A Familiar Game With Some Unfamiliar Twists
Hidden object games have remained a best-selling staple of the casual games market for so long now that it sometimes seems that they all just blend together. So it’s refreshing when one comes along that throws in just enough twists to separate it from the pack. While A Gypsy’s Tale: Tower of Secrets isn’t the best of its kind I’ve played, it does introduce enough unique elements to make it worth a look for both hidden object and adventure game fans.
Players are put into the role of Reylin, a gypsy maiden hired by a monk to rescue a girl trapped within the mysterious Tower of Secrets. To accomplish this deed you must navigate a maze of screens depicting various locations, all while solving puzzles, finding hidden objects, and engaging in some old-school point-and-click adventuring. What at first seems like a simple task becomes challenging as more locations are discovered. Not only will you need to have a good memory for what objects exist in which locations, but also a keen sense of observation.
The game does offer a couple of aids in your quest. The first is a map that can be used to instantly jump to locations you’ve previously visited. The catch is that to add a location to your map, you must first find all the crystals hidden in that location. Each location has a set number of crystals available to find, and will be added to your map as soon as you pick up the final crystal. While these crystals aren’t particularly hard to find, the game is not above throwing out red herrings in some scenes to make things a little more difficult.
The other helpful aid is the objective window which tells you what your next goal should be. While many of the puzzles are intuitive enough to figure out without this assistance, the objective window does come in handy for situations in which you just don’t have a clue where the game is expecting you to go. Veteran adventure gamers will likely find that it robs the game of additional challenge, but casual gamers are sure to appreciate the guidance.
Seek and Ye Shall Find
Gameplay consists of a mix of hidden object searching, solving puzzles, and using objects on the environment in the style of classic adventure games. Hidden object searches are unique in that you are never given a list of objects to find. Instead, clicking on certain trigger objects in the environment open up a container view consisting of pictures of the objects you need to find. For example, clicking on a rose may open up a “flower” container showing you five or six different flowers you need to click on. Completing this task usually results in an item being added to your inventory. While these searches aren’t as tough as many other hidden object games which have you scouring cluttered screens full of hundreds of objects, they do occasionally pose a challenge when items are small or blend into the environment.
The adventure game aspect of A Gypsy’s Tale is far more prominent than the hidden object stuff, and is where the game really tries to set itself apart. Not all items are one-use, which means an item you earned on the first screen of the game may still be in your inventory and useful for different puzzles later on. In addition, you’ll be given the opportunity to purchase necessary items from an item shop you come across using the crystals you’ve collected in each scene. Along with the adventure gameplay of combining objects, you’ll also run into occasional mini-game puzzles. While most of these are nothing you haven’t seen before in other games of this type, they do serve as a refreshing break in the gameplay and provide a nice mental workout.
Once Upon a Time…
A Gypsy’s Tale features an excellent musical score to get you into the fantasy spirit. The classical accompaniment serves as a charming companion to the artwork, which is depicted with a hand-painted, children’s book flair. The background scenes also contain simple animations of some of the creatures and people you’ll meet. While the graphics aren’t the greatest I’ve ever seen in a casual game of this type, they are oddly fitting for the fairy tale atmosphere of the game.
Like most games of this type, the adventure should only take you a few hours to complete. Depending on your skill level, you’ll either find it a relative breeze or a bit of a head scratcher at times. Fortunately you do have access to a hint system, so gamers of any skill level should be able to complete the game without too much difficulty.
A Tale Worth Reading?
A Gypsy’s Tale: The Tower of Secrets does attempt to change up the hidden object formula a bit, and I give it credit for the old-school adventure title feel it tries to invoke. However, there are better blends of adventure, puzzle, and hidden object titles in this category for around the same price, so I can’t enthusiastically recommend it as an example of the best of the genre. Still, fans of retro-adventure titles and those just bored of the “same old same old” in the hidden object field may find themselves captivated by A Gypsy’s Tale’s storybook charm.