House of 1,000 Doors (CE) series

House of 1,000 Doors (CE) series

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House of 1,000 Doors – Family Secrets
House of 1,000 Doors – The Palm of Zoroaster
Game Category: Casual – Adventure, Hidden Object, Horror
Developer / Distributor: Alawar Five BN / Alawar Entertainment
Release Date: 22 Mar 2012 / 22 Dec 2011 (Collector’s Editions only)

Doors of opportunities await…
The Palm of Zoroaster is one hot game

Exquisitely Done
The House of 1,000 Doors series (from Alawar Five BN) features two great adventures with very well done hidden object scenes. The main strength of the series lies in the exquisite artwork and story. Taking on the role of Kate Reed, the protagonist for both games, you will guide this plucky lady on two greatly different stories, but sharing one same theme – to assist poor unfortunate ghosts who can only be reached via the House of 1,000 Doors.

This review also focuses on the Collector’s Edition which includes extra game chapters that expand on each game’s story, an in-built strategy guide that guides you every step of the way, and media galleries to whet your appetite upon completing each game.

Come, step through our door to learn more…

A recipe for horror
These game worlds are huge!

Story Background
You will be introduced to Kate Reed in Family Secrets, she’s an author who loves writing about ghost stories. One night, Kate receives a mysterious package, within is an invitation to an actual séance. Not one to shy away from opportunities, Kate makes her way there. From there, she will get whisked away into an adventure helping troubled ghosts – all this originating from within the House of 1000 Doors.

The House of 1000 Doors is also a major character in the series, and in a really big way. You see, the House cannot be found at any particular address; that’s because it will magically materialize at random locations all over the world. Moreover, the House won’t just let any person waltz through its main doors – you have to be invited to enter within its hallowed halls. The caretakers of the House are the Lancaster family, people with the uncanny ability to communicate with the dearly departed.

Sammy Lancaster is afraid of the dark
Horror… the final frontier?

In the first game of the series – Family Secrets, you must help guide Kate save several ghosts from their eternal suffering. There’s a young ghostly bride who has lost her husband in a horrific train accident; will you be able to find a way to stop her torture? Then, there’s the sculptor who lives in a wintry hell; and don’t forget the young girl who passed away too soon, her ghost haunts the burnt out skeleton of her father’s charred studio.

In the Palm of Zoroaster, the House of 1000 Doors beckons once again and pulls Kate into another thrilling adventure. This time round, a cursed gem which bears a long and dark history is threatening the residents of the House. It’s up to Kate to visit exotic places such as Tibet, India, Israel, and Madagascar to collect artifacts that will help destroy the evil contained within the gem.

Damsel in distress
Visit exotic Tibet in the Palm of Zoroaster

Game Play
Each game in the series has you exploring many locations within the House of 1,000 Doors. You shouldn’t get lost if you follow the handy tutorial to the letter. What you will do in each game is to unlock four portals that will lead you to far away places that house several very unhappy ghosts. With perseverance, you will find a way to communicate with the ghosts and to hopefully resolve the problems that are keeping them fettered to their sorry existence.

Along the way, you get to play hidden object scenes that have you finding 15 objects from a list that hold only 8 items at a time. Some of the objects will be in red type font, these will usually need some form of interaction to complete the object – for example, the lightbulb (picture at bottom left) can be found if you click on the centre cushion of the sofa to reveal a space storing more hidden objects, while opened padlock (picture at bottom right) refers to a padlock that must be unlocked with the aid of a key.

Hidden object fun
The key to success lies along an arduous path

Other than hidden object scenes, you have an inventory that will hold items required in solving adventure type tasks. Pick up anything that looks suspiciously useful, and you shouldn’t go too wrong at all. If you ever find yourself in a tight spot, you can click on the hint button and it will show you the shortest way to completing the next task. You can also rely on a handy map that brings you directly to the adventure location required to achieve these tasks.

There’s of course a requisite selection of puzzles that feature a good mix of easy and difficult challenges. All of them require some logical and innovative thinking to solve them, so expect a well-deserved break from regular adventuring and hidden object hunting. The Hint button is replaced with a Skip button when solving puzzles; once fully charged, you can immediately click on it to skip a puzzle.

Patience and perseverance required in these puzzles
Swap the squares to complete the picture

Graphics, Interface, and Audio
Without a doubt, the production values in the House of 1,000 Doors series is simply exquisite. Each game is graced by high quality animated films that move the story forward at a good pace. Although the voice acting (and sometimes the script) may be a bit spotty at times, they do manage to sustain their credibility and realism. The music is eerily calm and unsettling at the same time, so watch out for this feature that stands well above the sound effects.

The 2D artwork is of course top notch and the hidden objects are so well hidden that you may find yourself blinking your eyes in amazement every now and then. The game’s interface is simple to use, but the second game improves it slightly by making the map more accessible. The journal is crisp and clear throughout, and a real handy reference to the game.

Uncover the portraits to this family tree
Explore Jerusalem and admire the Dome of the Rock

The House of 1,000 Doors series is very strong in the story and graphics department; these two elements come together in an electrifying mix of pure casual adventure hidden object fun.

  • Both games feature huge areas with many locations to explore, exquisitely drawn 2D artwork, and ingenious hidden object scenes.
  • You’ll find one of the best mapping systems ever; you can click on a location and head directly there. Locations are also clearly marked if you’ve found items that will help you advance your adventure.
  • Don’t forget, you get to watch beautifully animated movie quality cutscenes in both games.
  • The music helps to build some great atmosphere.
  • The engaging stories help to keep you invested in the game.
  • The Collector’s Edition for the series contains content not available in the regular version of the game. You will find a bonus chapter that supplements the main adventure, a gallery of concept art and wallpapers, plus a highly detailed step-by-step walkthrough.
  • There’s a sense of continuity playing through the bonus chapters as well as when transiting from Family Secrets to The Palm of Zoroaster.
  • You can choose to play in Casual or Expert mode, with the latter requiring more time to charge up your hint bar and providing less visual clues.
This is eerie indeed!
Check your inventory for ideas on the way forward

There’s nothing really much to complain here.

  • The voice acting is not exactly top notch in both games.
  • The map is not as accessible in Family Secrets – you need to click twice to access it.
  • The ending in The Palm of Zoroaster (non-Collector’s Edition) seems a bit abrupt.
  • There is no penalty for indiscriminate clicking in hidden object scenes.
  • The game immediately resets itself once you complete the main chapter (or bonus chapters), so watch out as you will lose all your journal entries.
  • The storyline in the second game is slightly better than the first game.
  • The game suffers from lack of replayability as the hidden object lists are fixed.

The House of 1,000 Doors – Family Secrets and the Palm of Zoroaster are two superior games that begs to be played. These games feature interesting plots that has you doing good deeds for lost souls. The hidden object scenes are exquisitely done, and the selection of puzzles are very good. Suffice to say, these games come highly recommended and should not be missed by all casual game lovers out there.

A bonanza of hidden object scenes
This pipe organ is instrumental to the main plot

Daily PC Game Review Score:

  • House of 1,000 Doors – Family Secrets: 9 / 10
  • House of 1,000 Doors – The Palm of Zoroaster: 9 / 10

Review Date: 3 Apr 2012

The Verdict


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