By John Walker on November 30th, 2011 at 11:02 am.
The other day I was arguing that all new game trends trend toward adventure. What I’m saying is, adventure gaming is the natural form of game, to which all games aspire. And so it is that the infinitude of the casual gaming market is all gradually forming itself from a void into a desire to be adventures. They’ve just got to take that one leap of realising that adventures are really hard work. Another step closer for the hidden object genre is Elementary My Dear Majesty!, for which a demo is now available.
This one’s in 3D. Sort of. So rather than your usual static screen with cunningly/uncunningly placed objects blended into the background, here it’s super-crude cartoon 3D objects dumped into a super-crude cartoon 3D world, in which you can rotate the camera a tiny fraction. This by its very nature makes objects more obvious, and thus it relies on being more obtuse.
So now you must turn the camera those few degrees to reveal the fourteenth egg that’s hidden behind a tree, which rather removes the wit of the genre. The pleasure – and I maintain that it IS a pleasure – of realising you’ve been missing that pencil because it’s actually the length of the doorframe is abandoned here, in favour of just hiding stuff. But, as is increasingly the case, it’s also trying to make things feel more involved in a plot.
They’re not, of course. Hunting for three pieces of cake requires solving challenges from a series of inanimate objects that in turn involve finding objects and then likely clicking on them in a psuedo-inventory and clicking them on something else. At worst this may initiate a sliding tile puzzle. At best, it starts a hunt for more objects. Your motivation, if I may use the word so loosely as to abandon all meaning, is to find out why the king’s daughter has turned into a monster. But of course the reality is just clicking about the screen, until the object highlights itself when you put the mouse over it, even in “Expert” mode.
I’m not convinced this is the direction the genre wants to be heading in. I think hidden object games should probably just realise that they are just a distracting sidenote, and not burgeoning with potential for so much more. Because that’s point and click adventure games they’re thinking of, and what’s inevitably happening is a reworking of the mid-90s splurge of half-arsed attempts that misunderstand quite how complex a thing they are to make. A more involved hidden object game simply becomes a more frustrating and fiddly hidden object game. It’s an evolutionary branch that ends in a floppy leaf, not a bud.
You can see what you think for yourself, for a free hour, via this here link.