Miss Teri Tale is the first installment in a planned series of mystery-themed hidden object games. In a delicate departure from the established formula, Miss Teri Tale takes on more of an adventure guise similar to the recently-released Cate West - The Vanishing Files. The subtle shift from object finding to crime solving lends a lighter focus to the experience, and the game's hip soundtrack, gorgeous scenery and slightly satiric tone complete a surprisingly polished and entertaining package.
You play the role of mystery/suspense author Teri Tale who leaves the big city in favor of small town bliss. Unfortunately, she can't find inspiration to begin her next novel and her publisher is getting antsy. Suddenly her neighbor's prize puppy, Jason, goes missing, and Ms. Tale jumps in to investigate. To top it off, a mysterious person is sending her e-mails threatening to blackmail her if she doesn't solve the crime. With inspiration practically pounding at her door, Teri sets to work looking for clues and evidence in her very own backyard.
Staying with the journalism theme, Miss Teri Tales uses notepads, maps and newspapers to convey all the information you need to find objects and progress the story. A small scratch pad lists items you need to find in each scene, narrowing your choices to just a few objects at once. While some find this limiting, I enjoyed not having a laundry list of items thrown in my face.
Your home base, Teri's office, serves as an information center and can be visited to find clovers that serve as in-game hints. The mystery blackmailer usually has some words of "encouragement" waiting on your computer, too. And what casual game would be complete without a few minigames? Miss Teri Tales integrates them into the story quite nicely, such as using clues to decipher a keypad code to gain entrance to a house.
Analysis: As you move through the story and environments in Miss Teri Tales, you'll quickly realize the atmosphere is vastly different than most hidden object games. The focus has shifted from finding items to telling an interesting story, and the locations and visuals naturally grow from the strong plot. Environments are almost photo-realistic and feature small, tasteful animations (such as a dripping sink or a ringing phone) that really bring the locales to life. You'll feel just like a snooping neighbor, without the unpleasant guilty aftertaste!
It's hard to find anything other than minor flaws with this game (such as the awkward delay between clicking items). Miss Teri Tales is a light and enjoyable hidden object/crime adventure experience that isn't afraid to tweak with conventions. And it gets just about everything right.