You wake up. Disoriented. Outside of an abandoned town. All you know is your motorcycle is ruined, but a series of vague images continually float through your mind. The town you're stranded outside of was evacuated decades ago because of a fire in the mines. Coal is still burning below the surface, and something ghostly walks the streets above ground. Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock, a sequel to Vampire Saga: Pandora's Box, is an extraordinarily well-done hidden object adventure that incorporates classic horror film methods to create a creepy, captivating world that draws your interest out with each and every step you take.
A casual adventure at its core, Vampire Saga unleashes hidden object scenes at a long pace, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the game's wealth of inventory-related puzzles. Search for areas you can take a closer look at by clicking on the shining spots, then figure out what you might need to solve the puzzle. Move from scene to scene by clicking the navigation arrows, and when you find an item you think might come in handy, try using it! More often than not, the object that solves a puzzle will be easily found and immediately obvious what you'll need to do with it, it's just a matter of getting there and getting things done.
Vampire Saga features a few shortcut mechanics that every single hidden object game released in the future should incorporate. The first is a sort of hot/cold radar for locating items during the hidden object scenes. Move the cursor around the area and watch the list of items below. See some of them slowly turning green? The greener the word, the closer your cursor is to the object. No more scouring every pixel to find a pair of binoculars! Vampire Saga makes it so you have automatic help if you need it, turning hidden object scenes into pure fun.
The second feature in Vampire Saga that should be emulated is the quick-travel photo album. After visiting a scene, you can access their images by clicking on the photographs below. Look at a shot, see if there's something you need to do there, then click the "travel" button to instantly transport yourself there. No more tedious clicking to backtrack, just instant travel for instant puzzle solving. It's simple, but it goes a long way to making the game more accessible and more entertaining.
Analysis: Do mystery games intrigue you? Does the horror genre make you all goosebumpey and happy on the inside? Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock is totally the game for you. Casual adventure games rarely get this sort of genre right, often resorting to cheesy gimmicks or tired tropes in an attempt to coax a scare out of the player. Here, though, you'll be genuinely interested, especially after you see the, well, "smoke human" and find your own face on an empty can. I'll say no more!
Vampire Saga has the unfortunate habit of holding your hand a bit too frequently, providing loud sparkles for objects you need to interact with, and a hint system that walks you right to the next task. Depending on where you stand on the subject, this may or may not be a drawback. And besides, most of the helpful nudges the game gives you can simply be ignored, so if you want more of a challenge, just don't ask for help!
Also worth noting: Vampire Saga is longer than your average hidden object title, clocking it at five to six hours of playtime for most users. It's a rare game that's genuinely scary without resorting to cheap thrills, Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock is a satisfying hidden object adventure with a number of great gameplay features that make it a complete joy to experience!