The Dreamless Castle
You awaken alone. You have no memory of who you are, or how you got to this magical castle. There are fairies ready to guide you, and goblins waiting to test you. Are you ready to find out the secrets of your past, and your ultimate destiny in the adventure game Awakening: The Dreamless Castle?
This game is the first in the adventure genre for Boomzap, makers of puzzle games like Hoyle Enchanted Puzzles. Using only the mouse, solve puzzles and mini-games while navigating through a magic castle, with the goal of collecting six magic runes and discovering who you are and why you've been asleep for a hundred years.
Although the game is being billed as an "adventure/hidden object" title, the hidden object part of the game is more like a recurring mini-game than the actual genre of the game. There are only five hidden object scenes in the entire game. That's a shame, because they're actually quite good. No pixel hunting, and the objects are rendered with the same fairy tale romanticism as the rest of the environments. Other mini-games include mahjong solitaire (called Goblinjong), Simon Says sequence, matching puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles. All puzzles and mini-games can be skipped, but you have to wait until the "skip" button charges before doing so.
Analysis: If you took in Sierra games while you were teething, you're going to find Awakening a bit on the easy side. The progression is mostly linear, it's rare that the use of an object is illogical, and you can't combine items in your inventory. If you pick up a shovel, you're going to dig with it, not tie a ribbon on it and use it in an interpretive dance to entertain a peeved minotaur. You're going to have a good idea of what kind of object will be used in each place, and if it isn't in your inventory, you just wait until you solve a puzzle and the game gives it to you.
Sometimes the linearity breaks logic a little. Is there any reason why the girl can't tie the rope to the pulley until you have the object that the rope will be attached to? And why do flowers and other pieces you need to collect often appear in the room only after you click on the puzzle that requires the pieces? If it were me, I'd be a bit frightened. Look around at ordinary garden scene; look down at box lid with missing tiles; think "Aha, I must find the tiles,"; look up and there are suddenly tiles everywhere, even though you've been in the room the whole time. I guess it's magic!
The art in the game is indeed beautiful, with a lush fantasy style. The fairies are especially lovely, and even the goblins are more endearing than ugly. The writing keeps to the same storybook mood, and in the cut-scenes, the voice actress sounds just like the fairy godmother you always wanted.
The game is on the short side. My completion time clocked in at almost two hours. However, beating the game unlocks Goblinjong to play anytime, and if you beat all of those levels you get some extra secrets. Mahjong solitaire fans will certainly consider that an added value.