Little Ghost Story
Trapped near an old mansion, car broken down and useless, old man saying spooky things, and a little ghost girl trying to convince you of her story. Nothing is quite what it seems in Spirit Seasons: Little Ghost Story, a hidden object adventure game from Tiki's Lab that utilizes some interesting puzzles, dynamic scenery, and a classic mystery setting of deceit.
As always, things start out innocent enough: asking an old man to use the telephone. But a few broken boards later you find yourself underneath the house, frantically searching for a way out. You begin to discover notes and clippings that mention Jacob and Agatha in various lights, filling in their history and deepening your suspicion of both characters at the same time. Agatha claims Jacob let her die, while Jacob maintains the ghost of Agatha has him trapped in the mansion. Can't we all just get along so we can get out of this creepy place?!
For the most part, Spirit Seasons sticks to hidden object scenes to keep you busy, though the bulk of the game takes place in an adventure-style puzzle solving setting. When a problem presents itself, you'll need to shift between a small handful of scenes, searching every corner for new items or new hidden object areas to explore. When you check list items off, you'll get some things added to your inventory that can be used to solve a puzzle. Slowly but surely, you'll clear each room and explore the mansion, seeking clues and looking for a way to get home.
Hidden object scenes usually contain a number of miniature scenes in the form of boxes, cabinets, and other containers. If you went with Casual Mode at the beginning of the game, you can see these areas sparkle, otherwise it's all up to your creative clicking skills to locate them. A hint flower at the bottom of the screen is always there to give you a nudge if you need it!
Analysis: Spirit Seasons feels like a very dynamic game, with lots of animation and frequent cutscenes that help fill in the transitions between scenes. Despite the unpolished look, 3D visuals in these cutscenes come across as realistic and immersive, providing a first-person view of things that ties in nicely with the usual hidden object set-up.
Mini-games are infrequent but interesting, and the first one you encounter is one of the more unique in the game: picking a lock with a paper clip. The rest are limited to connecting wires or solving puzzles to unlock doors. You can always skip mini-games if you like, a wise choice if you can't stand staring at another jigsaw puzzle!
Spirit Seasons does stumble in one area: writing. While the story itself is interesting enough, the dialogue is always clumsy and the word choice is questionable. It's jarring to see characters spit out sentences that make little sense. At least you can piece together the meaning without too much trouble.
Despite an awkward translation, Spirit Seasons: Little Ghost Story manages to provide a compelling hidden object experience filled with good puzzles, decent item finding scenes, and a story that will keep you motivated to learn more.