Louis Gauche the evil circus clown is back in a second outing in this horror-themed hidden object adventure game from casual game publisher Alawar Entertainment. The first game known as Broken Tune, had you taking on the role of a private investigator looking into a series of bizarre accidents that occurred at Fairy Gate Park. All clues eventually pointed back to Louis Gauche and in a climactic battle, the evil clown’s plans were thwarted.
Or so we thought…
What you get
This time round, Scary Tales has you portraying an unnamed protagonist whose car is wrecked near Fairy Gate Park after an apparition of a young girl materializes in the passenger seat. After exploring your surroundings and about a third way into the game, you will open a portal that takes you to the real “Weird Park” – a netherworld born from Louis Gauche’s twisted mind.
To go up against the evil clown and his sidekick – a sinister jester previously nicknamed Loki but now identified as Mr. Dudley, you have the option of playing through a tutorial that covers the necessary basics of surviving inside the game of Scary Tales. There’s the standard tutorial section on reading your journal, using and manipulating objects, selecting items from your inventory, and navigating to other areas in the game.
Before entering the netherworld, you must explore a deserted house and its nearby environs, even requiring to go underwater in a helmeted diving suit. You will begin to suspect this game is going to be huge; in fact there are more than 55 locations altogether in Scary Tales.
Most of the time, your exploration will be interrupted by sparkling lights that indicate a Hidden Object (HO) scene. These scenes present a list of 12 items that you must find from a location that is cluttered with all sorts of objects. To make the game more challenging, there will at least be one object in the list that requires a certain action to be performed before you can acquire it. There are 18 HO scenes in the game, and you will find yourself visiting a scene roughly two times in the entire game.
Objects you acquire from HO scenes or during your adventure while exploring your surroundings are placed in your inventory. There are all sorts of objects you will find in the game, but you will not get to keep them for long. You will most likely be required to use them somewhere to unlock a door or something similar like that, and then the object will disappear from your inventory.
Puzzles (also known as mini-games) in Scary Tales are quite a rich lot; there are at least 25 found in the game. Most of these you would have seen before, although there are a number that are unique to this game. There are combination locks to open, tiles to position, memory games to attempt, logic puzzles to solve, and a small handful of action based mini-games. Our favorite was a key designed as a maze that you had to navigate through.
The story takes a weird twist after you enter the netherworld. You have to rescue a couple of kids who have been turned into dolls by Louis Gauche. To find the kids, you must traverse through a series of locations inspired by fairy tales. There is a mish-mash of tales on show including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, and Aladdin.
Graphics art-wise, you will be in for a treat in Scary Tales. There are roughly three themed areas – the real world, the netherworld, and the fairy tale worlds; all have been done in beautiful detail. The HO scenes are well done: they are not too heavily populated with objects, and objects are usually to-scale depictions. There are also quite a number of eye-opening cutscenes, like one instance where you fire a rifle, and another where you shoot an arrow. The best cutscenes however feature Louis Gauche and Mr. Dudley; these two are possibly the best partners in horror and crime combined.
The theme music is rousing stuff for a horror themed game. The sound effects do a good job, but the voice acting for Louis Gauche, Mr. Dudley, and the kids are very convincing and well done.
As for the gameplay, we felt there was a bit too much wandering around in the game mostly due to backtracking to try a new object you have acquired. This made us rely on the hint button very often, since there is no map feature found in the game. Also, the incidence of HO scenes and puzzles is quite high, resulting in a lot of time spent searching for hidden objects and trying to complete mini-games – which may be good or bad in your book.
It is just barely a week after Halloween, but with Thanksgiving and then Christmas looming before us, you may want to seriously consider getting yourself the entire Weird Park franchise which comprises both Broken Tune and Scary Tales. We feel they make for wonderful gifts, although we would not recommend it for anything but teenagers and above.