In GrandMA Studios' hidden-object adventure Whispered Secrets: Everburning Candle, asylums continue to prove that they are a lightning rod for supernatural activity and shady dealings in pop culture. The one in your town has just gone up in flames that can't be quenched by water, which is a pretty good indication that you're dealing with something weird even before the giant fist of flames starts smacking the firemen around. It's up to you to figure out the source of this supernatural, fiery fury before the blaze reaches the town, and what do you want to bet there's some sort of shadowy secret behind the asylum? With an interactive quick-travel map, Dark and Distressing Secrets(tm), optional match-3 minigames if you prefer instead of hidden-object scenes, and a serious amount of eye candy, Whispered Secrets: Burning Candle is a creepy but lovely casual adventure that might be a bit predictable, but still makes for an engrossing game.
It's good to be bad in Amaranth Games' very funny casual RPG Aveyond 4: Shadow of the Mist, where you play the wicked Boyle Wolfbane, whose plans for world domination... don't go so well. Three years after being soundly defeated by a group of sniveling heroes, Boyle and his loyal storm wolf Fang are sullenly scraping by in a dingy little shack in the monster town of Wyrmwood, and looking down on all the other has-been retired villains. But while Boyle might consider himself above it all, when he gets roped into something threatening the world (and the safety of his beloved pooch), Boyle's got to roll up his sleeves and undertake some heroism, or as he calls it, the "H word"... whether he likes it or not. Aveyond 4: Shadow of the Mist is a wonderfully funny and cheeky indie RPG that's positively perfect for anyone looking for something to kick back with.
Solitaire may be pretty simple, but PC owners and office workers throughout the world will always have a soft spot for it. And yet, sometimes you might want to spice things up a bit and play something fancier than your garden-variety card game. Introducing Legends of Solitaire: Curse of the Dragons, a fantasy solitaire game by The Revills Games. Dragons are on the loose, your kingdom is in danger, so hop on your mighty steed and shuffle some cards!
Despite having restrained its initial captivating weirdness in subsequent installments, Elephant Games' Mystery Trackers has always been a hidden-object adventure series that's near and dear to my heart. In Mystery Trackers: Paxton Creek Avenger, the villain comes with his own bishi-sparkles, so you know it's going to be at least a little pleasantly crazy. Turns out he's upset at you, or at least your organisation, and as he believes the Mystery Trackers have gone about unpoliced for too long, he's abducted the leader's daughter... well, I mean, what else did you expect a Phantom of the Opera knock-off bad guy to do? Much less one uses "rascals" as a vicious insult and who sounds like he's two steps away from shouting "TUNNEL SNAKES RULE" before vanishing into the night. Solve puzzles, use powerful theater spotlight bulbs in puny handheld flashlights, and complete hidden-object scenes as you track the so-called Avenger to foil his doubtless dastardly plot!
Do you like mahjong? Like... a lot? Then with nearly a thousand levels, Legendary Mahjong is fluttering its handkerchief coyly your way. Angry about being forgotten, the gods have set out to punish humankind, but luckily the "God of Unbridled Happiness" is going to help you restore their temples and avoid their sullen wrath. Legendary Mahjong is low on bells and whistles, but full to bursting with simply satisfying levels, different game modes, special tiles and more that will keep you busy for a long time.
"Long ago, in the Middle Ages," begins Elefun Games' hidden-object adventure Witches' Legacy: Awakening Darkness, a witch straight-up shanked another witch, because things were way more hardcore back then, and they didn't have time to wait for more than ten seconds into the opening cutscene to start murderin'. In present day, or at least as present day as 1995 gets, our hero Jack is visiting his mother and little sister for dinner, but arrives to find a garden gone wild and his sister possessed, though on the upset, technically this always makes him the good sibling just by default. Turns out Nikki's body has been commandeered by an ancient witch, who was murdered by her fellow spiteful apprentice, and it's up to Jack, and a transmogrified wannabe witch, to save Nikki and put a stop to things. With the option to play a memory matching game instead of hidden-object scenes, customiseable difficulty, and a whole slew of gorgeously bizarre locations, Witches' Legacy: Awakening Darkness is refreshingly magical and creative, though... not particularly easy to take seriously.
In Daily Magic Productions' hidden-object adventure Sable Maze: Soul Catcher, twenty years ago people went missing in the little town of Sullivan River, your brother being one of them. You've been having dreams of him "trying to tell you something" (pointing repeatedly at a big sign is actually pretty clear as far as Signs From Beyond go), and on the 20th anniversary of his disappearance, you've come back to town to fix up his memorial, though getting sucked into the Underworld probably wasn't on the itinerary. Either way, you've got nowhere else to go but forward, stumbling through an enormous maze in hopes of reaching the Tree of Life at the center, and hopefully finding your brother along the way. A mysterious but totally trustworthy stranger promises to help you, but an even mysterious-er stranger seems determined to thwart you at every turn. With stunning art design and top-notch production values all around, Sable Maze: Soul Catcher is one comely little adventure through strange lands, though chances are many will find it far too easy.
Ah, GameHouse's casual time-management Delicious series. How whimsical. How cheerful! Entrepreneur and restaurateur Emily is always working hard but having fun, like the time she built a new business while renovating her home, or went on a cruise, or planned her wedding. What lighthearted shenanigans will she get up to in Delicious: Emily's Hopes & Fears? Let's see... uhhh... hm. Seems Emily and her husband Patrick are having marital problems, while their little girl is... stricken by an incurable disease. Wow! Okay! Sounds... cheerful! But if you know Emily, you know she isn't going down without a fight, and she'll travel the world to find a cure for her baby girl with the best family and friends a woman could want at her back... and of course run a mean restaurant while she does it, too!
