Hidden Expedition: Smithsonian Castle, the newest hidden-object adventure from Eipix Interactive and Big Fish Games, opens with a lady scientist in the 1800s having a science-like breakthrough. Hooray! But then of course her children ruin everything, with her Darwin Award-winning daughter gleefully wandering up to the dangerous electrical device to get sucked in, and the scientist destroys the device in a fit of despair, so it was nice while it lasted, I guess. Back in present day, you and your fellow H.E.L.P. agent are called to the Smithsonian Castle, the Smithsonian Institute's administration building, when a strange power outage reveals an intruder making a strange theft. It quickly becomes apparent this ain't your average burglary, however, and your thief ain't your average thief either. It's a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey adventure as you uncover a love and a caper that spans centuries. You'll hunt for items through a variety of hidden-object scenes that change how they play, solve so many puzzles and minigames it's a wonder anyone at the Smithsonian can get anything done, and learn that the Smithsonian's insect cabinet was built in the 17th century and assembled from walnut, oak, and fruitwood, and... wait... I feel... weird. What's happening to me? Am I... learning? Is this an... educational game? NooooOOooOOoo! Someone fetch me some episodes of The Real Housewives of Wherever, STAT!
What it is with hotels? If it's not demons, it's curses or a war between evil, and some other evil. Or, well, maybe it's you, since you and your friend James (who you keep rather endearingly labeled in your scrapbook as "professional detective") seem to constantly find yourselves wrapped up in bed-and-breakfast themed trouble. In Elephant Games' hidden-object adventure Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence, James has kicked the bucket, taken a dirt nap, bought the farm, ridden the pale horse... he's totes dead, yo, and a note slipped under your door from him that was presumably written before that happen tells you the Holy Mountain Hotel is the cause of it all. You quickly discover there's nothing sacred about this place, and though it looks as if it's been abandoned for years, it's clear that the people who have visited it have all had one thing in common... guilt. If you want to survive the spectre meting out justice from beyond the grave, you'll need to hunt for clues and items to solve puzzles, and of course crack a few hidden-object scenes along the way. And you know what? Maybe the next time I need somewhere to stay while I'm traveling I'll just... I'll just couch surf a little.
Look, I'm all about the sisterhood and female empowerment, but there are some chicks I just can't stand behind in solidarity. I mean, right around the time you earn the moniker of "most prolific female serial killer in history" is probably when I stop throwing up the horns to support you. O2D takes on what might be Hugary's most notorious historical figure with Vampire Legends: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bathory, a hidden-object adventure where you, a gypsy woman, have been hired to find a young girl named Agnes. She was invited to stay with the Countess Bathory, along with a bunch of other young women, which totally isn't suspicious at all, and even though they've all been missing for months, the king is too busy with the war to concern himself with their disappearances. You know what they say. All that is required for evil to triumph is for nobody to think it's that weird to send their daughters off to stay with the sinister bourgeois. Using your ability to mix helpful potions that can give you an edge and psychic impressions, you must discover the truth behind the Countess and the disappearances, but it's pretty clear that despite a mysterious benefactor, something sinister it happening. As you play and solve puzzles, you'll gather herbs and ingredients for various potions, and the hidden-object scenes will have you track items down in various ways. Hopefully you haven't bitten off more than you can chew... ha! I slay me. HA! Get it? Slay? Vampire? I'm here all week, folks.
Ah, the holidays. It's just not Christmas if there isn't a jealous, grunting old man creeping outside your window, brandishing a disturbing knobby... branch... while you and your beloved share a tender moment. That beloved holiday tradition is the start of Elephant Games's entry into the Christmas Stories hidden-object adventure series,
Christmas Stories: Hans Christian Andersen's Tin Soldier. Charles and Nina have been turned into toys thanks to a curse and malfunctioning magic from their jealous voyeur, the Baron, and your friend Albert, who's also been transformed, has called you in to help. You'd think a fully grown human would be able to handle a bunch of toys, but the Baron has the surly box trolls on his side, and you have... uh... well, in his current form, Albert can crack you all the nuts you want, so bonus for snackies, I guess. Together with Albert, and Charles once you find him, you'll need to stop the Baron, who has an entire army of trolls on his side, and find Nina. To do so, you'll need to solve puzzles, enlist the aid of Albert and Charles to get past certain obstacles, hunt through hidden-object sequences, and of course, deal with the magical forces and other sneaky tricks of the Baron, who always seems to be one step ahead of you, despite not actually having feet anymore. With vibrant visuals, genuinely funny animation, and some unexpected heart, this Christmas casual should be on anyone's short list if you're looking for holiday cheer.
