Witches' Legacy: The Charleston Curse
You got 99 problems and a witch ain't one!... or, at least, that was true before Witches' Legacy: The Charleston Curse, a hidden-object adventure from EleFun Games. After a letter claiming that you're the sole living relative to an orphaned little girl arrives on your doorstep from her caretaker, you decide to set out and get to the bottom of things... one to be brained over the head and locked in an attic for your trouble. Escaping seems like a good idea, but you've already gotten yourself tangled up in a family with one very dangerous past, and if you want to get out alive, you'll have to solve the mysteries of the house and your heritage, and tangle with one seriously nasty old crone to boot. Witches, man.
While ultimately your goal is to get out of the house de-witched (which is kind of like being de-loused, but with more cackling), you'd be a pretty bad person if you didn't at least try to find and rescue Lynn, the little girl, as well. Of course, this isn't your typical house; it's packed full of all manner of strange and unearthly obstacles, from petulant doorknobs with colds to the hungry living darkness that resides under the stairs. As you explore, gathering items and solving hidden-object scenes, you'll also discover that Lynn has a rather unique talent; the drawings she leaves behind are magical, and will begin to animate and reveal to you a little more of the story once you have a few pieces.
Analysis: Witches' Legacy: The Charleston Curse is that rare sort of game that can have you simultaneously chuckling and intrigued from the get-go. Through a combination of multiple different visual animation styles and an appealing sense of dramatic flair, which mostly works although the full motion video actors can look somewhat out of place, it manages to pull you into its cheesy twisted fairy-tale-esque story and keep you engaged. The story and gameplay move along at a brisk pace, rarely leaving you to feel like you're shuffling around aimlessly, and continually tosses you little cutscenes and Lynn's magical drawings to keep you interested. Since most hidden-object games take a lazier approach to engaging the player, leaving you feeling like you're taking a household tour with Ben Stein who stops periodically to make you sort through his boxes of "Garage Sale Treasures", Witches' Legacy winds up feeling a lot more interesting.
The gameplay is a bit of a mixed bag, in that while none of it is bad, the lion's share of the puzzles are going to be exceedingly familiar to anyone who's ever played a few games in the genre. You'll encounter the usual adventure game frustrations of being able to use only one specific item in any given situation when you have eight that could do the job just as well, but Witches' Legacy at least tries to keep you entertained while you hunt around. The environments are gorgeous, and packed full of witchy details that makes it worth spending a little time admiring each one. The hidden-object scenes are by and large clear and well done, and the little mini-puzzles in each one required to find specific "hidden" items help keep them interesting. Well, as interesting as they can be once you know you've already found the specific item you were rooting through all this junk for but they force you to complete it anyway. The game does lean somewhat more towards traditional adventure gameplay, however, so those of you who prefer your games to not bury you under an avalanche of hidden-object scenes will probably be pleased.
While Witches' Legacy: The Charleston Curse is far from what you'd call serious or earth-shattering, it is a beautiful, colourful, and creative campy good time. It's exactly the sort of well-made and just plain fun game you can use to relax in the evening. It's popcorn gaming at its finest, shameless B movie indulgence, and if that sounds good to you, then you'll definitely want to check out the demo. At around four hours or longer to complete, it might not be the lengthiest title around, but for me, speaking as someone who tends to burn out on sheer volume of hidden-object adventures we see, this was definitely one of the most enjoyable titles to cross my plate in a long time. Give the demo a try and see if you don't enjoy all the quality and creativity this one has to offer.
A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.