A Hidden Object Mystery With A Supernatural Twist
Hidden Mysteries: Notre Dame is a hidden object game in which players assume the role of a detective who is investigating the theft of a valuable artifact. Hidden object games are a fairly new genre of game that is becoming increasingly popular among casual players. The main focus of these games is usually on storytelling rather than twitch-based gameplay, and they usually require that players solve puzzles or mini-games in order to advance the story.
The crux of the gameplay in hidden-object titles revolves around players searching an image for objects that are hidden within the picture they are presented with. Most games will provide players with a list of items to find and are akin to scavenger hunts. To uncover the item once it's spotted, players usually only need to click on the object, which will force it to become visible.
Often times, the game will penalize players for clicking in areas where there is no hidden object present. The main reason for doing this is to keep the player from frantically clicking all over the screen in an attempt to uncover items by luck instead of skill. Additionally, many games in the genre offer hints that can help players when they get stuck on difficult sections of the game.
A French Detective Story
The game takes place in France and revolves around a detective's efforts to uncover a French National Treasure that was stolen from the Notre Dame Cathedral. In the case of Hidden Mysteries: Notre Dame, the idea of using a hidden object game for a detective story achieves mixed results.
The main problem is that it doesn't make any sense that Notre Dame Cathedral has so much junk just laying around everywhere. The cleaning crew in charge of keep the building free of clutter was definitely asleep on the job, since the building is filled to the brim with all sorts of junk. The worst part is that most of the objects don't even make sense, like surf boards and bicycles. If the game had focused on historical artifacts or exploring the historical landmark, it might have made much more sense. Unfortunately, the mismatch between the hard-boiled detective story and the nonsensical gameplay elements detract from the game as a whole.
Solve The Case Of The Missing Crown
The story begins with the player assuming the role of a private detective who specializes in supernatural cases. This investigator is never given a name and is referred to only as 'detective' for the duration of the game. The detective receives a phone call from the American Ambassador to France informing him that the valuable crown of thorns artifact has been stolen from the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Once the detective arrives at Notre Dame, he discovers that the cathedral's bishop is the only witness to the crime. It turns out the bishop was walking across the cathedral's grounds when he passed by the crown's display case, only to discover that it was missing.
As the player interviews the bishop, it soon becomes apparent that nothing is as it appears. The player will soon be launched on an international journey full of intrigue and suspense which will take them to over 30 distinct locations in search of the culprit. Another unique aspect to the game's story is that ghosts figure prominently into the plot. The player will interact with the spirits of several historical figures such as Napoleon, Victor Hugo and Marie Antoinette.
Might Be Difficult For Those Unfamiliar With The Hidden Object Genre
The game is relatively straightforward, although newcomers to the hidden object genre of games might be a little disoriented at first. A tutorial of some sort would have been helpful, but the game isn't so hard that players shouldn't be able to figure out what's going on after a few attempts. Other than that, the game controls relatively well. Most of the sequences in Hidden Mysteries: Notre Dame don't require fast reflexes or pinpoint accuracy from the player, so there's not much to complain about in terms of how the game controls. Additionally, the game offers lots of hints to players in case they become stuck or frustrated. These hints are available every couple of minutes and require time to recharge between uses.
Detailed Environments To Explore
Between rounds of searching for hidden objects, players will be able to explore the area in and around the Notre Dame Cathedral. During this time, the game switches to an adventure-style interface and gives players the ability to question witnesses or look for clues.
This is where the game really shines, as there are quite a few areas to explore, and each one contains a lot of details for the player to take in. This part of the game is also the one that will make the player feel like they're a real detective, since it involves well-written dialogue and clever puzzles that require solving.
Only Good For A Single Playthrough
Once players are finished with the main storyline, there's very little reason to come back and play the game again. Even though the first playthrough is enjoyable, subsequent runs through the game really don't add anything new or exciting to the experience. Even though the location of the hidden objects is randomized on every playthrough, there's not enough there to keep players interested a second time around. Another problem with the game is its length. It seems to end very abruptly, and most players should be able to play through the entire game in an hour or two.
Conclusion - Not Bad, But Doesn't Exactly Stand Out Amidst The Competition
Hidden Mysteries: Notre Dame isn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it's just that the hidden object genre is so crowded that it's tough to recommend anything but the best titles that the genre has to offer. Anyone who's a fan of detective stories will probably enjoy the game, but just about everyone else should skip it.
Review by Robert J
Robert J is currently employed as an IT professional in the Milwaukee area. He is a longtime gamer and lives with his dog Buddy.
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