Sep 16, 2011
Hidden item games are some of the biggest time sinks to grace any platform, and Android devices are no different. Maybe it is because they are so easy to pick up and play, or maybe the stunning visuals play a part, or some combination in-between. Either way, there is a reason these games continue to grace every kind of device and grip players like cheese catches mice.
The Mystery of the Crystal Portal is just one such item hunting game. The game begins with a short story about a woman who returns to her father’s home, only to find the front door locked and no sign of her dad anywhere. It is then up to the player to trace down clues as to where the father disappeared to, and this is a journey that will take players around the world in search of pieces to the Crystal Portal key.
While the narrative is not going to be transformed into a blockbuster movie, the gameplay is where the bulk of the interest is at. Players will need to hunt down various key items throughout several stages to unlock clues and continue the story. However, finding these items are not as easy as it may sound at first. There may be a clue in a bird nest, but a ladder is necessary to reach said bird nest. This will send players to a new stage to solve even more puzzles in order to find the hidden ladder. As parts of the stage puzzles are solved, new items are revealed, the stage morphs and changes, and the hunting continues until there is nothing left to do in that particular area.
Super sleuths are not alone in their hunting and gathering of items. Key items will glow green to indicate what should be tapped on to see what puzzle items are necessary. For example, a trash can maybe a key story item, but tapping it will show that the player needs to find a phone, paper, and globe to solve the trash can riddle. If one gets totally stumped, there is a gracious hint system that will direct players to story items, as well as puzzle items. This hint system does come in very handy at times, and helps break new people into just how well some things are hidden into each world, as well as alleviating the frustrations of having to tap all over the screen in hopes to move the game along. Finally, there are various logic games to help breakup all the item hunting, and these provide a nice change of pace throughout the game.
As for the presentation, this is one well-assembled game. Each location will bring on new themes that will fit the geographic location of where the story is taking place. Lamps will sway in the wind, trees rustle and sway, boats bob up and down, and various items will burn and smolder if they are on fire. Their color pallet knows no boundaries, and the eyes will be thankful for this hand-drawn goodness. The audio is subtle, yet perfectly fitting for this style of game as well. The sound of waves crashing on boats will fill ears of those in the shipping docks, while birds will sing to those on temple grounds. The attention to atmosphere will certainly bring people back for a second play through.
The biggest downside to this game is the sudden end to it, and keep in mind there is a second story coming out. However, when the player hits the end of the line, it is extremely abrupt, almost feeling like the game development was cut short at that point. This can cause some confusion, as well as frustration, but it does provide the hook to make players excited for the second part of this tale.
Overall, this game looks and sounds amazing, provides a great pick and play mechanic, with just enough story to pull gamers in. The game is free for the first four levels, and those that wish to finish the tale can unlock the rest from within from within the app. If only Waldo was this much fun to find!