Review: Apothecarium: The Renaissance of Evil Premium Edition (PC)
by Aaron Sirois on July 4, 2013

apothecariumcover

Apothecarium: The Renaissance of Evil Premium Edition
Publisher: Gamehouse
Developer: Space Monkey Games Factory International
Genre: Hidden Object/Adventure
Release Date: 06/12/2013

It’s time again for another hidden object game! Hooray! But what’s this? You can skip any hidden object scene and play a match three puzzle game instead? How unique!

Actually, Space Monkey Games Factory International (gotta love that name) seems to have a knack for this sort of thing. Just last year, I played Sister’s Secrecy: Arcanum Bloodlines. It’s by the same group of guys and features that same hook. So, it remains to be seen if SMGFI has anything else up their sleeve to help Apothecarium stand out.

So we’re in the Medieval Ages….or the Renaissance. I’m not sure. The story says one thing, but the title and characters say another. Either way, there’s a scary plague going around killing entire villages. The bastion of hope is the city of Apothecarium. There the best and brightest minds have banded together to find a cure. Only things don’t appear to be going well. You arrive in time to find one scientist mad with some incredible power. Most of the inhabitants are dead or imprisoned, and the only hope for Europe is for you to put a stop to it all.

apothecarium1Overall, I found this an amusing story, but it wasn’t fleshed out too well. The characters are so ill defined that I kept getting a couple of them confused. I was really scratching my head when I was asked to save someone that I thought I’d just rescued. The main game also ends on an awkward note. The bonus chapter is the actual conclusion to the story, so you’ll need the collector’s/premium edition to get the real ending. This isn’t an uncommon practice, but it is annoying.

Visually, the game works. Though there are technologies that shouldn’t exist (regardless of whichever era the game is supposed to take place during), it can be excused for the purposes of the game. Despite the dark and dreary atmosphere, there is a strong use of color, and every location is packed to the brim with interesting details. The character models aren’t too grand. They’re strange to look at and animate awkwardly. Thankfully, you won’t spend all that much time looking at them.

This game mixes some original creations with classical music. Obviously, that causes some dissonance. Your music is just not going to be on the same level as Beethoven. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is. While often quite good, the music is often ill fitting. It gets epic and dynamic during even the most mundane of sections. Light and breezy music should accompany hidden object sections. I shouldn’t feel like I’m in the fight of my life because I’m looking for an apple core. As for the voices, they range from acceptable to downright awful. That’s pretty much what you can expect from the genre, so I won’t count it against this game.

apothecarium2So, the hidden object sections are certainly different than normal. At any time, you can switch to a match three puzzle game. If you can get magnifying glasses to the bottom, it will cross a random item off of your list. This is great for mixing things up, and also helping to clear a few stubborn items out without resorting to using a hint. Also new to the hidden object sections are morphing objects. I. Hate. These. Let’s say you need to find a mouse. There don’t appear to be any on screen. That’s because the mouse keeps turning into a bird. Sure, it turns back into a mouse at times, but never the time your eyes pass over it. And I swear. Every time I went to click on one of these morphing objects, it would transform as I clicked on it. This meant I had to sit and wait for it to turn back before I could cross it off my list. This mechanic is stupid. It ruins the whole thing. The fun is supposed to be hunting down the items on your list. You can’t do that if the items keep changing. This is like if you played a first person shooter and your enemies randomly turned into trees….and still shot at you.

The mini-games and adventure sections run the normal course. They use simple point and click controls, are generally logical, and are fun to figure out. There are odd moments, of course. I needed to fuel up some automatons and give them hammers to strike a bell. However, I couldn’t give them their hammers until they got fuel. It made no sense. You also have to be very precise with where you use objects, or the game won’t accept it. Several times, I thought an item couldn’t be used because of slight misses, and it cost me time.

apothecarium3Where the game adds something new to the equation is the in-game store. You earn coins by completing mini-games/hidden object sequences quickly. They’re also hidden in the environments. When earned, you can spend coins in the store. There are a number of single use items available, such as extra hints, and the ability to reveal every item on your list for a moment or two. There are also permanent effects that fill up the hint meter faster, allow you to shuffle the pieces in the match three game, and others. Fret not, as this store isn’t an attempt to nickle and dime you. You’ll find plenty of coins during gameplay, and the game plays as normal without the benefits. This is just a nifty way to reward skillful players.

The premium edition comes with a number of goodies, but nothing out of the ordinary. You can view cutscenes, listen to music, save wallpapers, and all of that stuff. There’s also the bonus chapter to go through, which adds time to the game and ends the story. It’s a decent package, and it’s the full game, to be honest. A regular edition would just be missing stuff. If you’re going to play the game, this is the version you want.

Short Attention Span Summary
Apothecarium is, at first glance, a regular hidden object game. However, it does enough different to separate itself from the pack. It allows you to play a match three puzzle game instead of finding objects, and it has an in-game store that allows you to buy upgrades and consumables. This makes the game a more involved experience than the usual fare. While it might not be the best example of the genre, it’s still worth a hard look if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path.



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