Enchantia: Wrath of the Phoenix Queen
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Developer: Blue Tea Games
Genre: Hidden Object/Adventure
Release Date: 02/15/2013
The sheer amount of HOGs that get released makes it very hard for any one particular game to stand out. Often, the developers of said games resort to using famous books or movies as inspiration to give their game a boost. It’s very rare to see a HOG with its own world and characters. Enchantia is one of those rare games, and it sticks out quite well for that reason.
In the land of Enchantia, things are about to get bad. The Phoenix Queen, an avatar of destruction hellbent on burning the world to the ground, has decided that the world is corrupt and could use with a reboot. This is troubling for the current natives of Enchantia, who want to avoid horrible burning death at all costs. In particular is you, the apprentice of a historian researching said queen. Thankfully, it turns out you are a creature of prophecy, and actually have every chance to take the queen down once and for all.
What’s nice here is that Enchantia is a fairly well fleshed out place. There are multiple kingdoms, races, and characters each with their own back stories and agendas. The elves fell to a Phoenix Queen attack five hundred years ago, so few remain. The dwarves are coming off of a bloody civil war, and two tribes of humans are on the brink of war after years of uneasy peace. Most of these people are too wrapped up in their own little worlds to see the danger of the queen, but thankfully they’ll help you out if you help them out a bit first. It ends up becoming a reasonably satisfying story, even if it takes some odd turns and/or resorts to tired cliches once in a while. There’s even a part in the game where you’re allowed to make an interesting choice. Lives are your hands, and the choice has to made to continue the game. I don’t think I’ve seen any HOG do that.
Let’s just say that I’ve played quite a few HOGs over the past year and a half. I’ve seen many new worlds. This is one I’d actually care to explore further. It’s a setting worthy of a AAA RPG.
The world Enchantia is fairly pretty to look at. There’s a decent amount of variety, the kind you’d normally find in a platformer. There’s the mystical forest, the snowy mountaintops, the stone city, and even some war torn plains. The art is enjoyable to look at, although things can get a bit grainy. I did appreciate how much detail went into the various items you find. Character models were solid for the most part. They look great in cutscenes and when they’re standing around. However, they tend to look awkward when they become enlarged for certain story sections. The animations are stiff for the most part, but can occasionally work. There was one odd instance where a man was stuck on a loop of moving as if he was speaking his first line over and over again. There was no sound, but that didn’t stop him from moving his lips and gesturing with his hands.
Musically, the game follows the typical path and does nothing to distinguish itself. Most of the tunes are relaxing and low key. You’ll hardly notice them while playing the game. There are some more dramatic pieces for when things pick up, but it’s generic stuff at best. The voice acting is actually quite good apart from two of the twenty or so voice characters. That’s a fairly solid record for a Big Fish Game. There’s a lot of voice acting as well, and the strong performances help create interesting characters. Sound effects in the game are typical like the music. Overall, it’s an above average performance thanks to the voices.
Most hidden object games tend to use the same setup. You have a written list of items that you need to find, some of which are marked special because you need to do something in order for that item to appear. Here however, things are different. All of the hidden object sections are picture based. You’ll need to create some sort of item by finding all of the pieces on a static screen. This is either better or worse depending on the player’s preference. It can makes things go quicker, as the items you’re searching for stick out more because they tend to be oddly shaped.
The adventure portions of the game are pretty much par for the course. If you see some loose soil on the ground, you’ll need to dig it up with that shovel you found earlier. If a room is too dark to see, you might need to put together a lantern and hang it up. All of this is done with the mouse and simple left clicks. A map system allows you to quickly move from one large area to another, and a hint system puts you on course if you get stuck.
There are also numerous puzzles throughout the game. Most of the standards are there in some form or fashion, but there are some more unique puzzles as well. One has you mixing elements to create specific combinations. For example, mixing fire and water creates steam. There were also a number of puzzles that tasked you with managing several items at once, where moving one would affect one or more of the others. You’d have to set it up so all the pieces fell into place at the same time. It was almost a running theme, and it was certainly interesting.
If there’s one complaint I had about the game is that it gets kind of lazy at points. You’ll have to revisit hidden object sections, often three or four in a row, in order to get a bunch of items you need to progress. It adds a lot of backtracking to a game that already had plenty of it.
Playing through the game won’t take long at all. At most, it will take four hours. The hidden object sections are much shorter than in usual games because finding pictures is easier than figuring out what pictures are associated with specific words. Many of the items you find in the game have immediate obvious uses, so there’s a lot less random clicking. However, the game does offer some bonus puzzles to complete after you’ve beaten the game. There aren’t that many, but it’s a nice gesture that more games should offer.
The collector’s edition comes with a number of niceties that make it superior to the regular version. There’s a bonus chapter that serves as a nifty prologue to the main game. It delves further into the lore and introduces some new characters to boot. It also offers the typical wallpapers, concept art, and music selection for you to browse. Some of the concept art was pretty neat. There were storyboards for some major scenes in the game. Also included were character bios for all of the characters in the game. That furthers the idea that this game is introducing a new world that we’ll hopefully get to revisit sometime in the future.
Short Attention Span Summary
Enchantia: Wrath of the Phoenix Queen is hardly the best hidden object game on the market. However, it does offer the beginnings of a promising new franchise. The world is much more fleshed out that in comparable titles, and the game strives to create its own identity. It does a number of things right that are usually overlooked in the genre. This is easily recommendable to HOG fans, and I’m hoping that we get to visit Enchantia again sometime in the near future.
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