Not long ago, I devoted one of my columns to HOGs, that is, Hidden Object Games, which I play incessantly at my computer. The nature of these fun-time activities was discussed in that composition, so please consult it on Space and Time Magazine’s website. The only additional thing I will say here is that I suggested any game-player who needs help should consult either Big Fish Games’s walk-throughs, as they are called, or those offered by Gamezebo.com. Up till now I have preferred the latter of the two because whenever they provide a “screen shot,” Gamezebo permits one to enlarge it to see greater detail. Unfortunately, I have found lately that after I get well into their walk-throughs, a garish advertisement entirely overlays the screen, making it very difficult to read whatever it is superimposed upon. Gamezebo is doing itself a great disservice with this annoying ad; they should get rid of it.
In the former piece I wrote, I recommended a number of fantasy games. This time I will focus on four excellent mysteries, instead.
The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes, from Uclick Digital Entertainment, Gamehouse, and Legacy Interactive, offers sixteen cases. As mysteries, they are mostly adequate, though there are a few splendid ones … especially the final case, which brings Holmes and Watson up against Professor Moriarty.
The hidden object screens are quite challenging. There are two kinds, the usual venue with a list of things to find, but also a split screen in which one must find the differences between the objects in the two views. The latter is especially challenging. A number of puzzles related to the various cases are also included. Most are fairly easy to solve, but a few are major headache inducers and sent me hurrying to check out the walk-throughs.
The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes 2, from Legacy Interactive, is, in my opinion, slightly better than the first set, mainly because the player does not work against a time limit, as he or she must in the earlier game. There are several good stories to work through, my favorites being one involving a search for an eccentric’s will, and the sixteenth case, in which Irene Adler not only is the chief culprit, but it also involves two other actors, none other than Charles Chaplin (!) and (Arthur) Stanley Jefferson, the real name of Stan Laurel. The hidden object searches and the puzzles are similar to the first series.
Murder, She Wrote, from Big Fish Games and Legacy Interactive, is a superior set of five mysteries involving Jessica Fletcher, from the old TV show. Other characters are also included, especially Seth, the doctor, who was played by my late friend William Windom (yes, the same man who appeared in a major role in an early Star Trek episode).
These are genuine mysteries, lengthy and challenging and not easy to solve. The hidden object scenes are fairly difficult, and each new scene requires one to find a hidden typewriter ribbon, as well as typewriter keys A, E, I, O, U, and Y. Each list of hidden objects misses these letters; until they are located, the list is not easy to read. Puzzles, when they occur, are directly connected to the case at hand, such as trying to identify which buoy belongs to which fisherman.
The fourth and final HOG that I highly recommend is Penny Dreadfuls – Sweeney Todd, produced by PlayPond. (I assume it is one word; that’s how it shows up on screen).
The production for this item is quite grand, I thought. The story is divided into six chapters, and each is prefaced by one or more of the main characters singing to advance the plot or/and reveal character. This, by the way, has almost nothing to do with Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd, which has very little to do with the original barnstormer melodrama by George Dibdin Pitt (my acting version of it is available from Wildside Press). The HOG version is much closer to the original, though it, too, takes liberties, but all in all, this “Todd” has considerable dramatic force.
In it, the player works with a voice-over-only police investigator to find clues and evidence in the disappearance of the sailor Mark and later, the murder of a degenerate clergyman and then Sweeney’s pie-making mistress Mrs. Lovett. (You do know what she uses to fill her pastries?)
There are twenty-four difficult hidden object hunts as well as twelve puzzles, a few of which are easy, while most are challenging, and a few are utterly maddening! (To the walkthroughs!) At the end of each chapter, one first must assemble a picture puzzle, but this is not difficult for when a piece is put into the correct spot, it aligns itself and then cannot be moved. Once the puzzle is done, the player’s progress is rated. The worst I did was to be rated a gumshoe (C -) but I improved till I became a Watchman (A).
All of these games are well worth acquiring and playing. I have listed them in order of how well I liked them.