Kate Arrow: Deserted Wood is a new hidden object adventure game created by relative newcomer to the casual gaming scene, Mariaglorum. Kate's grandfather, an explorer with all the trimmings, saved a native tribe decades ago, and now he's devoted his life to tracking down the sacred idols the tribe has lost. He finally accomplished his goal, but in his haste to return them, he left the final idol at home. Your first tasks in this gradually unfolding story are to find the idol, find grandpa's map, and locate your camera so you can set off to adventure.
Kate Arrow is divided into chapters that play out within half a dozen or so rooms. You can travel back and forth between these rooms just like in any point-and-click game, and you'll need to do just that in order to complete the objectives for the area. Hunting down pieces of a key inventory item, for example, often requires you to move between scenes, completing hidden object puzzles and solving other riddles in the process. It's a very organic experience that feels quite natural, never bordering on the dangerous "Hey, you just made me do that just to take up more time" zone.
Most of the time you'll be poking around fairly empty rooms looking for a few stray items or special areas you can interact with. A locked cabinet looks awfully appealing, as does that dark staircase in the corner. Often, though, you can't reach these places without first locating another item. You do this by visiting rooms with hidden object scenes and finding a dozen or so items there. Key object in hand, you can return to the rest of the game, solve a puzzle, complete a mini-game, and continue on your journey.
Analysis: So much about Kate Arrow: Deserted Wood is straightforward, fuzzy around the edges, and easy to predict. The game isn't going for massive blockbuster status, it simply aims to be an understandable and enjoyable hidden object game you can play without pulling your hair out. It accomplishes just that, with a soft visual style, relaxing music, and a generous hint system that's always there if you get stuck.
In fact, Kate Arrow's strengths can also be its weaknesses. Don't expect too much challenge from this game, either from the puzzles, the mini-games, or the hidden objects themselves, as everything is pretty much right in front of your face. You'll have to hunt and poke around a few times, but your synapses will barely have to fire up to get things done. Also, the game is unfortunately another one of those short ones, clocking in around four hours, give or take.
Kate Arrow may be a fairly standard hidden object adventure game, but its emphasis on story and the serene presentation make it a pleasant experience to settle into. Everything is quiet, interesting, and completely casual on every level.