Grim Tales: The Legacy
A ghost, a wolf, a dark and isolated castle, and possibly even a werewolf? Looks like you've got your hands full in the latest hidden object adventure hybrid from Elephant Games, Grim Tales: The Legacy. A sequel to Grim Tales: The Bride, the story and setting are connected between the two games, only this time around, you're stalking through a castle while a peculiar wolf hunts you from the shadows.
You're off to your long-lost sister's son's christening, which naturally takes place in a remote castle in the middle of a dark and stormy night. You get into a little accident just outside of the residence, but you manage to pick your way indoors all the same. Only... something's not quite right. Namely, a giant wolf that destroys the bridge leading to the manor's entrance! To top it off, a ghost haunts the premises, the Gray family was apparently trying to hide a great secret, and you swear there's a werewolf stomping around, too. Time to do some investigating as you worm your way into the castle.
A mouse-driven game to the core, Grim Tales: The Legacy is structured in a similar manner to the previous Grim Tales game and shares quite a bit with other hidden object adventures on the market. One notable difference is the manner in which puzzles are spread out across a number of screens. Instead of giving you a small array of zones to explore, each containing a few items you'll need to solve puzzles blocking your progress, you have many more scenes to check out with twice as many puzzles to work through. Often, you'll need to leave interesting things behind until you get the item you need much further down the road, adding a bit of difficulty not present in other casual adventure games since you have to pay more attention and actually recall details down the road.
Mini-games are strewn about and stick to the main core of tile-swapping, broken picture arranging fare, and the hidden object scenes appear from time to time to give you a few extra items to horde in your inventory. You can also choose between three modes of play, allowing you to customize the amount of help you'll get in the form of fast-recharging hint/skip timers and "sparklies" that show you areas of interest.
Analysis: Grim Tales: The Legacy sticks a little closer to the market-established hidden object adventure hybrid formula than its predecessor, though the gameplay doesn't really suffer for the step back in originality. The plot takes its time revealing any details of substance, and when it does, you might struggle to piece facts together. The holes in the story are small enough that you can fill them in with your imagination, just as long as you keep it to creepy, wolf-and-ghost-related things (or clowns).
What Grim Tales: The Legacy gets right are the visuals, the quick-travel map, a longer than average length, and the hint system, which is surprisingly smart and always directs you to where you need to go. It favors puzzles and mood over story, which could be a pro or a con depending on your preferences, but apart from a few slight pauses when initiating an animated scene, everything plays out smooth and snappy, just the way it should be.
Even though the hidden object scenes are scarce, they're the weakest part of the game. The spooky-meets-hauntey atmosphere demands equally spooky items, not USB flash drives, hot dogs, toy police cars, and batteries. It's jarring to see oddities such as this littering a dark mansion where wolves stalk you from the shadows.
Another strong entry from Elephant Games, a studio with the knowhow and experience to pull off a satisfying hidden object adventure game. Despite a few storypoint omissions and a reliance upon well-used tropes, Grim Tales: The Legacy is a great ride from beginning to end!
A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains bonus content not found in the standard edition: additional gameplay, integrated 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.