Mysteries of the Undead: The Cursed Island
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Developer: 8 Floor Games
Genre: Hidden Object/Adventure
Release Date: 05/01/2103
With a new Dead Island game out, one might think it madness to release a competing zombie title. Of course, calling MofU a competing title is giving it too much credit. I doubt there is much crossover in the core demographics. However, one can’t help but find the timing interesting. Perhaps this is a similar case to that of SyFy releasing cheap knock off movies at the same time the real deals are being viewed in theaters. Maybe 8 Floor and Big Fish are hoping to snag a few customers who are in the market for a new zombie game, but don’t want to spend full retail to get it.
If there are people like that out there, I’d suggest they still stay far away from this game.
It all starts with an island, as it so often does. What was once a hot party zone has now become a zombie infested madhouse. A â€œcrack teamâ€ is sent in to figure out what’s going, including a young woman named Eve. I’m not sure what her role in the group is, but she’s a part of it. Also a part of it are a bunch of guys in t-shirts and an angry looking soldier. If their job is to kill zombies, they are ill prepared for it. When Eve packs her things to head to the island, she brings only a radio and a compass. Yep. Cause that will do you a load of good against undead monsters.
Anyways, even though they’re already heading to the island, they’re somehow still hit with a savage storm that sinks their boat and strands Eve on a beach. Plus her radio is ruined. That leaves her with just a compass. What follows could have been an interesting survival story, but ends up being a confused jumble of common HOG tropes. There’s a witch doctor, people who won’t help you unless you perform some inane action for them, a smoke monster than menaces you at every turn, and an ancient curse dealing a demon and a group of brave warriors.
It’s a mess. On top of that, there are a number of things that are silly or just plain stupid. Firstly, if the main bad guy is a smoke monster that turns people into zombies, than why doesn’t he just turn Eve into a zombie? Why does he let her go through the process of bringing about his demise? Also, why does he turn into a some random dude with a bio-hazard t-shirt at the end? Why on earth would a guy surrounded by zombies refuse to leave unless you bring him chocolate? How does the gruff soldier get into a hotel room before you’ve unlocked it? And why does he stay put until you find him a gun? Wouldn’t he feel obligated to help you? Why does Eve drop every zombie killing weapon she finds, including an axe, a crowbar, a pipe, and others? Why, when surrounded by murderous zombies, does one refuse to pick up an axe because it has a little blood on it? Why does she just sit there and watch as a zombie drags her captain into a room, where he will surely be devoured? Hell. Why does the zombie bother to drag the guy away instead of chowing down right then and there? All of this, and there is yet one more important question to ask. WHY THE HELL DOES A GAME ABOUT A ZOMBIE INFESTED ISLAND HAVE NO ZOMBIES IN IT? Seriously. You find one at the beginning, kill it, and then you never touch a single one again. A few show up in backgrounds, but for the most part this is a uninhabited island with a bunch of blood strewn about the place. It makes me damn sure that this game wasn’t supposed to be a zombie game. I’m positive they were thrown in at the last minute.
Visually, the game is above par in most regards. There are a number of good looking models and environments. The zombies look pretty darn good as well, even if there are only a few of them. The exception would be the hidden object sequences. They look odd, and they are overly cramped even by genre standards.
I had to turn the sound down really low when I played this. The music was just that annoying. They play the same few tunes over and over again, including one with a sonar ping that is ear splitting. It also doesn’t really work thematically. You spend very little time on a boat. The effects are about what you’d expect, which is to say serviceable. They certainly don’t reach above mediocre.
Chances are you’ve played a HOG before. If not, all you need to know is that they typical HOG found on Big Fish is split into three parts. You have the hidden object sequences, the point and click adventure gameplay, and the mini-games.
The hidden object sequences are some of the worst I’ve ever seen. It’s a common thing to have a word on your list seem vague or misleading, but this game takes it to a whole new level. It will tell you find â€œshoesâ€, but the thing you need to click on is a single sneaker. It will tell you to find a shell, but you actually need to click on the pearl inside of the shell. Even worse, there were times when the object on the list was not in any way remotely related to the object I needed to click on. At one point, I need to find a cup. There was no cup. I thought I was going crazy. I used the hint button, and the ensuing magical light highlighted an umbrella. I clicked the umbrella, and got a message that said â€œThis cup is missing a handleâ€. I go find an umbrella handle, attach it to the umbrella, and it crosses cup off my list. Yeah. That happened. And that kind of thing happened more than once. Unless you thing another word for the number two is â€œhunterâ€.
Pointing and clicking is the way to go for the adventure sections. Click on the right object, and it goes into your inventory. Drag that item from your inventory to the right spot on the screen, and something happens. Keys open doors, screwdrivers remove screws, and so on and so forth. There were some odd moments though. At one point, you need to raise a latch from the other side of a door. You use fishing line attached to a fishing lure to do this. I have no idea how. You’re also very restricted as far as what you can use to do certain things. At one point, you need to get some seawater and pour it into a machine. The empty plastic bottle you have can’t be used. This kid of thing is typical for the genre, but it is till a pain the butt. Also, I had a situation where I loaded the game and discovered an item had disappeared from my inventory. It was no longer available in the game, and I had to restart the whole thing because I couldn’t possibly move forward. On the bright side, you do have a nifty map that lets you teleport to locations where you have actions to perform.
The mini-games are hit and miss. Some are classic puzzles. Others are mindless nonsense. There’s a point where you have to play a game of Simon, except you have to repeat even one button patterns. That’s just boring and ridiculously easy. Thankfully, these can be skipped after a few seconds with no penalty.
The hint system is a joke. It will often point you to an area where you can’t do anything, and you’ll have to resort to blind luck in order to figure out your next objective. At one point, it wanted me to zoom in on a cash register and place a button on it. The problem was, there were two buttons missing and I wasn’t allowed to put one on until I found the other.
There are even more problems. The game is very buggy. Usually when you click on something, the top of the screen displays a thought from your character. This might clue you in on what you need to do or simply add some flavor to the proceedings. In this game, instead of thoughts, random file names would appear. This happened in one case where a character was supposed to stand up. He didn’t. When I clicked on him, the file name for the animation popped up. I had to leave the room and come back in order to get him to work the way he was supposed to. Also, the cursor is misaligned. If you want to click on something, you have to aim slightly higher than usual, or nothing will happen. That’s just bad game design.
In the end, this game is not worth fifty cents, let alone ten bucks. I’m annoyed that I had to spend even a few hours playing it. Between the insipid story, misleading hidden object sequences, and game breaking bugs, I didn’t enjoy a single moment of it. So far, this is my pick for worst game of the year.
Short Attention Span Summary
Who makes a zombie game with barely any zombies in it? Who releases a game to the public when it’s so far from completion that file names pop up instead of animations? I want answers to these questions and more. Even if I get them, I doubt I’ll be satisfied. Mysteries of the Undead is a terrible game, and the worse hidden object game I’ve ever played. I recommend it to no one, no matter how desperate they are for some zombie killing.