From Orneon, crafters of The Agency of Anomalies: Mystic Hospital, comes Secrets of the Dark: Temple of Night, a hidden object/casual adventure game steeped in legends, demons, and a town that's a little on the strange side. The game uses a creative light/dark mechanism that allows you to peer into the demon world simply by turning off or blocking the lights in a room. This morphs the scene and opens up new passageways, reveals new items and objects to explore, and disseminates new bits of story that you'll gobble up like delicious popcorn.
Your journalist friend Peter seems to be in trouble. While staying in an almost deserted town in the middle of the desert, he sends you a message saying he's stumbled upon a demonic plot to break loose and destroy the world. They only need one more sacrifice to pull the job off, and judging by the demons hot on his trail, Peter is that one. You rush off to his rescue, only to find a ghost town filled with creaky signs, locked doors, and more demonic mysteries than a bookshelf filled with H.P. Lovecraft tales.
To save Peter and get to the bottom of this town's mysteries, you'll do what any good casual gamer does: go on a hidden object adventure. Choose between Regular and Advanced Mode at the beginning of the game, the former offering a faster charging hint timer as well as sparkles that denote areas of interest. Search the town as thoroughly as you can, stopping to read pieces of information from strange items you find.
Inevitably, you'll hit an exploration wall and will need to solve some puzzles to continue. To solve a puzzle you'll need some items, and items can be found through general nosiness as well as via hidden object scenes. With the correct item in your inventory, you can return to the scene of the puzzle, insert part A into receptacle C and be on your merry way.
Analysis: Orneon knows its hidden object adventure games, and Secrets of the Dark: Temple of Night is some of their finest work. The game is delicately crafted from all sides, meshing together a good story with interesting gameplay and puzzles that never rely on trite gaming mechanisms to artificially expand the experience. The result is a full, unique, and well-paced game that is genuinely intriguing to play!
Secrets of the Dark includes a number of fantastic little touches that makes it all the more immersive in nature. The most obvious of these is how many pieces of the environment shift or animate when you click on them, even though they offer nothing and add nothing to the story. Knocking signs down and pushing glasses across the table is a lot of fun! It may not seem like much, but when you feel like you can affect the game world, it becomes yours.
Story is immensely important in Secrets of the Dark, and it's told in a very exciting, intriguing sort of way. You'll find tapes made by Peter as you explore the town. Each will reveal a bit of backstory while furthering your sense of dread. Viewing certain items also fills in some information and encourages you to really explore the game with your cursor, clicking on anything and everything that catches your fancy.
If you're hunting for a hidden object adventure game that's heavy on the latter, lighter on the former, and so steeped in horror-style myth that you'll be afraid to close the curtains in your room, Secrets of the Dark is a definite win. It's well-made from every angle and offers a smart, deep adventure game from beginning to end.
A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains exclusive bonus adventures, a bonus mini-game, wallpapers, and an in-game strategy guide. 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.