The Hunt for Akua
Another day, another National Geographic cover for the appropriately-named treasure seeker Eden Hunt. She's getting a bit bored, so when she receives a challenge in the mail to go to a mysterious island and find a treasure, she's game. "Game" turns out to be the operative word, because she's going to have to puzzle her way past her competitors if she wants to come out on top in Eden's Quest: the Hunt for Akua.
Eden's Quest will take you back to the days when your parents would give you books with titles like Jumbo Book of Puzzles or One Hundred and One Amazing Brain Teasers. The game is essentially a collection of dozens and dozens of puzzles from all kinda of genres, most notably the brain teaser variety. As you search the land for clues, traveling from one point-and-click location to another, you'll encounter loads of these mini-games that range wildly in style, complexity, and difficulty.
Contrary to the game's description, there is not a single hidden object scene to be found (picking up pieces of paper does not count as a hidden object scene!), although the setup does resemble the skeleton of some hidden object titles out there. If you're sniffing around this game for some item finding fun, get ready to discover something else entirely. It plays a bit like last year's Big Brain Wolf, though notably without the hilarious storyline and stronger exploration elements.
Analysis: Eden's Quest: The Hunt for Akua was made by Ouat Entertainment, creator of Pure Hidden. If you played Pure Hidden, you'll know exactly the kind of style to expect with Eden's Quest: light-hearted, casually entertaining, the perfect level of challenge, and a presentation that's easy on the eyes.
Despite a premise that could genuinely be exciting, the script saps all the energy. I found myself clicking through dialogue as fast as I could just to get to the next set of puzzles. I was genuinely surprised by some of the plot twists, but then I realized it was because the characters were flatter than flounders and comparable to them in terms of human motivation too. In fact, that ought to be a brain teaser for the next game: if the entire cast were replaced with flounders opening and closing their mouths in dull surprise, how much more interesting would this script be?
While that's certainly an area that could be improved, the five plus hours of gameplay I racked up in story mode were spent on the puzzles, and the game there is a lot of fun. While there are a few puzzle genres represented that I dislike (slider puzzles! *shakes fist at heavens*), and doubtless a few that you will dislike as well, the sheer variety means that you're on to the next thing before you get too frustrated. My favorite by far was the recurring mini-game YoX, a fast-playing two player strategy game where one player moves horizontally, the other vertically. That game was so well-done, I played it every chance I got, and would love to see it released as a standalone title.
If you're in the mood for puzzles, mini-games and brain teasers, Eden's Quest will scratch that itch for sure. I'll hop along for the ride next time Eden sets out — flounder or no flounder.