longer.

Like all casual adventure games, this one sacrifices sheer challenge for accessibility. However, all you need to do to keep the challenge up is simply not use the hints, or in game strategy guide. If you can resist the temptation, then good for you.

Originality

Even though I’ve played more than my fair share of these types of games in the past month, I can’t claim to be an expert on them. While this game does things that I personally haven’t seen yet, I’m sure they exist in other titles. That makes it hard to give many points for originality.

However, I’ll give the game some credit, in that it manages to feel different than similar games thanks to the heavy hidden object focus. This will help soften the blow of a low score for this section.

Addictiveness

Like most games in the genre, this was hard to walk away from. I pretty much played through it in one sitting, at one point spending three or four hours straight working my way through it. I had to take a couple of breaks, but I came back in quick manner. While I’m not the biggest fan of hidden object games, they’re still quite addictive because they are so easy to play and puzzles are simply satisfying to solve.

This game could have earned extra points with a more pressing story, but it still manages to meet the mean for the genre, which is nothing to sneeze at. When you go to play this game, make sure you have some time on your hands, because you will want to keep going.

Appeal Factor

Since I’m writing near the same thing for every game in this genre that I review, you’d think I’d have a stock paragraph or two to turn to. However, I have that special kind of lazy that refuses to do anything involving planning ahead. It might mean more work in the future, but future me can deal with that when it comes up.

The genre is niche at best, but has a certain accessibility to help bring in new people. Then again, at the rate they release these games, there must be legions of fans I don’t know about. I’m not exactly in touch with the causal games audience. I do know that these games tend to attract a different audience than something like CoD. That’s pretty nifty in and of itself.

Miscellaneous

This game offers a decent collection of bonuses for people who pony up for the CE.

Firstly, there’s the bonus chapter. The game honestly seems like it wouldn’t even work without this content, so it’s definitely worth the extra dough.

Beyond that, you can listen to the game’s soundtrack, view concept art, and use one of the game’s included wallpapers. These backgrounds are nifty enough if you’re a big enough fan of the game, but they’re not too great otherwise.

It offers what I’m considering the basics. Any CE that doesn’t offer at least what this game does is a drastic letdown at this point.

The Scores
Story: Decent
Graphics: Decent
Audio: Enjoyable
Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Dreadful
Balance: Mediocre
Originality: Very Poor
Addictiveness: Very Good
Appeal Factor: Decent
Miscellaneous: Above Average
Final Score: Decent Game!

Short Attention Span Summary

With enough helpful gameplay additions and a heavy focus on hidden object puzzles, Curse at Twilight proves to stand above the typical casual adventure title. It might not have the strongest story, but it offers a solid, enjoyable experience from start to finish. In particular, if you enjoy hidden object puzzles more so than the adventure mechanics, this game will work out great for you. Fans of the genre should definitely give this game a look.

Tags: , , ,

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *