Reviews by LunaNik

Home Sweet Home Icon
Potential not realized...
by LunaNik, USA - May 13th 2018

I expected more autonomy in my designs, rather than just choosing items that fit the customers' exact requests. I mean, why hire a designer when you know exactly what you want?

It became tedious paging through tons of similar items which lacked decent descriptions. And the inventory was rather unorganized. More logical categories would have helped; instead of multiple categories for decorative items, just "wall decor" and "floor decor" would be more intuitive. Also, I would have preferred to choose first the style, then the color. That would have provided more variety.

Lastly, there are a number of bugs. It froze up on me once. I couldn't click on one of my builders because he was behind a couch that hadn't yet been built. And the game kept telling me that curtains wouldn't fit over windows. Plus, it wouldn't play in fullscreen and the window was tiny.

This is definitely more of a time management game than an interior design game...and I would have liked the latter much better. As it stands, messing around with Sweet Home 3D is more fun.

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The Stroke of Midnight Collector's Edition Icon
Engaging and immersive...and different.
by LunaNik, USA - May 13th 2018

STORYLINE
Quite engaging. It's a historical murder mystery involving a love triangle. Eva and Vlad are in love, but Vlad's parents arrange a marriage for him with Lydia. I won't mention who is murdered and how, though. That's up to you to discover.

GAMEPLAY
It's technically a hidden object game with puzzles, but the game mechanics are different. There's no inventory; you collect items only as you need them. (Once you realize this, it explains why you can't pick up items you see...because it's not time to use them yet. A bit awkward. If you chance to pick up an item you don't yet need, right click to drop it.) HO scenes are basic lists that aren't difficult. Look to the mirrors for instructions on your next task; these frequently come in the form of poems or riddles that need to be figured out.

PRODUCTION
Stunning still graphics with lovely textures. There's not much animation except for when you navigate; you actually move through the environment, which is more realistic. Cutscenes are of the stop motion variety. (I had the volume down so I won't comment on the music, voiceovers, or sound effects.)

BOTTOM LINE
It's an extremely linear game. You have no choice regarding what to do next, but are guided from one task to the next. Even so, the challenge level is higher than most HO games being released today with their 30-second HO scenes and childish puzzles. This game requires neurons. It plays more like an old-school adventure game, really. And it's a beautifully immersive experience.

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Campfire Legends - The Hookman Icon
Short, but sweet...
by LunaNik, USA - May 11th 2018

You're off to meet your boyfriend at your family's cabin. When you arrive, he's not there...but someone else is. Excellent backstory about the origins of the Hookman legend, but I can't really say more without spoiling it.

This is more of an adventure game than a HO game. Gameplay consists of a series of logical tasks for which you generally need to find supplies. Each scene also includes at least one firefly; finding them earns you more hints. There are also some pretty good puzzles to solve.

Storyline = excellent
Gameplay = very good
Level of Challenge = good
Graphics/Animation = good
Sound/Music = very good

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RHEM 4: The Golden Fragments Icon
Mindbending puzzle adventure game...
by LunaNik, USA - May 11th 2018

You receive a black crystal and a note from Kales explaining why you must return to Rhem. When you arrive, Kales tells you your quest is to find nine golden fragments.

Fair Warning: This is game for experts in the adventure game genre. It's packed with exceedingly difficult puzzles. I recommend three things:
1. Be observant about your environment. Clues and puzzles are everywhere.
2. Take copious notes. The clues you find are frequently obscure, but the information is needed, so you have to figure out how to interpret it.
3. Make yourself a map. It's easy to get frustrated when you know where you need to go, but can't remember how to get there.

The puzzles are nearly always multi-layered in that several steps are required for the solution. Your path will, at times, be blocked until you discover how to open doors and gates, rotate bridges, and the like. This is NOT a "casual game," but one you'll be playing for days, possibly weeks.

Storyline = Minimal, but enough to give your tasks context.
Gameplay = Brilliant with lots of innovation.
Level of Challenge = Extremely difficult, but easier if you are observant, take notes, and draw a map. (The clues you'll find always lead logically to the solution. There's never an, "I don't get it" moment.)
Graphics/Animation = Fairly static and not overly detailed with some procedurally generated landscaping. However, I'd rather have awesome gameplay with bare bones graphics than lousy gameplay wrapped in state-of-the-art animation.
Sound/Music = Good, nicely ambient.

I recommend this game for adventure game fanatics, folks looking for a challenge, and puzzle lovers. I loved it and wish the previous episodes would be updated for modern computers.

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The Abbey Icon
Had potential...
by LunaNik, USA - May 11th 2018

...but waiting for the characters to walk to the next location was extremely annoying. It made me lose interest. If this game were upgraded with better navigation, it would be excellent.

