Here’s our first “Vortex-to-the-Past” featurette as we take a quick look at games released some time in the past. To start us of, we have with us The Treasures of Mystery Island – a casual adventure game from developer Five BN and publisher Alawar Entertainment.
You play the game as Alex, the unlucky chap who crash lands on Mystery Island. Although safe, you are as good as stranded in the middle of nowhere. Luckily with the help of the locals, you will embark on a quest to search for objects and then return them to their rightful places. Looks like a simple enough adventure to start off a trilogy (with Part 2: The Treasures of Mystery Island – Gates of Fate and Part 3: The Treasures of Mystery Island – Ghost Ship).
What you Get
The game is divided into several episode with each one comprising three to four locations. Unlike hidden object games that come with a list, you must find the fragmented pieces of artwork that make up the five key objects at each location. A tutorial guides you in finding the pieces that make up a red propeller; the artwork for the propeller has been carefully cut apart into (usually about 5) tiny pieces and hidden very carefully in the scene. Luckily things are pretty obvious as red does not feature much at the location. There is the requisite hint button if you need help and a standard penalty for randomly clicking.
Once you have found all the pieces for an object, it becomes part of your inventory. The object must be used at one of the locations in the episode, but you won’t know exactly which one. Mini-games and puzzles help to break the tedium of artwork piece hunting. Repeat this for all the pieces of every object at every location and you get to end the episode with the task of “Finding all the items that an xxxx (person) might use” . The “xxxx” could range from say an “archaeologist” all the way to a “waiter”.
There’s certainly value for money here if you like finding hidden objects, and there is definitely a lot of searching to do in the first game of this series. However, purists may not like the idea of finding the fragmented pieces of an object. Incidentally, you don’t know how an object is carved up in the first place, and some of the pieces are so well hidden that you may wonder – why did you not see that? The hint system is also a bit ambiguous when it comes to returning some of the objects to their rightful places; you certainly have to experiment at one or two locations when you get stuck. Also, the mini-games come with no hints.
Another thing to add would be the characters, we were definitely not fans of the ugly looking artwork and found it hard to connect with them. The story also felt long-winded and tacked-on with twists just for the sake of justifying the need for Alex to visit the many locations in the game. Finally, if the music and sound effects had been attention grabbing (instead of endless bongo-bashing), we would have written something more cordial to end this section.
A reasonably good buy, but probably more worthwhile when purchased as part of the “The Treasures of Mystery Island Trilogy”.