iPad Review – Atlantis: Mysteries of the Ancient Inventors HD
When I read the title Atlantis: Mysteries of the Ancient Inventors HD the first impression that immediately came to mind was that I was probably going to experience a game where I would discover some insight into Ancient Atlantean culture and its many supposed fantastical inventions. Alas, what I received was yet another example of banal game design that hardly manages to present a coherent plot other than, “Let’s go find Atlantis.” Now, that is not necessarily a bad idea as there are literally a thousand variations of what happened to the long lost Atlantean civilization but the game makes the fatal mistake of crafting a hidden object experience that surely ranks as one of the worst on the market.
The plot itself can be summed up as, “Intrepid archeologist Anna decides to visit her grandfather and a library thus managing to gain enough knowledge to lead her to discover Atlantis.” Obviously, with a plot as deep as this all other fiction writers should immediately put their pens down and turn off their laptops because nothing else will ever match its pure genius. I jest of course as once again the narrative as told by Anna through a series of cut scenes featuring the same character graphics over and over again is nothing but an excuse to ram together many hidden object gaming segments.
Nevertheless, plot aside, the actual hidden object gaming is frankly sub-par with surprisingly bland environments that have a very bad tendency to make every object stand out due to some awful contrasts of both colour and texture. It is almost as if the developers took cut out pictures from a magazine and merely threw them on top of one another without any rhyme or reason. The more accomplished developers at least try to trick gamers into basically “not seeing” objects by attempting to place them on colours or other background scenery that blend well with one another so as to hide them in plain sight. Not so here as there doesn’t seem to be much of an attempt made to better integrate the objects into the environment. There are even a couple of instances late in the game where certain objects appear to have a faint black outline around them which might not seem so shocking until one realizes that the developer has positioned them over totally white background graphics.
Thus without better image integration the game has the tendency to basically reveal every single object placed on the screen so much so that it eviscerates the game’s intended difficulty level. At the same time the game makes the dual mistakes of having a limited set of objects that constantly repeat between levels as well as having object placement that is derived from a drunken monkey hurling random objects at the wall.
Gameplay itself is par for the genre as players need to find hidden objects from the list on the right side of the screen. Part of this list is hidden and is slowly revealed as objects are found and removed from record. The game does add one key differential in that some items, as denoted by asterisks, can only be “found” by combining two objects. For instance, the flashlight which is in plain sight cannot be “found” unless the player drags nearby batteries onto it in order to provide power. This is a novel and welcomed mechanic that frankly should have been utilized more but sadly there are precious few items that require players to combine objects. Additionally, the game itself doesn’t do itself any favours with a less than useful tutorial system so I have no doubt some players will merely scratch their heads wondering what to do and whether or not the game is bugged because they cannot pick up objects like the flashlight by touching them. The game’s original PC roots also rear their ugly head in these instances as a mouse pointer icon will appear as players drag items ontop of one another. The game does include a rather verbose set of instructions but to access them one has to exit the game and return to the home screen which is rather counterproductive.
At the same time Atlantis: Mysteries of the Ancient Inventors HD is rather lousy in remembering what you chose because the developers have implemented a rather frustrating game mechanic that is sure to throw people for a loop. Certain locations feature hot spots on the screen which, when pressed, lead to another area such as a different view of the room or a closeup of a treasure chest. The problem here is that a player can potentially find every single hidden object in a scene save one and then make the mistake of hitting one of these hot spots like the treasure chest. Imagine entering a room, finding everything tasked of you before opening up a nearby treasure chest. However, as soon as you close the chest all the objects you previously found in the room magically reappear forcing you to discover them all over again. This is supremely frustrating as often times players will hit these hot spots without realizing what is going on and lose all progress on the current board which is plainly ridiculous as it is penalizing players for no particular reason.
Like virtually every HOG game out there Atlantis: Mysteries of the Ancient Inventors HD features a free hint system this time indicated by a large green icon on the upper right hand side of the screen that reads, “Get Hint.” Pressing it causes the game to reveal one item on the object list to the gamer. While this is nothing new the game seriously has the most accommodating timer in the history of the genre as it basically refills every five seconds. This essentially gives gamers complete freedom to abuse the hint system as all someone needs to do is egregiously bash the screen with his/her fingers to quickly find most items and intermittently pound the hint button since the refresh timer is so low. Because of this the game itself can easily be finished in less than two hours. Obviously, those showing more restraint will not guess needlessly yet the short hint timer will surely tempt more than a few gamers.
There are many mini games included in an attempt to break up the HOG monotony but most of them aren’t particularly exciting or original. Trying to unscramble words from jumbled up letters is amusing once or twice but these segments don’t do enough to truly add to the overall experience. At the same time, all the mini games can be skipped immediately with a press of a button which runs counter to most other games that at least force gamers to attempt to solve the puzzles by providing a countdown clock till the option to skip is allowed. Once again, more discerning gamers will certainly try to solve these themselves while the more impatient will skip them with no real penalty.
Finally, it has to be said that the game literally only has one looping musical track that is sure to annoy before long. Thankfully, the game’s brevity somewhat alleviates this issue yet the very fact that the entire experience leaves a sour taste is more than enough to not recommend this title especially in comparison to the many stellar hidden object games on Apple’s iTunes store. Atlantis: Mysteries of the Ancient InventorS HD is the type of hidden object game I would have expected ten years ago when the genre was in its infancy and developers were just getting their feet wet trying to perfect game play but for a 2011-2012 title it simply falls far short of virtually everything out there especially considering it is in the same price range as other genre games of considerably higher quality.
* out of ****
Size: 97.7 MB
Seller: Dynamic Systems Group
© 2012 The Galactic Pillow