A Gypsy's Tale: The Tower of Secrets
A Gypsy's Tale: The Tower of Secrets is a fantasy-themed hidden object title from Amaranth Games, creator of Grimm's Hatchery and the Aveyond series of role playing games. You play the part of Reylin of Winderalth, a gypsy who has a strong sense of magic of both the good and wicked kinds. You are hired by a monk to locate a lost tower and rescue a girl within, but getting to that tower involves solving loads of puzzles and working your way through the maze-like landscape that surrounds the mysterious place.
A Gypsy's Tale borrows a few gameplay ideas from The Mystery of the Crystal Portal and the Treasure Seekers series, namely the "objects as containers" element. Most puzzles require you to use an item or two on a specific object. Use the shears to chop down the vines, place the amulet on the pedestal, etc. Before you can grab these key items, however, the game opens up a circular menu around the object. Each menu pictures several other objects you must find and place in the appropriate slot before you can add the key item to your inventory.
You'll need to do a bit of wandering to complete your tasks in this game, and as you progress, your exploration area will gradually increase. Most of what you need is nearby, you just have to switch scenes by clicking on the glowing white parts of the screen. In addition to locating and picking up key inventory items, you'll also gather crystals, tiny pieces of shiny currency that help complete your map (which becomes important as you open up more areas to explore) and also function as currency in the store you eventually find.
Analysis: Enchanting visuals are one of this game's strongest features, and you'll have to help yourself to a few staring sessions when you encounter animated characters in the game. The fantasy world feels surprisingly complete as you shuffle through its dark pieces of scenery, and Amaranth did a superb job weaving the story into the experience. This isn't a world created as an excuse to host a hidden object game, it's a hidden object game that takes place in this world.
A Gypsy's Tale: The Tower of Secrets features a lot of the famous "do this in this manner because I told you so" moments where you complete arbitrary objectives just because the game says you must. Strangely, though, you won't feel accosted, as somehow the storyline and setting make these seemingly pointless requirements feel right at home. Gather a bunch of birds so you can pick up a key? Why not?!
As with many hidden object games, you'll encounter your fair share of unfair items that are a little too well-disguised. Fortunately you aren't punished for misclicks, allowing you the freedom to run the cursor all over the screen, and the refilling hint timer is just as generous as it needs to be.
A Gypsy's Tale is a strong hidden object game filled with fantasy and wonder. It takes the genre one step closer to the role playing realm, putting an emphasis on exploration, story and content as opposed to adventure-style puzzles, and you'll appreciate the level of detail Amaranth Games went to to fill out this beautifully illustrated world.