"The only other sound's the sweep, of easy wind and downy flake. " There's something strange and wonderful about wandering the forest at night during a snowfall. The hiss of the flakes as they accumulate, the crunch of your footsteps as you perambulate, the howl of the wolves that are dogging your every step...On second thought, maybe wandering the woods at night in the midst of a snowstorm isn't a particularly good idea. Especially if the woods are the sacred Celtic area around the tiny town of Dire Grove in Elephant Games' latest addition to the Mystery Case Files adventure hybrid collection, Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove. This sequel brings you back to the chilly burg of Dire Grove, which is once again in the throes of an unseasonal deep freeze along with a severe case of "When Animals Attack". This time around you will actually meet some of the inhabitants of Dire Grove as you work to solve the mystery of what is causing the freak snowstorms and the wild animal problems. Does it have something to do with the Druids, the Mistwalkers, or did the locals manage to do something to trigger the whole thing? Point-and-click your way through the gorgeous winter scenery to solve the mystery with the help of a lot of puzzle solving and hidden object finding.
In Elephant Games' hidden-object adventure/Jumanji lookalike Surface: Game of Gods, you play Alice Russell, whose friends go missing when they take part in a strange game you yourself were supposed to be a part of. Turns out the game, played every three years, has some very serious rules, and the players are contractually bound to face the threats that pop up when they roll the dice or die, which is something I would have thought we'd all learned to avoid when Quark taught us what a terrible idea that is. With your friends in danger from tabletop gone wrong, you have no choice but to sign the contract presented to you by the man with the infinitely smug and punchable face and play yourself to save them, presumably absolving yourself of ever feeling obligated to drive one of them to the airport or pay for pizza ever again. As you play, you'll follow your friends into the scenes they've trapped themselves in, solving puzzles and hidden-object scenes, as well as helping free the many centuries' worth of souls trapped in the game. Surface: Game of Gods is an appealingly creative and beautifully presented hidden-object adventure perfect for players looking for something cinematic and just the right amount of creepy-cool for an evening's play.
Eipix Entertainment takes the reins for Dark Parables: The Little Mermaid and the Purple Tide, the latest installment in Blue Tea Games' popular hidden-object adventure series, where you find yourself in Greece attempting to find the source of and stop a strange phenomenon flooding villages and killing off all the sea life. Turns out all of this is tied to the mysterious temple that's risen out of the sea, and a war fought long ago between two kingdoms, one of which had the brilliant idea to summon the Sea Goddess who promptly sank and cursed the kingdom to end the fighting in what might be the most epic fit of "I'll give you something to cry over" ever. Now the king, transformed into a hideous creature and sort of bitter about non-monstrous "Landwalkers" like yourself, is trying to use her power once more against the whole world, and it's up to you to stop him. You'll travel across one seriously big map, do battle with a persistent (and giant) poisonous eel, solve perplexing puzzles and fragmented hidden-object scenes, and fight the urge to make more fish based puns than anyone has any right to.
In Elephant Games' hidden-object adventure Grim Tales: Color of Fright, you're on your way to your annual family reunion, trying not to let the dramatic, threatening note that sounds like it was penned by an enthusiastic World of Darkness LARPer get to you. When you arrive at your family's castle, however, you find your family missing and some seriously freaky mojo going on. See, turns out the family's adopted little brother Thomas has some serious baggage and some potentially unhealthy attachments to his adoptive sister Luisa, who he believes "abandoned" him when she fell in love and had a family with someone else. While this might make for a slightly awkward family reunion, add to that Thomas has discovered he has the ability to make his art come to life, even to create whole worlds inside his drawings, and thanks to some epic sense of entitlement, he's using it to take revenge on the family he feels has ignored him. You'll need to use your own unique sixth sense to track him down while solving puzzles and hidden-object scenes and looking for items, but also a unique paint-by-the-magical-symbols kit you probably won't find in your typical craft store that can help you create things that will come to life and aid you.
Nancy Drew isn't as well known or as popular these days as she's been in decades past, which is sort of a shame, since even though the gal is pushing ninety (the first books came out in the 1930s!), she's pretty rad. Nancy has solved hundreds of mysteries over the decades, from small town crime and murder to globe-trotting conspiracies, but there's always been one she's never solved... the death of her mother. In Her Interactive's point-and-click adventure game Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy, Nancy receives a letter telling her what she's always suspected all along... that her mother's fatal car accident eight years ago was no accident, and indeed that Kate Drew may have been killed by a group she was investigating. See, as it turns out, Kate helped thwart a biological terrorist attack nearly ten years ago, and while nobody knows what the ultimate goals of the group known as Revenant were, everyone in Glasgow is getting understandably nervous as the anniversary of the attack approaches. Now drawn in with the promise of finally finding out what happened to her mother, Nancy might get the answers she's always wanted... though figuring out who to trust, and how to stay alive, is another matter.
