Enlightenus is Latin for — wait, no it isn't! Actually, Enlightenus, from Forgotten Riddles creator Blue Tea Games, is a story-driven hidden object adventure game made backwards. Instead of looking for and collecting a list of items in cluttered rooms, your job is to find where items belong and put them back. Compare your inventory with the objects on the screen and decipher which items go in which location. It's a simple gameplay switcheroo that shoves Enlightenus away from the pack and into the spotlight.
You are Inspector Doubleleaf, a famous detective called by novelist Edgar Lee to unravel an intriguing mystery. The author has a machine that can transport him to different worlds, a trick he uses to find inspiration for his novels (cheater). An energy surge threw everything out of whack, however, scrambling his stories and hiding the pages of his novels in an alternate version of his mansion. And now it's your job to put everything back together.
The introduction eases you into this uniquely constructed game, and subsequent chapters expand on the concept in measured increments. As you explore each room of the mansion you'll come across pages of Edgar's novel. Each page is a hidden object scene (well, the opposite of that, but you get my drift) that, when completed, gives you buttons that are used to complete puzzles elsewhere in the mansion. It all weaves together into a fantastic plot that feels like a cross between Myst and Harry Potter.
Putting objects in their place is much more of a brain trick than you might think. Your only clues are the names of inventory items and short labels found around the scene. For example, an item might be labeled "hostage cow" and a UFO floating in the background might be casting a "bovine beam" to the ground. See how that works itself out? Some objects have to be used before you can uncover uses for other items. Can't very well see the bovine beam if the barn door is shut, can you? A hint system serves as a gentle nudge, but don't rely on it too much. Completing found object scenes will require some actual thought and light riddle solving, something many hidden object gamers aren't used to.
Analysis: Enlightenus isn't a comedic game, but I couldn't help but grin at its premise. I mean, here I am putting found objects back where they belong, almost like I'm cleaning up after some hidden object gamer played the very same stage! Besides the twist on the genre, Enlightenus also has a distinct Azada or Dream Chronicles feel, and you really can't go wrong if you follow in those footsteps.
If I were to choose one area Enlightenus needs improvement, I would have to say accessibility. Despite its reverse mechanics and adventure game leanings, this game falls into the hidden object genre. Hidden object games tend to be straightforward. From exploring environments to finding items in a scene, everything takes place on a nice and neat track. Enlightenus encourages you to move around and explore, solve puzzles in your own order, and unravel a number of riddles. This non-linearity will frighten a small set of casual gamers away, though, in truth, it shouldn't. Perhaps its a fault of our genre labeling habit, as I don't feel Enlightenus got anything "wrong" in its design.
Enlightenus is a beautiful and inspired game, from its story to presentation to the scattering of apropos mini-games. You'll love the atmosphere, you'll adore the adventure sensibilities, and after you get accustomed to it, you'll love putting objects back where they belong.