In Hetherdale, the new point-and-click adventure from the creators of Morningstar, you guide Heather Montrose, an aspiring scholar who receives a telegram from an esteemed professor who claims to have found, deep in Africa, proof of a legendary city... a legendary city everyone believed to be the concoction of an 18th century poet and madman.
Use your mouse to play the game and interact with the environment. Click on an area and Heather will walk to it, and click on an object with a text pop-up when you move your cursor over it and Heather will interact with it. Items in your inventory can be examined by clicking on the item, then on the magnifying glass icon, or simply by clicking one item on another to combine whenever possible. Shortly after you begin, you'll also acquire a map that allows you to instantly hop to any location you've previously visited. Handy, since Heather's walking speed is fairly slow. Faster, woman! There's adventure afoot! Don't forget to save frequently by opening the menu and choosing the option.
Analysis: I don't know about you, but I'm always up for a jungle expedition. Nothing like the constant humidity and constant threat of poisonous insects and virulent diseases and infections to get the heart pumping! Mmm! The choice of 3D rendered visuals here lets Hetherdale paint some very lush environments suited to the exotic locale, but the character models aren't what one might call realistic, and as such certain scenes lose some of their intensity due to the cartoonish looks of the cast and lack of voice acting. It also makes puzzle solving more difficult than it needs to be, since items don't stand out very well.
While it stands out from the pack of other point-and-click titles due to its quality, Hetherdale just isn't quite as immediately engaging as Red Herring's previous epic, Morningstar. It's slower to start, with a lot of time given over to reading the rather copious amount of text conversations between characters. However, there's an air of mystery present throughout the game that serves to drive the story forward. The narrative is also tighter and weaves an interesting story, even if you'll probably have figured out who the bad guys are early on, or at least have your suspicions.
But where the game flounders most is with its puzzles. Some of the solutions to obstacles are, frankly, a little silly. While the most frequent obstacle you'll encounter is simply finding everything you need since items are scattered everywhere, the solutions tend to be overly complicated with unnecessary steps. Thankfully, the map's instant travel helps take a lot of the sting out of backtracking whenever you realise you've missed an item, and areas tend to be small enough that searching them isn't difficult or time consuming.
Hetherdale really feels like it would have been a fantastic game with a different design, instead of just "good". If you don't mind its relatively sedate approach to its story, and are the sort of person who typically combs all areas for items, you'll probably have an easier time of it and will enjoy the hour or so of play the game offers. A solid point-and-click game, and worth a look for any fan of the genre, and mad poets in general.