iPhone – Stone of Destiny Review
Stone of Destiny is yet another one of those “hidden object” offerings that seem so prevalent in casual gaming. The concept whereby the player finds certain items that have been skillfully superimposed onto a drawn or digital piece of art is harmless enough but there comes a point when one wonders if this constitutes more than a rudimentary level of gaming.
As per games of this genre, story doesn’t’ really matter although the game does its best to make a stab at it by presenting narrative sections every so often that unfold through comic book panels. It turns out your uncle has gone missing and it is up to you to roam the world in an effort to track him down. This is a nice treat until you realize the absolute thinnest justification for the game boils down to, “I came to a dead end and lo and behold a puzzle awaited me!” Still, the game gets marks for going the extra mile to try and tie it all together.
The game boasts that it has 25 levels of find the object game play which is stretching the truth as you have to redo levels twice and sometimes it makes the same mistakes other games of this genre do in asking you to find many of the same items you did before. Seriously, is it so hard to write code that doesn’t pick items it has tasked you to find previously on the same stage?
However, there’s a much larger problem here that almost completely derails the game. The success of these find the hidden object games hinges on how well the items you seek are integrated into the background images. Unlike other entries in this genre, Stone of Destiny employs real photos of places and objects instead of hand-drawn art. With some good Photoshop skills this makes it easier for the items to blend into the backgrounds but the developer makes the fatal mistake of only giving you one zoom in setting that doesn’t really magnify enough. Although there is a hint timer feature included it is extremely frustrating when you have to squint like some sort of madman in order to find some of the more obscure objects, some of which, are literally only pixels large. Without the hint button you’d take hours finding these. There is a timer counting down so you can’t rely on using hints only but I never once got close to the timer running out. Conversely, you can’t tap the screen randomly trying to find objects as it will cause your timer to quickly decrease.
I also encountered weird quirks every now and then as the items the game presented to me to find were right next to one another. The game also sends you around the world but in a rather unintentional (or not) fashion the names of the stages sometimes will make you guffaw. I can’t remember the exact words but one was called the Den of Hell or something that had the word Hell in it and it turned out to be a picture of a regular wooden house. No sight of the Devil or his minions could sadly be found nor anything remotely evil for that matter. Maybe the developer was trying to make a social-economic statement that suburbia was hellish?
Perhaps it was also just my iPhone and I haven’t been able to test this on another unit or iPod Touch but whenever I zoomed into an image and moved the screen left and right the frame rate would chug as the game stuttered. An unintended side effect of this choppiness is that for a brief moment you could discern the background moving faster than the pasted on objects. This highlighted the items you needed to find making it a bit of a cheat to discover them.
The developer wisely tries to break the monotony of finding objects with a few game play additions. After finding all the objects at a particular location you are presented with what amounts to a game of trace. A symbol is displayed on screen which you must replicate using your finger over the iPhone’s touch screen. Some of these are simple shapes while later on they can get a bit more complex. This new mode might seem novel the first few times you do it but it quickly becomes more of a distraction as I found the input method to be strangely inaccurate as I could complete some complex symbols in one attempt while taking forever to do simple ones. On a less enjoyable note these complex symbols you are making do have a meaning as you see them later in the game in one of the most annoying levels I’ve seen. Without going into spoilers all I’ll say is that level doesn’t even have a zoom function making things really hard to spot.
There are also some rudimentary puzzle levels that pop up from time to time. Although none were particularly difficult I found them much more enjoyable than tracing symbols. There’s your typical move these stones from one peg to another based on their size section and also a level where you have to move coffins trapped in a maze.
Played in short bursts there’s some fun to be had here and at least the developer has attempted to add a few new elements to try and spice things up but the problem is that the core game play comes off as nothing more than average. With no incentives for replay and a less than desirable zoom function the developer succeeds in hampering the experience even further. Although this game is a port of a PC installment it’s obvious that the translation was rushed as these quirks could have easily been fixed. Perhaps the developer will take some of the lessons learned here and employ them in future offerings.
** out of ****
Developed by: Voodoo Dimension
Published by: Voodoo Dimension
Size: 22.8 MB
© 2009 The Galactic Pillow