Majesty: HHiiddeenn OObbjjeecctt IInn 33DD

By John Walker on November 30th, 2011 at 11:02 am.

They're hiding the reason I want to play.

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.

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15 Comments »

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    Classic adventure games would often be criticised if they had too much pixel hunting. These pretty much make it the core mechanic. Some are mot completely awful though.

  2. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Some hidden object games are quite charming and relaxing. Others.. not so much. I don’t hold much hope for this particular title.

  3. WMain00 says:

    I was actually contemplating an adventure game based upon The Culture from Iain Banks novels.

  4. OrangyTang says:

    “super-crude cartoon 3D”

    Really? Is this where we’re at now? It might not have the latest in tech buzzwords but from the screenshots that looks like an appealing style with lots of character. Are we only allowed to like graphics if they melt our graphics cards now?

    • Leandro says:

      Lots of character, really? Because to me it looks like they’re copying the style from Warcraft III, right down to early 2000′s textures, and not doing a great job at it. The problem is not that it won’t melt any video cards, the problem is it doesn’t look very good or imaginative at all.

  5. DarkerFate says:

    The Drawn series of games has a very special place within my favored games library, and the latest in the series has a foreground/background 3D effect to it, which actually works. But a full-on 3D HOG I just can’t see as working thing.

    The whole hand-drawn backgrounds and objects are the selling-point for me. It creates an atmosphere that would otherwise be boring.

  6. Hoaxfish says:

    I get the feeling that someone lost their keys this morning

  7. impeus says:

    The Clockwork Man uses parallax-type 3D effects to hide some objects.

  8. Simon Hawthorne says:

    I am slightly wary of a game which refuses to tell me how much it is until I install the demo…

  9. Synesthesia says:

    That shark will chase me in my nightmares. Thank you, john. (Also, which was the article you were referring to on the first few sentences? I remember it was a good read)

  10. Urthman says:

    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.

    I totally disagree. I love exploring and looking for secrets in a 3D environment. I’d love to see a genre of AAA games in which you do nothing but wander around beautiful and imaginative environments looking for cleverly-hidden secrets. I’d even tolerate a few puzzles, a lame story, and some bad voice acting mixed in, if it helped get people interested.

  11. Robert says:

    I’m actually hesitant to ask, but anyone direct to the cream-of-the-crop hidden object games, preferably with a historical-sort-of-vibe.

    I know I like the genre, but I’ve been burned as the only I bought was a horrid, horrid specimen. Hesitant to spend another 5-10 euros on another “distracting sidenote” which fails to distract.

    • armaankhan says:

      I’d recommend The Clockwork Man 2. It’s set in a light steampunk-y sort of world, has some nice art and mild puzzles elements, and a pretty engaging story. It’s kind of expensive, though, at US$20 direct from the developer.

  12. John P says:

    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.

    Yeah chess secretly wished it was an adventure game.

    What are you saying.

  13. Lemming says:

    I saw that top screenshot and instantly thought I was looking at some kind of modern version of Megalomania…

    ..kinda gutted now. :(