This is a two part review of Hidden Mystery Collectives: Mystic Diary 1 & 2.
Focus Multimedia have been releasing quite a number of Hidden Mystery Collectives to date. The concept of this series is to present to the buyer two great casual games in one box. We had the fortune to get our hands on the copy that includes both Mystic Diary: Lost Brother and Mystic Diary 2: Haunted Island together.
Developed by Sunray Games, these hidden object adventures are sure to keep you entertained for quite a few hours. Let’s begin with a look at the story behind each game before we get into the review proper.
In Lost Brother, you are a magician from the Victorian era who takes on a quest to find his lost brother. Soon, you will find yourself traveling to exotic places around the world using the magical pages from an artifact known as the Mystic Diary. Search out hidden objects, solve fun mini puzzles and trace out arcane spell symbols in this one-of-a-kind Adventure game. Can you master the Mystic Diary and save your brother?
What you get
The first game clearly had a sequence of gameplay clearly laid out. You first enter an area and attend to sparkling areas that either mark out to you hidden object scenes or objects you can use in the adventure. Each of the hidden object scenes have at least 12 to 22 objects you must find and instead of a word list, you get a list that can show up to 7 silhouettes representing the objects you must search. As you find each object, the silhouette is removed and a new one takes it place in the list. Upon completing your search list, you will be rewarded with an object you can use.
Objects you receive or find somewhere in the area will be placed in your inventory. You can either combine them, or take them out from your inventory and click somewhere in the area to use them. You will also find at least one puzzle that requires solving; these can be skipped after a requisite time has been passed. Puzzles include tile laying/shifting/rotating mini-games, a memory mini-game, an interesting spot-the-difference mini-game, and logic puzzles. You must also solve a maze as well as a jigsaw puzzle.
Once you finish solving a puzzle in an area, you are presented with some text that advances the story, as well as the simple task of tracing out a magical symbol that has been cast over the area. Once you trace out the entire symbol with the help of a magnifying glass, you get to advance to the next area. As is standard of casual games, you will have at hand a (mystical) diary that you can flip through to peruse the story.
You may be missing a brother in the game, but there is practically no story here… the writeup you receive in your diary is neither gripping nor is it exciting. Once you start your first hidden object scene, you realize that it appears kind of like as a sub-window – this basically mean the programmers are not making full use of the screen estate to make the hidden object scene more expansive and fun.
If you look carefully at the screenshots we have provided, about one-third of the screen is wasted space that could have been better employed. But at least the developers have made it up with the amount of stuff you must find. The hidden object silhouettes are also not that difficult to find since you can still see a grayscale image representation of the object. In addition the game is rather lenient, objects are usually in plain view (especially early in the game), and you can click quite a number of times before your view becomes obscured. Hint recharge time is also quite fast.
Puzzles are however a plus in Mystic Diary: Lost Brother. We loved the variety and style of the puzzles; they were mostly well thought out and designed, although we also wished that the whole screen could have been used. The sound and music are for the most part average-ish. The main theme starts off in a sinister manner, but eventually winds down into a theme representative of any typical adventure yarn.
We are awarding this game a modest score of 7 for the reasons we cited above. Mystic Diary: Lost Brother is simple enough in terms of gameplay to cater to an appreciative and forgiving casual audience. The developers even dropped some tantalizing hints of what you will get to play in the second part of the franchise.
Stay tuned for Part 2…