If you're unfortunate enough to have the deserved nickname "Bluebeard", you'd better have a kickin' castle and a killer reputation to keep yourself from looking like a big lame-o. That's exactly the case with the antagonist in Bluebeard's Castle, a hidden object adventure release from Fanda Games. Focusing more on the adventure side of things, expect a full heaping of puzzles, unnerving settings, strange noises in the background, and ornate decorations that could use a serious tweaking from Dress My Nest.
You poor little protagonist, you. Your sister wasn't blessed with an overabundance of caution. It seems Clarice has gone off and married Count Bluebeard, the mysterious figure who lives in a creepy castle and has already had six wives, each of whom vanished under mysterious circumstances. Clarice was given full roam of Bluebeard's castle save one room. And, naturally, she ventured in to that room. Time to go check out this guy's mansion to see if you can rescue your sister before she, too, disappears!
Bluebeard's Castle is one of those precious hidden object hybrids that all but ditches the laundry list of item scenes in favor of exploration, inventory puzzles, and good old fashioned casual adventure gaming. Most of your time will be spent looking around the place, checking areas for bits and bobs you can collect and use to progress to new locales. Areas of interest are noted by a small sparkle, so it's easy to find what you need. Figuring out how to use it is the real puzzler.
While the main game is great and all, what really steals the show are the mini-games. Not only are they more numerous than your average casual adventure game, they're more creative, focusing on riddle-type puzzles as opposed to the standard battery of sliding tiles, jigsaws, and the like. You'll have to do some honest to Zeus thinking to solve a few of them, but if you get stuck, they're all skippable after a few moments. But, you know, try not to hit that button if you can help it!
Analysis: Newcomer Fanda Games didn't pull any tricks with its debut game, but Bluebeard's Castle doesn't suffer from a lack of attention. For the most part, it's a standard adventure/hidden object hybrid, featuring mini-games, puzzles, exploration, and a few hidden object areas here and there. Fortunately, its refusal to shine doesn't denote sloppy design, and from scene to scene you'll discover plenty of smart puzzles and interesting things to check out.
The only stumbling point with Bluebeard's Castle is on the technical side, and they're most likely quirks with the engine the game was built on. For some reason, loading screens appear just about every time you switch scenes. They only last a moment or two, but they're distracting and chop up the adventure, making it much less immersive.
The game doesn't ooze big-budget polish, but it's no poster child for the lackluster, either. Bluebeard's Castle is a solid, dependable hidden object adventure game that provides almost five hours of entertainment from beginning to end. The development team has a remarkable attention to detail, something you won't fail to notice once you enter Bluebeard's Castle on your own!