Love them or loathe them, you can’t deny the popularity of Hidden Object games. With their relaxed gameplay, family-friendly stories and (usually) plucky and quick-witted heroines, they are the definition of casual gaming. So whether you devour each new release in the genre, avoid them like the plague; or guiltily play them between fixes of something more ‘hardcore’: Treasure Seekers 3 by G5 Entertainment is one of the best Hidden Object games on the iPad yet.
The third installment in a series, Treasure Seekers 3 sees Nelly and Tom embark on a fresh new adventure filled with mysteries to unravel, which they mostly achieve by spending the game scanning beautifully illustrated HD graphical scenes for objects ranging from the every day (a shovel or a bottle) to the frankly bizarre (a skull wearing a top hat or an orange-painted pig).
It is the 1930s, and the mystery-busting duo have been called on to investigate paranormal goings on as they travel the world to free ghosts trapped by an evil alchemist. From England to Siberia they roam, discovering what it takes to release the spirits they encounter along the way in what builds up to be a charming and enjoyable adventure story.
The core of the game involves the usual Hidden Object staples: intentionally busy screens bursting with detail and a list of items to find within them. As is the norm, a constantly recharging hint meter allows you to find hard-to-spot objects, which can be useful when trying to find tiny items well hidden in the shadows or concealed amongst the scenery.
Interspersed with these scenes are puzzles, which again are classic casual gaming fare: sliding blocks, jigsaws and code-breaking segments; which all help add to the variety of gameplay on offer. And as this is a casual title, you can always skip the harder puzzles without any penalty, helping the story to move along at a good pace, even if it does detract from the overall challenge.
What sets this title apart from the competition are the adventure game components. Each chapter is made up of several scenes and – like classic point-and-click adventure games – you often have to achieve a task or find an object in one area in order to progress in the next. For example, in a windmill in Germany, you are tasked with creating a sleeping potion to knock out a carnivorous plant (as you do). A to-do list at the bottom of the screen provides clues of what you need to do; and before long you find yourself swatting flies inside the mill, then searching the grounds of a mystical garden for a jug before returning (via a portal in a mirror) to a Frankenstein-style laboratory to mix the sleeping draft itself. Enjoyable and imaginative stuff.
There are two other welcome breaks from the Hidden Object norm. First, some items require you to combine two other objects (e.g. lighting a lamp with candle; or placing a weight on a set of balancing scales), meaning your investigative powers aren’t limited to simply staring at a screen from top to bottom. Second, each scene usually contains ‘key’ objects. Press these and a radial pop-up appears showing the silhouettes of the other objects required to make the key item ‘work’ or go. All things which when combined stop Treasure Seekers 3 from becoming monotonous.
Production values are extremely high for a title like this. The graphics are lovingly hand-painted scenes, containing charming animations and little details which will appeal to young and old gamers alike. Sound affects and music are simple, yet of high quality and add to the atmosphere. And the story itself plays like a classic Nancy Drew mystery, with well-written dialogue and its own sense of supernatural logic.
For fans of the genre, Treasure Seekers 3 is amongst the best of the Hidden Object games currently available on the iPad. Perfectly suited for a touch-screen interface, the game will have you keen to seek out its treasures whether you’re a diehard Hidden Object fan, a casual gaming aficionado – or someone who secretly loves playing these kinds of titles when no-one else is watching…
Treasure Seekers 3 – Follow The Ghosts is available for the iPad and iPhone as a free download with the full game unlockable in-app for £2.99 on iPhone and £4.99 on iPad.