Something unusual is going down at the Cornwall Celtic Festival. And we're not just talking about the Gaelic language workshop. Your ex-fiance Robert called you out of nowhere. Then, a scream. Static. And the phone goes dead. You know Robert has a habit of investigating supernatural occurences, but this seems... different. Naturally, you set out to investigate, beginning the new hidden object adventure release from Elephant Games, Hallowed Legends: Samhain.
Following most hidden object conventions closely, Hallowed Legends: Samhain takes you on a somewhat spooky journey through dark and haunted areas surrounding the festival grounds and well beyond. You navigate with the mouse, clicking arrows that appear to move from scene to scene. Hints appear to show you areas you can investigate further, and more often than not, these lead to short hidden object scenes with a dozen or so items to find. Complete the scene, get an item, and use that item to solve a puzzle so you can continue on your adventure.
Objectives are displayed clearly at the top of the screen, but you'll usually need to do a bit of poking around to find the things you need to proceed. Hallowed Legends: Samhain isn't as straightforward of a march as some hidden object games can be, allowing you the freedom (and affording you the challenge) to explore, experiment, and solve puzzles on your own. You'll even encounter a smattering of mini-games while you play, though many of them are pretty standard fare.
Story and setting are important aspects in Hallowed Legends: Samhain, and even though the plot begins with a few tired ideas, things really pick up once you get in to the game. You'll need to keep an eye on your journal to uncover new plot details, many of which are vital to proceeding. And, as always, a handy hint button is there, ready to nudge you out of a tight spot, whether that be in the midst of a hidden object scene or without.
Analysis: Elephant Games has established itself as a studio capable of creating good hidden object adventures with releases like Mystery Trackers: The Void and Lost in the City. Now, with Hallowed Legends, the team twists things a little and proves its also capable of improving upon established ideas, honing the interface of this latest release to make it much more enjoyable to play. From the fast-moving cursor to the no-fuss scene transitions, journal system, and lovely hint system, Hallowed Legends makes itself easy and accessible to play.
Lengthwise, expect a sturdy four or five hours from Hallowed Legends, a bite or two more than most hidden object games provide these days. The experience is satisfying from beginning to end, but keep in mind that the first portion of the game is more plodding and unoriginal than the latter bits. You likely won't be able to see many of the game's better moments from the demo, which is a real shame, considering how good it gets a few hours in.
Apart from the slow start, Hallowed Legends doesn't really have any major flaws worth delineating. There's a good stock of unlockables to be had, achievements to uncover, a good story with strong puzzles, and scenes that are well-illustrated. If you aren't opposed to dipping your cursor into another "scary" themed hidden object game, Hallowed Legends: Samhain will prove itself worthy of plenty of praise!
A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter to play, wallpapers, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.