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Book of Legends Icon
Pretty good for an older game...
by LunaNik, USA - May 11th 2018

Similar to The DaVinci Code, follow clues from one historical site to another to find Excalibur. To fund your journey, people will send you requests for items and photos at the sites you visit (HO scenes which are much more challenging than today's pro forma games). There's quite a lot of dialogue, but you can click through it as fast as you can read.
Storyline = 5 stars
Gameplay = 4 stars
Level of Challenge = 4 stars
Graphics/Animation = 3 stars (only because it's outdated in 2018)
Sound = 3 stars (a bit repetitive)

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Little Shop - Big City Icon
Challenging HO scenes...
by LunaNik, USA - May 11th 2018

Find items for customers in a variety of locations, including coffee shop, movie theater, park, gadget store, museum, and more. If you find all fifteen items before the timer runs out, you can go for the bonus item. (Note: The timer is quite generous, IMO, so don't feel overly rushed.)

Find the question marks in each scene to earn more hints. Each scene also includes collectibles: a sock monkey and five pigeons. At the end of each week, you'll be renovating the movie theater inside and out, choosing from three styles for each feature of the building.

Storyline = Ok. Just the minimal plot required to make sense of the gameplay.
Gameplay = Good, for a straight up HO game.
Graphics/Animation = Not bad, considering this is an older game.
Sound = Mixed. I turned the music off, but the game sounds were good.
Level of Challenge = Good. More challenging than today's parochial HO games.

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Secrets of the Dragon Wheel Icon
S-l-o-w...
by LunaNik, USA - Jan 10th 2018

Based on the demo, this game is interrupted by dialogue far too much. The player's character even talks to herself, and every time this happens, the game comes to a screeching halt until she's done talking. So much unnecessary commentary that delays gameplay.

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Margrave: The Blacksmith's Daughter Icon
Enchanting and imaginative...
by LunaNik, USA - Jan 10th 2018

I've owned this game since it came out, and it remains one of my favorites to replay. The storyline is well-developed and progresses at a perfect pace; sufficient information is provided that you know what's going on, but there are still twists and events you don't expect.

The graphics are charming and play beautifully with the fantasy theme. The music is wonderfully ambient, and the voice acting is excellent. Gameplay is a nice variety of exploration and puzzles with a few hidden object scenes. It's not horrendously difficult, but presents enough of a challenge to keep you interested.

I highly recommend this one, as well as the first episode, the Curse of the Severed Heart. Inertia doesn't currently have plans for another episode, but I hope there will be more adventures of Edwina.

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The Guest Icon
Great puzzles, worst navigation EVER.
by LunaNik, USA - Dec 3rd 2017

The story is surreal, which I like, and the puzzles are challenging. But I see no way to make this game fun...here are the problems:

• The POV constantly shakes and wobbles as if my character is attempting to walk around a pirate ship during the perfect storm whilst dead drunk. It gives me a headache, and the player should be able to shut off the effect.

• Navigating is a nightmare. Setting the sensitivity makes no difference in the ability to accurately control the cursor. Low sensitivity merely makes the mouse movement slow, while high speeds it up. But no setting makes it possible to control the movement of the cursor with any accuracy at all. The result is that you're constantly chasing the cursor, trying to line it up with the object you want to click...with limited success.

• Accessing the inventory is an unnecessary multi-step process. First, bring up the panel. Next, select the item you want. Finally, choose whether to look at, combine, or use it. Really poor design (not improved by the navigation issue). It would have been better to have the inventory panel at the bottom of the screen and scrollable, with look at (magnifying glass) and combine (plus sign) right next to the item. Otherwise, a click would mean "use."

• Puzzle controls are not standardized. One puzzle used WASD to navigate and choose, while another used X and Z to navigate. What's the point in making them different? Other than to be annoying, that is.

I really want to finish this game, but every time I play, the issues I've described make me so frustrated that I no longer care. Especially the navigation, which I wouldn't force on my worst enemy.

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The Eyes of Ara Icon
Immersive, challenging, mysterious, beautiful...
by LunaNik, USA - Nov 24th 2017

In all honesty, this is the single best FPA I've played since the Myst and Rhem series.

The environments are beautifully moody, well-rendered, and filled with mindbending puzzles that become more difficult as the game progresses. The storyline is engaging and presented at an excellent pace. And just when you think you have it figured out, there's a twist that blows your mind.

This plays like an old-school adventure game, so pay attention to notes, clues, signs, symbols, and the like. An overall brilliant game, and I hope to see more from this developer...and soon!

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Shadows: Price for Our Sins Icon
Better than most modern HO games...
by LunaNik, USA - Nov 24th 2017

...with puzzles that actually challenge and objects that are truly hidden.

Most of today's games in this genre present HO scenes you can complete in 30 seconds, because everything is in plain view. Each HO scene in this game took awhile, and all had interactive objects.

