Dark Dimensions: Wax Beauty
Your continuing search for Dark Dimensions, places of such great emotional torment and anguish that they've psychically altered the landscape like the world's largest collection of The Cure memorabilia, leads you to Silvertown, ME. True to form, things are looking dark indeed when you are immediately beset upon by ghostly apparitions pleading for you to "save them from the wax" shortly after your arrival... and I don't think they're talking about a spa treatment. Dark Dimensions: Wax Beauty by Daily Magic Productions is a wonderfully creepy (and just a tad corny) hidden-object adventure that delivers a weird and wonderful experience with twice as many haunting, tortured living wax creations as you need for a sound night's sleep. Pleasant dreams!
As it turns out, at the rotten core of the whole thing are Luciana Costello and her brother, Sebastian. Luciana dreams of winning her town's beauty pageant and the accompanying scholarship as prize, but her jealous brother seems determined to stand in her way. But how do you get from a little sibling rivalry to a massive earthquake and a creeping shroud of sentient wax that appears to have taken over the town? I mean, I had some pretty epic disagreements with my brother and sister, but we never quite got to the "bitter evilness that condemns an entire village to unholy darkness" stage. Explore the town to uncover the truth behind the mystery, and the strange, sinister wax museum. Just click around to interact, and your cursor will change when you're over a place you can do something with. Find objects, solve puzzles and hidden-object scenes, and do your best to avoid getting immortalised in wax... it isn't as flattering as you might think.
Analysis: Dark Dimensions: Wax Beauty might just be the most hilariously over the top hidden-object horror adventures to date. I mean... they're always a little campy, but one of the first things you see in Wax Beauty, apart from a chasm of hands dismantling a bridge, is a freaking doom gate complete with flocks of bats that looks like it belongs outside of Modor, the Deep Roads, or maybe Shayol Ghul. It's glorious. Story-wise, while nothing that's ever going to climb the bestseller list alongside Stephen King, Wax Beauty at least manages to keep things interesting by pulling out a few unexpected twists and turns as you explore. The series has adopted the new fad of using actual people for their cutscenes, and for the most part, this works... all right despite some awkward pauses. The actual, physical actors tend to look the part and emote well enough, but it looks like their performances were recorded in another language, so the tone of voice and pauses the English voice-overs use don't always fit with what you see the actors emoting.
The hidden-object scenes tend to have a lot of mini "puzzles" in them, objects that can only be acquired by combining something onscreen. While this does provide a bit of extra lovely brainwork over simply staring at the screen, some of those combos can be a bit... odd, and the frequently dark or skewed perspectives rarely help. Fortunately, while the rest of the gameplay is only standard for an adventure game, it's still a lot of fun. Though it doesn't do anything revolutionary, Dark Dimensions: Wax Beauty still gets the most important thing done right; it entertains you. It's a beautiful game, and the moody, otherworldly locales are packed with tons of great detail that keeps you on your toes as you explore. If you want something really innovative or challenging then you might find Wax Beauty doesn't deliver enough of either category, but as a means to unwind and lose yourself for an evening it's a top-notch adventure for fans of drama and high camp horror. It is unfortunately somewhat on the short side, with an average playthrough potentially lasting between three to four hours. As always, try the demo before you buy, but if you're looking for a spooky, weird adventure, give this one a look. And then give any wax museums you might drive by in the future a pass.
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.