Ready to scratch your hidden object itch? Hidden Expedition: Amazon has arrived! Along with the Mystery Case Files series, the Hidden Expedition games are some of the best-known titles in the hidden object genre. And for good reason. Hidden Expedition: Amazon has extraordinarily high production values, interesting gameplay that tweaks the familiar formula in very subtle ways, and plenty of crowded scenes to scrutinize.
Hidden Expedition: Amazon drops you right into object hunting from the start and the story gradually unfolds as you play. Professor Mandible has gone missing while journeying through the Amazon jungle. You must follow clues left in his wake to piece together the mystery behind his disappearance and find the elusive Beetle Temple. Each area is littered with dozens items cleverly hidden amongst the scenery. Read the list at the bottom of the screen, then try and find those objects in the picture above. An optional hint system helps you if you get stuck, but otherwise its just you, your eyes, and the pixels.
Instead of just straight-up object finding, Hidden Expedition: Amazon takes a page from the Azada handbook and throws a little adventure flavor into the mix. Each location you travel to features a number of areas you can travel between. Certain items will be added to your inventory in these areas and will need to be carried to other scenes to complete puzzles and find all of the objects. Areas of the screen and items in your list that require your inventory will be shown in blue.
The most useful new feature in Hidden Expedition: Amazon is the item silhouette images that appear when clicking on objects in your list. This shows you a shadowed outline of the item you're searching for, taking every ounce of ambiguity out of the object hunt and allowing you to focus on relevant items. For example, if the list says "pizza", should you look for a round disc or just a slice? Click the item, look at the silhouette, and thank the developers for including such a wonderful feature in a hidden object game.
Analysis: As far as hidden object games go, you'll be hard-pressed to find anything more impressive than Hidden Expedition: Amazon. The game features a solid object hunting experience with an unobtrusive storyline told as you play, cutting out any lengthy cutscenes and annoying interludes. Mini-games play a small but fun part of the game, and the overall design strikes that difficult balance of making the game easy to play without removing the difficulty. And most of the annoyances some casual gamers experience in hidden object games have been taken care of in this game.
Several small features found in most hidden object games have been left out or made obsolete in Hidden Expedition: Amazon, the most notable of which are click penalties and a timer. Instead of docking points or time for multiple miss-clicks, all that happens in Amazon is your cursor vanishes for a few seconds. Just enough incentive to hold back on the mouse button, but not enough to invoke frustration or that sinking feeling of failure.
Although some of the animations in Hidden Expedition: Amazon have slight traces of graininess around their edges, the presentation is otherwise gorgeous on all fronts. SomaTone Interactive Audio was responsible for the custom soundtrack, working with a live orchestra in Berlin, Germany, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. Take a minute to soak in the music and appreciate the labor and care that went into scoring the game.
Everything about Hidden Expedition: Amazon is almost perfectly crafted for an extraordinary hidden object experience. Tricky puzzles that make you think without sending you to the strategy guide, smartly hidden items that aren't covered to make them practically invisible, and an interface that works with you, not against. Hidden Expedition: Amazon is easily one of the best hidden object games around!