The puzzles ranged from fairly simple to frustratingly complex. One of them took me nearly 30 minutes to complete.

The storyline...if you crossed the movie Jumanji with the Redemption Cemetery series, then improved the gameplay, you'd get this game. The heroine attends a Halloween party at her friend's inherited farmhouse, only to discover a heinous historical plot that has trapped her friends...unless she resolves the ghosts' issues.

The graphics were excellent, with lots of attention to detail, fairly good animation, a beautiful palette, and one of the scariest posers I've ever seen. Play it and tell me you don't jump out of your seat when Jack's fiery spectre appears. I wish more HO games tried this hard.

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realMyst: Masterpiece Edition Icon
Still the best adventure game universe ever...
by LunaNik, USA - Apr 21st 2017

...and the benchmark by which I measure game storylines. Most fall short. It's hard to top a fictional race of people with the ability to create universes by writing books, isn't it? Most developers don't even try, sadly.

The environments are as beautiful and heartbreaking as I remember them; the animation just brings them more to life. Gameplay remains as much of a challenge as it was originally, and when I finished playing, I had pages and pages of handwritten notes, diagrams, and clues.

I also had a deep sense of accomplishment, something most modern games don't provide because their puzzles are far too easy. When you've solved the underground labyrinth in the Selenitic Age, you tend to scoff at childish puzzles like matching pairs, the Towers of Hanoi, 12-piece jigsaws, and Simon Says. That's not gaming! It doesn't even require neurons!

Lastly, the music remains one of the best game soundtracks in the history of gaming. I've listened to it regularly for more than 20 years; it still makes me smile and whisks me off to the island of Myst. I'd love to see realRIVEN and the entire series updated for modern computers.

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Epistory - Typing Chronicles Icon
Unique, innovative, beautiful, fun
by LunaNik, USA - Oct 5th 2016

I purchased Epistory on sale at another site after playing a demo and falling in love with this unique game. Graphically, it's stunning. Each isometric world unfolds before your eyes, beginning with unadorned squares of newsprint that bend, twist, and crumple into the forms of the landscape, then fade from monotone to color.

Game play is original and a breath of fresh air in an industry rife with overly violent first-person shooters, simplistic hidden object games, and copycat time management games. Move through the main world and eight sub-worlds until you've eradicated the invaders, leveled up with a new power, and defeated the "nest." The sub-worlds are modeled after classic platform games; each is a distinct biome.

Move using the E, F, J, and I keys so you can easily switch to typing words. Space bar switches from movement to typing and back; when you press it, interactions that require typing are revealed. At first, you need only type whatever word appears above each area, obstacle, or enemy. Once you gain powers, some actions will require certain powers. For example, if you're currently using "ice" and an enemy approaches that can only be defeated by fire, you'll have to type "fire" first, then the word that defeats it.

It sounds complicated, but it's really not. The learning curve is perfect, plus adaptive difficulty is built in so if you're not a fast typist, just type more slowly at the beginning when the words are small and you won't be overwhelmed when faced with "oxymoron" or "pseudonym."

Also, there are upgrades you can "purchase" with earned game points to increase the speed of your fox, make your hits on the enemy more powerful in different ways, reveal secrets on the map, and more.

Lastly, it's a fairly long game, especially if you take your time to explore each level and find all the hidden treasure chests, and I believe the replay value is high.

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Alice Behind the Mirror Icon
Not for adults.
by LunaNik, USA - Aug 27th 2016

Based on the level of challenge of hidden object scenes and puzzles, the style of the graphics, and the simplicity of the storyline, this game is for elementary schoolchildren. Someone that age would probably enjoy it, but it's just tedious for adult gamers. (I only played the demo.)

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Q.U.B.E. Icon
Loved it! More like this, please.
by LunaNik, USA - Jun 3rd 2016

PROLOGUE...
QUBE is like being in the environment of the movie Cube 2: Hypercube while playing an increasingly more complicated three-dimensional game of Sokoban with colored blocks that have different functions. If that seems confusing, it isn't once you begin playing.

ONCE UPON A TIME...
You awaken on the floor of an all-white room that resembles a padded cell. The walls, ceiling, and floor are constructed of equally-sized cubes. Your hands feel strange. When you look at them, you realize you're wearing a tight-fitting pair of gloves that appear to be fitted with electronics. A bit of color catches your eye.

