Flights of Fancy: Two Doves Collector’s Edition
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Developer: ERS Game Studios
Genre: Hidden Object/Adventure
Release Date: 09/13/2013
One of the things that drives me nuts about the hidden object genre is that you often have no idea what the game is actually about by the name. With Flights of Fancy, I thought I was in a pleasant story about a couple of birds. Instead, I got yet another fantasy story where there just happened to a be a pair of magical doves. I’m not really taking points away from the game for this, but this is my review and I’ll complain about what I want to complain about.
Anyway, just because the title is a tad misleading, doesn’t mean the game is any less interesting. As a matter of fact, I give the game some credit because at least it seem to fully realize its ideas instead of just dropping you off and forgetting about the story until the conclusion.
You play as a countess in a magical land. Long ago, peace was brought to the land when the forces of good gave the people two magical doves. The doves were full of immense magical power, and when brought together could change the world. Your family has safeguarded one of the doves for generations, until the beginning of this game. What happens is someone starts turning all of your subjects into figurines in order to steal your dove. It’s up to you to find the culprit and put a stop to his plans before he can bring about the apocalypse. Yep. That’s how strong these doves are.
The game works on a basic level because it has a number of characters. More importantly, these characters continuously show up and do things that push the story forward. I can’t thing of a single character that showed up once, said a line or two, and that vanished into the night. It was refreshing. However, the story does fall apart at the end because it gets a bit vague. Part of that is because the real answers aren’t given until the bonus chapter. Even then, the happier ever after ending seems rushed and forced. It was not a good conclusion to an otherwise enjoyable tale. I also wasn’t a fan of the artist character. Besides making a silly LotR reference, his job is to tell you a very simple tale one or two sentences at a time. Each time, you must bring him a pencil to get the tiniest bit of information. Worst of all, the story he tells is something the countess would probably already be familiar with. It would be like if a someone tried telling you the story of Humpty Dumpty as if you hadn’t heard it hundreds of times already.
Visually, the game works. It starts things off with a cinematic that is light years ahead of what the competition is doing. While it doesn’t keep that level of technical achievement up, the world still looks good. Bright colors and detailed environments go a long way. There are numerous characters that each look distinct. Facial animations are a bit off, but still better than the norm. I really don’t have a complaint in this department. This is one of the best looking hidden object games I’ve seen since I started reviewing them.
It falls apart a little on the aural side of things. The voices are hit and miss, but fail conceptually. No two actors have the same accent, including the ones supposedly from the same region. It’s disorientating. Tack on the two or three performances that are plain bad, and it gets pretty hard to justify keeping the sound on. The music is pretty much just there. It’s serviceable, but generic and uninteresting. Run-of-the-mill audio effects round out a pretty unremarkable package.
I thought the game was going to do something interesting for its hidden object sequences. It started out good. Instead of crossing items off a list, I had to find objects and then use them to find other objects. For example, I had to find a jar, fill that jar with termites, loose the bugs on a tree, pick up a dropped branch, and then clear out a cobweb with said branch all in just one sequence. It was interesting. I love it when games do this. However, after the first few areas, the game reverted back to the standard format. It was back to crossing items off of lists and trying to figure out which version of the word “bow” you needed to find. The good news is that you can play a slide puzzle where you need to create specific patterns. Each pattern you make crosses off a random item, so you can in fact play through the game without ever properly completing a hidden object sequence.
The next part of the game is the classic point-and-click stuff. It works pretty much how you’d expect. Pick up hammer. Use hammer on crumbled wall. Find key behind rubble. Use key to open door. That kind of thing is what the genre is known for, and this game delivers. A handy map system lets you see what areas have objectives for you to complete, keeping you from getting too lost. However, I was less than enthused with this game’s take on the format. For starters, many of the solutions to environmental puzzles were vague or unintuitive. Early on, you pick up a couple of fairies that are supposed to help you on your journey. One uses magic orbs you find, and the other servers as your hint meter. At one point, I needed to knock an item out of a tree. I figured one of my new flying companions could help me out. Nope. Instead, I had to pick up a lion cub and have him climb the three for me. I just don’t get that. At another point, I needed to cut into a tarp. Despite having several items that could do the job, I couldn’t move forward until I found the one specific item the game wanted me to find. I’m sorry, but the big saw I had on me would have done the job a whole lot quicker than the pointy piece of crystal the game made me use. These problems run rampant in the genre, but they are still no fun to come across. I also found the game to be a bit too picky about where you had to click to interact with some objects. Many was the time when I’d click on an item to pick it up, but get nowhere. Later on, when I’d turn to the help button in desperation, it would lead me to that same item. I had the correct path, but the controls just let me down.
You also have the standard assortment of skip-able mini-games to play through as well. The classics are there, such as a jigsaw puzzle, rotating disc puzzle, and a chess board. Some of them can be quite challenging, and there’s even an option on a few of them to try out harder versions of the puzzle instead. That’s a nifty feature, and one I’d like to see incorporated in future games. Of course, as long as you can simply skip any puzzle that gets too challenging, the mini-games will be second fiddle to the rest of what the game offers.
As a collector’s edition, this game offers a few bonuses. Firstly, there’s the bonus chapter. Not only does it finish off the story, it also offers a good hour of gameplay. I found it to be a longer than average game in general, so including this makes the game even more worth the asking price. In addition, there is the standard assortment of concept art, wallpapers, screen savers, and music to thumb through. You can also view the cinematics as well as replay mini-games in your spare time. Overall, the game seems to offer more bang for your buck than many of its competitors.
Short Attention Span Summary
While I wasn’t enthralled with Flights of Fancy, I did find it a very solid hidden object game. It could have been great. It started out with an interesting story and a fun take on hidden object sequences. However, it fell to industry standards and cliches, leaving it less than it could have been. If you’re going to play this game, this is the version to get, because otherwise you won’t get the full experience. That being said, I could easily recommend this game to a fan of the genre. It’s solid overall, and offers a better than average amount of content. Just don’t expect anything phenomenal.
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