An Unexpected Sequel for a Classic
We all know about the Phantom of the Opera, whether it comes in the form of the 1976 musical, the 1925 film, or the original novel written by Gaston Leroux published in the early 20th Century. We are all know about the tense and tragic tale of a love triangle between a young opera singer, a viscount, and the titular “phantom” with the angelic voice. As a classic story that has so far withstood the test of time, the Mystery Legends series brings with it a sequel with this point-and-click hidden object adventure, aptly titled The Phantom of the Opera.
Time has passed since the original story, and the esteemed singer, Christine and her husband Raoul have long since gotten married and bore a child named Evelyn. She has grown up to be as lovely a young lady as her mother was, and a talented opera singer in her own right!
After one night of performing, she receives a mysterious invitation from an unknown source. Before she can fully grasp what it means, though, Evelyn suddenly finds herself no longer in the streets of Paris with her parents, but in what appears to be an old abandoned opera house. An opera house that appears to be haunted by a phantom proclaiming himself “the Angel of Music,” and who boldly vows that he will make Christine finally love him once and for all. If Evelyn wants to escape, she’ll have to dig up a long buried chapter of her parents’ past.
Needless to say, Mystery Legends: The Phantom of the Opera has a very compelling story straight from the get-go. It’s a real treat for anyone who’s familiar with the original tale, as it makes many callbacks and references to it. But even if you haven’t read the book or seen any of its adaptations, it’s still a tense and suspenseful story that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
The first thing you’ll notice about The Phantom of the Opera is that it’s a sight to behold! Everything, from the characters, still images, and especially the backgrounds, is drawn in a fantastic and highly detailed gothic art style. Everything just has a lot of personality, even the many screens of assorted clutter you’ll be seeing over the course of the adventure. And par the course for the genre are frequent uses of animation to make the setting all the more immersive. The Phantom of the Opera features some of the most beautiful snowfall you’re likely to see in this kind of game.
Lovely, if Not Operatic, Sounds
The music is nice. Most pieces are made for ambience, but a few are actually very pleasant to listen to on their own merits. The only complaint about the soundtrack is that the theme is certainly calling for at least one symphonic or operatic song, which just doesn’t happen.
Sound effects are to put to very good effect as well. They’re subtle, but lifelike. Hearing Evelyn’s footsteps as she walks from one screen to next is an especially nice touch, doubly so when the sound actually changes to match the material she’s walking on; snow will softly crunch beneath her while wooden floorboards creak ever so slightly.
Voice acting can be pretty hit and miss. Erik, the titular phantom, is always a joy to hear, speaking with a tone that is both sinister and appropriately hammy. Evelyn, though, sometimes sounds decent, and other times comes off as flat. It would have been nice if the dialogue could have been in French to make things more a little more authentic, but you can’t have it all.
Finding Old but Polished Things
Though The Phantom of the Opera plays like a point-and-click adventure game, the emphasis of the gameplay is clearly on the hidden object sequences. There’s nothing too revolutionary to find here; no additional interactivity, no multi-step processes needed to get specific items, and no extensive lists to clear. HOGs are pretty bare bones in that regard.
However, what they may lack in originality, they more than make up for in clear polish. The areas they take place in tend to be the sort of places where a bunch of random stuff would be cluttered, such as desks, closets, and shelves. The items similarly fit the early 20th Century setting, there are few, if any, anachronistic things to find here. And the game makes absolutely sure to not force you to search the same place multiple times, which is always wonderful.
Furthermore, these are some of the most challenging HOGs you’re going to play yet. Some neat visual tricks are employed, but not cheaply. Items are neither overly small, nor are they blocked from sight. The Phantom of the Opera also makes copious use of obscure items that many may not be too familiar with; one area tasks you with finding objects like zodiac symbols for Sagittarius and Pisces. Hints can be used in case you do get stuck, but watch out, the recharge time is longer than usual, lasting about two minutes. If you want to complete this journey, you’re going to have to earn it.
Not the Most Memorable of Puzzles
Though the game puts most of its focus on HOGs, it still has an ample number of puzzles to break things up. But they’re simplistic in general. Mostly, you’ll be dealing with the usual deal of “collect key item at location X, bring it to Location Y.” There are a few bigger overarching puzzles that bring several items together, such as knight chess pieces for a chessboard, or urns to place over a mantle, all of which require solving even more puzzles to acquire. But overall, nothing stands out from what the usual breed of adventure game has to offer.
You’re unlikely to ever get lost, thankfully. There are lots of details, both to fill you in on the backstory and provide clues to advance, both of which are recorded in Evelyn’s journal. And one touch that really stands out is Evelyn herself. If you find a key item that’s relevant previously found. It’s an effective way to jog the memory.
Minigames are present, but they’re equally as un-ambitious as the puzzles. Annoyingly, they lack directions, but on the plus side, they can be easily completed with basic trial-and-error.
Conclusion - A Challenging Game With An Intriguing Story
At the end of the day, Mystery Legends: Phantom of the Opera doesn’t bring forth any new sweeping changes to the adventure HOG genre. But it does offer a challenging and finely polished product and an intriguing story that draws its origins from classic literature. If you’re in the need of a HOG with a great yarn to spin, then maybe you should reserve a seat for Mystery Legends: Phantom of the Opera today.
Review by David Galvin
Dave Galvin is a freelance writer and avid gamer. Somehow, he managed to find a way to combine the two passions.
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