Dead Reckoning: Silvermoon Isle
Step aside, Hercule Poirot, there's a new kid in town. And this one solves crimes without a fancy waxed moustache, so take that, you pompous Belgian snoop! (Disclaimer: the author of this article actually thinks Poirot is awesome) Now get your trench coat and your fedora, detective, we have a case to crack! In Eipix's newest hidden-object adventure, Dead Reckoning: Silvermoon Isle, our victim du jour is Veronica West, your stereotypically perfect red-dress-blonde-hair Hollywood star. She was having herself a little birthday party on a secluded island when things took a sinister turn and the dame took a tumble from the top of the lighthouse. I guess birthdays just bring some people down. I'm terrible at puns. All the suspects are still on the island, and there is a huge mansion to be combed through. You've got your work cut out for you, detective. And put that swimsuit back, there ain't no time for sunbathing.
What we have here is a genuine, old-school whodunnit, and with it come some interesting features to make you feel like a true sleuth. First, you've got your seasoned powers of deduction: every time you talk to a potential suspect, you'll be able to determine whether they're telling the truth by looking for clues on their faces or clothes. Sure, it's scripted and the game doesn't let you continue until you've found all the clues, but it still makes you feel a bit Sherlock Holmes-y, and that's pretty sweet. You also have your camera, which takes pictures of particularly interesting scenes which you can then examine for evidence. Since the photos are sepia-toned, hunting for smallish signs of struggle or a few shards of broken glass can be tricky, but in a good way. If you aren't a fan of CSI, don't worry – the game doesn't overuse either of the mechanics, so there's no fear of them hogging the gameplay. Speaking of which, the only flaw in the gameplay is the fact that the hidden-object scenes and puzzles are quite easy. There is a fine line between frustrating and enjoyable hidden-object scenes, but Eipix seems to solve that problem by almost eliminating the challenge altogether, though they did try to keep things interesting by incorporating various types of scenes. The puzzles aren't very innovative, but they fit in the setting and they are pleasant in a truly casual way.
If I had to pick only one reason to try this game, it would be the visuals. Since it takes place on a small island, the choice of locations is limited, so you'll spend most of your time traipsing through Miss West's mansion. And what a mansion it is... Room after room of sleek sofas, vintage electronics and fancy nick-knacks. If you happen to have a soft spot for art deco, you're in for a treat. The detailing is so delightful that you must stop and stare lovingly at each scene before exploring it. I dare you to look at the chandelier in the salon and tell me it doesn't make you want to be a better person. The number of rooms becomes a little overwhelming as you open door after door, but they are all different enough from one another, so you won't be getting lost. The lovely locations are a perfect backdrop for a detective story and the whole thing is certainly reminiscent of Agatha Christie. Unlike Mrs Christie's books, though, Silvermoon Isle stumbles into the soap opera territory in its second half. The plot gets a tad too convoluted for its own good, if only because it tries to keep things interesting by throwing you off the scent a few times. Overall, however, this game is just too good to pass up. You've got your stunning graphics, interesting characters, great voice-overs and an intriguing glamorous murder mystery all wrapped up in a hidden-object adventure with a pretty bow on top. And I'll take any excuse to whip out my makeshift badge and practice the "Thanks, guys, I'll take it from here" line in front of the mirror.
Note: Currently, only the Collector's Edition is 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.