What do you get when you cross a potential Stephen King novel with a pinch of Indiana Jones, minus the Nazis? Not aliens. Better, I promise! You get the newest Mariaglorum game; Mystery of the Ancients: Curse of the Blackwater. This thrilling new hidden object puzzle adventure game is not only a new release by the team but also the newest installment in the Mystery of the Ancients series. And to get this out of the way: no, Shia Lebeouf has not decided to play a misunderstood rebel.
News has come in that the town of Blackwater is host to a rather ironic problem. The citizens are plagued by toxic black water and have essentially deserted their homes for fear of their lives. Before this evacuation could occur, however, two archaeologists went missing. Turns out this quiet seaside town is actually the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Poseidon and is guarded by the kraken. This most sleepy of beasts has been awoken by something sinister and is now trying to protect a treasure that could lead to the doom of the world if placed in the wrong hands. It's up to you to figure it all out and keep the world safe.
Blackwater starts you off with the option of two different difficulties which will determine whether you have a smooth play through or one that challenges your brain with no skip and a slowly recharging hint button. There is a journal that will log any pertinent information that you discover in your travels. The inventory is collapsible so you can enjoy the beauty of the scenes and also keep a well trained eye out for any helpful items. Your cursor will change when hovering over interactive items and to further the ease of your play there is a map that, get this, not only shows discovered areas that require action but will also transport you there. Fancy shmancy huh?
Analysis: Blackwater improves upon its predecessor which is without a doubt something to get excited about. Granted, you can't hurry the dialogue along by a simple click but you can skip some scenes outright. Also there are a couple cut scenes that seem to take a few seconds too long to switch back to normal play but it's nothing to cry home about and instead allows a good opportunity to pretend you're working on something "productive."
What really sticks as a hidden object game lover is the map. So few games seem to incorporate a map that allows for instant transport to the location you're looking at. Mariaglorum does that and even has a small hovering picture of the place so you get the visual recognition and reminder of what you could possibly have to do there. The art is striking with how easily it switches between ethereal ocean view, dilapidated fishing town, and powerful mythological hiding place. Not an easy task but it's one that visibly proves how talented the team is at their job. Last, but certainly not least, no repeating hidden object scenes despite consistent backtracking. It's always a rare treat when the hidden object scenes are limited to one run through and you don't have to constantly find a skull under a bed or four doves in a toolshed. To put it simply, Mariaglorum shows that they love their craft and they want to make a game that is going to be worth your time spent playing it and not try to jerk you around with needless searching.
A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, 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.