Robin's Quest: A Legend Born
Built like an adventure game from the ground up, Robin's Quest: A Legend Born is a cure for the common hidden object game. The gorgeous release from Gogii Games puts you in the now-feminine shoes of Robin Hood as she escapes prison and starts doing what the legend is famous for: taking money from the rich Prince John and giving it back to the people!
Robin's Quest has a unique structure that differs from most casual games. For starters, you don't follow the hero from point A to point B. Instead, you have a great amount of freedom to explore areas on your own, solving puzzles and completing scenes in whatever order you like. You receive meta-quests that continue as you move around, things like finding pieces of Friar Tuck's pardon letter. The papers can be found in several of the scenes early on, you just have to keep it in mind to watch for them. You're also hunting for wanted posters of yourself, collecting them and ripping them to shreds so the guards can't recognize you.
Hidden object scenes make an appearance in this adventure, but they're more of an afterthought and sit alongside a host of other well-integrated mini-games. In each one you're presented with several columns of item "cards", the top ones being the only ones visible. Find the listed item and that card vanishes, turning the next card on its face. When the scene is complete, you'll often keep several of the items in your inventory to use for later.
When it comes down to it, Robin's Quest: A Legend Born is all about gathering inventory items to complete puzzles throughout the game. You'll do a lot of exploring and a lot of backtracking, but that's what gives the game such a grand scope. More than once you'll encounter a blocked doorway, sealed hatch, or secret area you need a specific item to access. When you do, it's back to previous areas to do some more exploration.
Analysis: Robin's Quest: A Legend Born is a very organic experience. While many games feel like they could have been churned out of a factory, this one comes across as a natural extension of telling an interactive story. You need to make it to the fields beyond town, and the baker's shop has a back door. To get through the gate, though, you need to distract the guards. Fortunately you overhear one of them talking about pie, so naturally you find the ingredients and set one in a nearby windowsill. The entire process is fun to complete and a joy to experience, something a game stamped out of a genre mold couldn't accomplish.
Robin's Quest not only plays smooth, it looks luscious as well. The countryside of 15th century England is flush with warm light and soft featured, buildings and people colored with smooth lines and gentle tones. You just want to jump in and wrap yourself in it like a fuzzy blanket.
Another aspect of Robin's Quest that makes it unique are special abilities earned when members of the Merry Men join your quest. Friar Tuck, for example, is tops at negotiation and can talk otherwise uncooperative non-player characters into helping you out. When you can use a special ability, a small menu will appear on the screen, allowing you to choose which skill to unleash. And yes, Robin's bow and arrow prowess is a special ability!
A unique design produces an original game that stands far out in front of the pack of genre clones. Robin's Quest: A Legend Born is grand storytelling and creative gaming wrapped into one irresistible package.