Ben and Elizabeth were a nice young couple who had a nasty car accident. The hidden-object adventure handbook says that one of them should wake up in some backwater town, while the other one goes missing, presumably kidnapped by a creature with vague supernatural powers. Well, this ain't that sort of game. Elizabeth dies. Ben keeps seeing her in his dreams which torture him, until, one night, a dream seeps into reality. He receives a ticket which takes him to an abandoned amusement park. Maybe he will meet his wife there? Could they somehow be together again? The Last Dream by Specialbit Studio is an unusual, surreal story of loss, grief, but also of bravery and perseverance as long as there's so much as a glimmer of hope.
[Note: Please be aware that this game contains themes of abuse and torture.]
It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again. There. Okay. Phew. It's out of my system, I swear. As Eipix Entertainment's hidden-object adventure Phantasmat: Behind the Mask opens, you've just arrived for a family reunion thrown by your estranged cousin Patrick, whose decision to have the party at the world's least inviting remote Gothic mansion, complete with cryptic warnings about "missing the main event", somehow fails to set off any warning bells whatsoever. Ditto the fact that the key to the place is describe as a "face in agony", and the whole place feels like it's set its soundtrack to Silent Hill, but hey, what do I know about foreshadowing. Once inside, you find yourself in odd company, with an assortment of eccentric relatives, each with their own specialty, but making awkward dinner conversation is the least of your worries when you suddenly find yourself trapped inside. All you want to do is get out, but someone has other plans for you, and it looks like this is one family tree you might want to cut yourself out of...
[Note: This game contains themes that may be upsetting to some. Please see my notes in the second paragraph for more information.]
"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved before." Sound familiar? The protagonist of hidden-object adventure Immortal Love: Letter from the Past by Friends 4 Games sure never wrapped his head around that concept... but to be fair, that quote was probably more for couples who discovered wild pizza topping incompatibilities than someone who wakes up imprisoned with their memories removed, so I guess I can forgive him for not moving on to bachelorhood after a good cry, an Adele CD, and some mint chocolate chip ice cream. See, turns out Jacques (you!) was deeply in love with Angelica, which was a problem since the wicked Count was of the "if I can't have her, no-one will" sort, and he shot her in front of you rather than let the two of you abscond. Two months later, with your memories cursed clean and awaiting execution in a cell, you're rescued on the eve of your execution by a strange masked man who tells you it's not too late to save her. But this isn't a simple story of your average jerk who can't take no for an answer. It's an unexpectedly twisted adventure with high action and some morbid leanings that will keep you guessing throughout.
In ERS Game Studios' creepy hidden-object adventure Haunted Legends: The Secret of Life, the quest to cure your incurable illness leads you to a house with a dark secret, as ramshackle manors overlooking dark medieval villages backlit by lightning frequently contain. See, if any healer can complete a totally not suspicious at all ritual at the house, they'll earn the Secret of Life. You're desperate, with only a week left to live according to doctors, and after four years spent traveling the world looking for a cure, you've finally come to your last chance. Too bad the house and its occupants have other plans for you and all who enter it...
NCR Games made some pretty brassy claims when they contacted me about their upcoming indie match-3 RPG Oafmatch, whose demo is currently free to download with hours of gameplay (and does NOT require Steam to install), and even though the full version is sitting in limbo pending Steam Greenlight success, I still wanted to check it out, especially since its demo has enough content for players to really dig in to. In it, you guide Knuckles the Oaf on his secret quest for Oaf kind, and help him gather "easily impressed, literate companions" along the way. Knuckles likes to fix problems with violence, and that means taking part in Puzzle Quest-style combat where you match three or more adjacent gems of the same colour to attack your foes and unleash special abilities. With a whimsical yet snarky tone and a few twists on a familiar formula, Oafmatch looks promising... with some caveats.
Even the Bah-Humbuggiest amoung us may find it hard to resist Elephant Games' very merry hidden-object adventure Christmas Stories: Puss in Boots, also available for iPad. On Christmas Eve you come home to find a stray kitten curled up on your front porch in the snow, and of course you can't resist taking him in. But later that night, you're awoken by a strange voice, and discover it's none other than the kitten himself, who you've named Simon, standing on his hind legs and talking to you. Seems by taking him in, you've proven yourself kindness personified, and as one of Santa's Helpers, Simon now knows you're who they need to help save Christmas. See, Christmas can't happen without the magical star on the North Pole's tree, and someone's stolen it. Someone... wearing boots. Hmmmmm. But why would anyone want to stop Christmas? Gosh, you don't suppose there's secretly a heart-wrenching motive behind it, do you? It's an adorable, sweet, and fun holiday adventure that makes up for low challenge with stunning production values and a relentless sense of spirit.
Business a flop? Just start up another! That's what happens when our heroine finds her little bookstore failing in The Revills Games' casual card game Chef Solitaire USA. She realizes her talent for cooking might help her turn a pretty penny, and now she's off across all the country. But instead of flipping flapjacks, you'll be flipping cards, as you strive for a perfect score across dozens and dozens of levels.
Good fortune (and fun!) will come to those who dig through the archives.