Shipwrecked on a mysterious island? Wife missing? I think I know this story…
Twisted Lands: Shadow Town is the latest casual offering from Alawar Entertainment. Being a combination of both hidden object and point and click adventuring, Twisted Lands tries to appeal to a wider range of fans, but runs the risk of pleasing neither.
Point and click adventures rely heavily on teh strength of their story and Twisted Lands gets off to a good, if slightly cliched start. The player and their loved one are quite happily doing a bit of boating and diving when everything goes a bit weird. The next thing you know, you awaken on a beach along with the wreckage of your boat and your wife is no where to be found. From there on in, as you search frantically for your wife, things get progressively weird and creepy. They also become increasingly confusing, with the plot being thrown all over the place. Being a casual game, the sense of fear and foreboding never really develops into anything more tangible than the random ghost that the player will see, which is a shame but understandable.
The player moves around various areas of the island, in a point and click style, solving the puzzles that they find on the way. A lot of the puzzles revolve around using objects that can be found in one of the hidden object areas. I like the way this works, giving more meaning to the hidden object aspect. But none of the puzzles are especially taxing, with the game offering only a very low difficulty level.
The hidden object areas are well done, with plenty of randomly placed stuff to try and camouflage that which the player needs to find. As with any hidden object game, the success relies mostly on the quality of the graphics, and in Twisted Lands this is achieved. The scenes are clear and crisp enough to see everything in detail, whilst muddled enough to offer a little challenge for the object hunters. Some hidden object games are lazy and have a tendency to hide things in an unrealistic way. But Shadow Lands offers what are believable, albeit very cluttered, scenes which comfortably follow the theme of the given area. The result is a quite satisfying hidden object aspect to the game.
Players will move from hidden object areas to puzzles and back again fairly seamlessly, all the while following the strange story. There is a lot of returning to previously investigated areas, which can be a touch annoying, but makes sense within the game.
Outside of the hidden object areas, the visuals continue to offer an atmospheric setting that feels right within the context of the game. There are some great locations to be found and everything is finished to a standard that you would expect from a casual title, that is not ground breaking, but competent. The sound within the game is very good, with some suitably creepy tunes adding to the atmosphere.
As with most casual games that have a predetermined end, Shadow Lands is not what you would call a long game and can be quite happily completed within a single afternoon. Even with the relatively low difficulty level and slightly confusing story, it is still a satisfying experience. The collector’s edition of the game comes with just a little more gameplay, in the form of an extra chapter to the story. Whilst this extra chapter doesn’t really make any more sense of the main story, it does feel like a natural continuation and is gratefully received.
Currently, Twisted Lands: Shadow Town is available at www.Alawar.com for the better part of $20. This does seem a bit pricey for a casual game, especially one that is likely to be over in one afternoon. But fans of this style of game will likely get their money’s worth.
Twisted Lands: Shadow Town does suffer from a couple of problems, namely the story and longevity. But otherwise it is a very competent game, with some nice ideas. It is stated that this is the first game in a new saga that will explore the emotion of fear. I am not sure how successfully fear has been explored in this game, but it has certainly got me interested to see what is offered next in this saga. If you have the money to spare and fancy an afternoon on a creepy island, looking for hidden objects, then this game is for you.