Miriel's Enchanted Mystery
People need to take more care of their magical eggs these days. Leaving them in basements, bus stops, and other people's gardens is a great way to put the entire kingdom in danger, as you'll discover in the new time management title from Myth People, Miriel's Enchanted Mystery, a follow-up to Miriel the Magical Merchant. When Miriel's grandmother shows up at her shop one day with a strange egg she's found, Miriel doesn't know what to make of it. She tucks it away in her shop and goes about serving her customers, never suspecting that she's just shoved an ancient relic in behind the bags of flour and last week's apples. Adventure and magic is all very good, but Miriel has a shop to run! But she's about to discover that sometimes adventure comes looking for you, too.
Control is simple, clicking on screen to direct Miriel to interact with objects. Before you can serve anyone, you'll have to order items by clicking on the appropriate picture on the board by the shelf, which can only hold so many items at a time. Customers arrive along the bottom of the screen and display their order in a word balloon. Pick up their items and drop them off quickly to earn a bonus, then click on the gold they leave to collect it. Make sure you don't take too long or they'll storm out, which can hurt your chances of achieving your daily goal.
But it's not all apples and flour. As you progress, Miriel learns new spells that can help out in the shop, recipes that you can bake for more valuable products, and a host of other upgrades for your humble little shop. You can also unlock actual recipes that you can cook yourself!... which, uh... is a mildly perplexing addition that makes you think someone at the company really wanted to go to culinary school instead and is a little hung up on it. But it's a cute touch nonetheless. And, hey! Who doesn't like macaroni, anyway?
And, of course, it turns out looks do go a long way as well. Everything in Miriel's Enchanted Mystery is crisp, clean, and well drawn. Even if the animation for each sprite only consists of a few frames, it's still bright and colourful and cute as the proverbial button.
Analysis: Alright, so Miriel's story isn't the stuff of sweeping fantasy epics, and you probably shouldn't hold your breath to see Orlando Bloom playing Granny any time soon. But as fluffy and predictable as it can sometimes be, it serves to drive the game along nicely. More variation in the stores would have been appreciated, but you'll still travel all over the realm as Miriel completes quests to unlock the mystery of her egg. You'll serve different types of customers, make all sorts of new items to sell, and meet mysterious people you may or may not be able to trust. (Just like in real life retail.) Man, I wish I was magic like Miriel. The only things I ever find in my garden are weeds and stinging insects. *sigh*
But while the game does feature some hidden-object scenes, the unfortunate reality is that for the most part they're really not much more as a minor nuisance. You're hunting about for pieces of the same objects nearly every time, and the only thing that ever really changes is the scenery. Buddy, if you keep ripping up that kite whenever we bring it to you and losing the pieces, we're going to start doubting the veracity of your wise and mysterious claims. While I can appreciate any attempt to shake up a genre, the object hunting here tends to fall flat and definitely isn't as fleshed out as it could have been.
The good news is that while it doesn't add anything new to the genre, as a time-management title, Miriel's Enchanted Mystery is definitely solid. The action ramps up gradually and is usually just enough to keep you on your toes without making you feel overwhelmed. If you fail to meet the requirements for a day's victory, you can just try again with no penalty. Just remember, if a customer starts to get angry, just like in real life, the best solution is to shove an entire plate full of free candy down their throats. I know that's how I solved all my problems at my old job.
If you're a fan of time management, you'll likely enjoy Miriel's Enchanted Mystery. It's not a revolutionary title, but it's a high-quality one that will satisfy fans and is light-hearted enough that kids can enjoy it, too. With enough adventure and challenge to handle a few evening's worth of play, not to mention goals and recipes to unlock, Miriel's Enchanted Mystery is a polished, tasty little tale that's easily worth a demo download.