PLAY THE GAME...
You must find your way through the QUBE, and each room is a puzzle. No room can be skipped; the exit door will not open until you've cracked that room's conundrum. The only colors inside the QUBE are on the function blocks, and there are five in all.
1. Red: three cubes in length, extrudes and retracts one cube at a time
2. Yellow: shaped like a staircase, extrudes all at once, three configurations depending on where you click it (3-2-1, 1-2-3, 1-2-1)
3. Blue: just one cube, retracts into springloaded position, used as a trampoline
4. Green: just one cube, but you need other function blocks to shove it around
5. Purple: not movable, consists of directional arrows and rotates the portion of the room its on

In the first sector, you merely have to figure out how to get yourself to the exit, using the blocks. But it quickly gets more complicated with the addition of lasers that need to be activated, empty function blocks where you have to decide which one must be which color, blocked exits necessitating looking for a new exit, secret areas, areas that are completely dark except for the blocks you light up, and more.

SIGHTSEEING...
The graphics are customizable, so if you have a powerful computer, you can amp everything up with depth of field, shadows, and the like. If not, you can "downsize" the graphics. I set everything to eleven and, despite the mostly white environment, I really got lost in the seemingly endless QUBE. I found it very realistic, and even creepy in spots.

Over time, the environment changes from pristine and perfect to rundown and obviously in disrepair. Tunnels and rooms become surreal and appear to have been designed by Escher. Don't rush through; take your time and look around each room. Immerse yourself.

SOUNDBOARD...
Turn it up! There are lots of ambient sounds that occur on the periphery, and they really add to the experience of being alone inside the gigantic, mysterious QUBE. Alone, that is, except for the times when you feel there are others watching you. What was that?!

EPILOGUE...
QUBE is exactly the type of game I love and will play over and over again. First person adventure has always been my favorite genre, and I wish there were more quality games available. To be honest, QUBE drew me into its universe the same way Rhem and Myst did, despite its lack of developed storyline. That's why I'd love to see a sequel...there are so many questions about the QUBE. In the meantime, I'm voluntarily going back in.

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Dead City: Love as a Cure Icon
Room for improvement in several areas...
by LunaNik, USA - Nov 18th 2014

While this game has some of the best graphics and music in the TM/Strategy genre, it suffers from a thin story line, clumsy and slow game mechanics, and repetitive gameplay.

The graphics—both map and scene—are detailed and dimensional. The overall look is medieval, but the characters are vampire goth. There's not much animation except for a looped background character in each scene. The NPCs with whom you interact (and who give you your quests) don't move or lip synch.

You have two energy levels to keep up—vigor and mana—plus money to earn. Vigor and mana are increased either by eating or resting. Money is earned through a series of jobs which you can upgrade for higher wages as you learn new skills. You're also awarded a choice of rewards at the completion of each quest.

The quests include finding items on the map, hidden object scenes, running errands for the populace, learning new skills and spells, and upgrading your clothing, steed, and home. This entails traveling from place to place on the map, one drawback to this game, as this travel time interrupts the flow of gameplay.

This has potential to be an enthralling game, but needs improvement in the areas of game mechanics and gameplay, in my opinion.

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Campfire Legends - The Babysitter Icon
Good sequel with a few issues
by LunaNik, USA - Jul 14th 2014

The Babysitter plays much like The Hookman. It is a Hidden Object Adventure, but there are no lists. Instead, you find things as you need them...no finding extraneous objects, which is nice. It is just as creepy as The Hookman, but without the jump-in-your-seat scares. Frankly, the story could have used a bit of fleshing out.

I don't know whether it was just me, but none of the cutscenes played for me, including meeting the parents, finding the twins, and all of the videos. I missed them all. Nor is it a computer issue on my end. Also, I presume there was one at the end, which I also missed. That took a lot away from the game, as I missed out on quite a bit of story line.

Finding the required items was definitely a challenge, as there were always a lot of places to look, and the items were well-hidden. Using the items was reminiscent of an Adventure Game. The lack of hand-holding was a breath of fresh air.

Subsequent to the end of the main game, you unlock Dr. Haken's notebook by completing nine Hidden Object scenes, each in under five minutes. I did have to repeat several of these. Once again, the lack of cutscenes led to confusion regarding the story line. Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable game, and a fitting sequel to The Hookman.

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The Otherside: Realm of Eons Icon
The Otherside: Realm of Eons
by LunaNik, USA - Jul 28th 2010

The demo for this game is extremely buggy. Every scene loads very slowly. The cursor moves jerkily and often freezes the instant you click on something. At one point, two different scenes loaded at once, one atop the other.

It looks like it might be a decent game, but it needs to be sent back to beta testing.

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Haunted Hotel Icon
Haunted Hotel
by LunaNik, USA - Aug 7th 2008

I hesitate to criticize, because I'm unable to create such games. However, the graphics were poorly Photoshopped (the doors looked "pasted" on the walls rather than filling openings, the same items were in every room, and the perspective was mostly off). There was a lot of text between scenes, mostly in extremely poor English. As to gameplay, at times one item was so completely behind another that it was impossible to find without using a hint. I wouldn't recommend this game, but I would recommend that the creator refine his skills before releasing another.

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