Hotel Berkley is haunted, though I don't know what you'd expect from a place with more menacing statuary than rooms and peeling wallpaper, exposed wiring, and spiderwebs abound. While the guests have been fleeing in fear from apparitions and nightmares, including one woman whose husband is trapped inside when she bravely runs off to leave him to fend off the green ghostly stink fog himself, the hotel owner seems more mildly annoyed by it than anything else. Luckily, she's called you in, a journalist who knows that a leaf blower is the best answer to unruly spooks, and your uncanny ability to notice that the really obvious mechanisms around you might be worth fiddling with. Elefun Games' hidden-object adventure Fear for Sale: The 13 Keys might be more unintentionally funny than freaky as its characters react in really put-upon ways to the cosmic horrors after them, but is still a fun romp for fans of campy horror. As you soon discover, there's a reason for all the passive-aggressive haunting going on, and maybe that whiny hotel keeper knows a bit more than she's letting on. Maybe a good night's sleep will shed some light on things? Either that or pull you into a series of bizarre, distorted nightmares through the machinations of some creepy "hey gurl" looking specter who peeps in through windows at you wearing a top hat. Whichever.
In Elephant Games' hidden-object adventure Riddles of Fate: Memento Mori, it turns out Death may be big and scary, but he also stinks at his job. There's a delicate balance between life and death, he tells you, and souls must die in order for the new ones to be born. Which, y'know, makes it sort of a big deal when a bunch of wicked souls decided to run from him rather than to go gently into that good night. Death claims he's afraid of accidentally punishing an innocent soul, so he needs your help as an expert detective to trot around the world and root out those who have gone to extremes to literally cheat Death. Not that that's apparently hard to do if running away takes you beyond the reach of his immortal powers. Using his magic ball (stop that snickering), you'll travel to different places around the world, each acting as its own contained story revolving around a different wayward soul. Periodically you'll also need to return to your home to make use of your tools to copy keys, decrypt writing, or develop photographs and so forth, but the bulk of your work is in solve puzzles, hidden-object scenes, and identifying suspects on the ground. The farther you go, the more it becomes apparent someone is actively meddling in Death's business, and yours.
I don't know why everyone makes such a big deal over kids. They're loud and nonsensical, you have to share your toys, and their hands are usually disconcertingly sticky. But some people get pretty attached to the little anklebiters, so when the town in Mariaglorum's hidden-object adventure League of Light: Wicked Harvest sees two of the whippersnappers vanish, they call in a detective (you!) to help sort things out. It soon becomes clear that something wicked is afoot in the world's most sinister looking town, and you'll need to search for clues, solve puzzles and hidden-object scenes, and discover the truth behind the shadowy figure stalking the town's children. All with the help of gaming's most adorable sidekick (sorry Clementine). Seriously. Not even kidding. Stir it all up and you have one campy but immensely enjoyable game that features clever puzzles, an intriguing and even exciting plot, not one but two bonus chapters, and a widdle bitty scarecrow pal who tries so hard to be spooky and puts on widdle hats aaaaaaaAAAAAA-
Mad Head Games' stunning hidden-object fantasy adventure Dark Realm: Queen of Flames begins with a village siege that would make Alduin proud, when you're awoken in the middle of the night by your father, the blacksmith, and told to take your mother's belongings and flee before the shadowy creatures outside break down the door. You have no chance but to flee the city as it burns, but there's no running from destiny, and go figure... turns out the magical boots and mysterious brooch your mother left behind hint at a pretty big destiny for you indeed. One involving the fire banshees stalking your family, and a dragon so nasty he literally busts up your user interface. You'll need to solve magical puzzles and hidden-object scenes, uncover family secrets, unlock spells and enchanted items to help you, and more if you want to save your father as well as the kingdom. With a remarkably well told story with its share of twists and memorable scenes and visuals that might just set a new standard for casual games, this is one adventure any fan should feel proud to add to their library.
In Eipix Entertainment's flashy and classy hidden-object adventure Danse Macabre: Moulin Rouge, you've been summoned to solve the murder of a young woman at the legendary concert hall, and though the police think they have their killer, we wouldn't have much of a game if hat were the case. (Shortest game in history. "Oh, our mistake, madame, please go back home and enjoy some pastries." Credits roll.) As you probe deeper, you soon discover there's something seriously weird happening on the streets of Paris, and Sophie, the poor girl who was murdered, is just the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, you've got your forensic kit at your disposal, and despite the sneering of the local police, you're sure this "new science" will reveal the killer. With your own private coach, you'll travel around the city as you put together connections revealing suspect after suspect and discovering their motives, solving puzzles, hidden-object sequences... and maybe even polishing up your bartending skills a little.
Please note that this game deals with suicide. Players who are sensitive to the subject matter should be aware.
Tap it Games and Artifex Mundi's hidden-object adventure 9 Clues: The Ward begins with a frantic phone call that brings you, a private investigator, and your partner, a guy who always looks like he suspected you farted and is disappointed in you for it, to remote, self-sufficient Mnemosyne Asylum. Only when you arrive, the director insists nobody has called for help... a statement that seems a little dubious when a body goes hurtling out a window right behind her mere moments later. The victim is Doctor Crow, a therapist, and notes on his body point to a slipping grasp on reality, as well as rambling indications of some vague sense of guilt. It quickly becomes apparently this old asylum has its share of skeletons in its closet, but the more you investigate, the more you begin to suffer strange... lapses. What's going on in Mnemosyne Asylum? What secrets are its staff and patients hiding? Who seriously hangs paintings like that on their walls?