Love Story: The Beach Cottage
What would you be willing to do to recapture your first true love? You'll get to explore the answers to that question in Media Art's Love Story: The Beach Cottage, the second adventure/hidden object hybrid game in the Love Story series that grabs the hopeless romantic in all of us and takes us on a journey that may (or may not) give us the "happily ever after" we're looking for.
Sandra Walsh receives a letter from her father (who recently passed away), asking her to visit their family's beach cottage one last time before she sells it. She reluctantly does so, and we go along for the ride. Through flashbacks, we learn of Sandra's history with the cottage and explore her reluctance to return caused by bittersweet memories of a childhood love both found and lost on the rocky shore.
Love Story: The Beach Cottage has casual and expert modes, changing cursors to indicate navigable areas and places of interest, and sparklies to indicate hidden object scenes, collectible items, and mini-games. The inventory does more than just show an empty set of boxes where you can stuff items. Instead, you're treated to a view of tasks you need to complete in order to progress. And rather than the usual notebook/journal to track important plot points, Love Story: Beach Cottage includes a charming "memory chest" in which certain objects that relate to the central love story are placed. There's also a nice variety of puzzles and mini-games scattered throughout, all of which are skippable without penalty.
Analysis: Love Story: Beach Cottage is a romantic whirlwind which captures haunting memories of childhood, love, and loss, all within the realm of a highly engrossing hidden object game. It's not exactly the pinnacle of action and adventure, but it does spin a timeless love story that will appeal to the hidden romantic buried deep within the most cynical of souls.
As pretty as the most scenic postcard ever produced, the backgrounds and objects of Love Story: Beach Cottage astound with their breathtaking clarity and color. Appropriately, the music is soft and haunting, and the incidental sounds recreate the experience of being next to the deep blue sea. Combined, it transports the gamer into Sandie's world, both past and present. The hidden object scenes are a nice combination of classic, interactive, pairing, and multiple items. The puzzles and mini-games familiar but with a nice twist and cover a wide range of difficulty.
What makes Love Story: Beach Cottage stand out is the balance between adventure, story, hidden object finding, and puzzles. The difficulty levels even in advanced mode are still not as difficult as they could be, making this more of an adventure for the beginning-to-intermediate crowd. A few minor problems with clickable areas being too close together can be slightly irritating as well.
Love Story: Beach Cottage is a perfect game for a rainy (or snowy) Saturday afternoon that will appeal to anyone who appreciates a good love story. Will Sandie get that happy ending? Journey to the beach cottage and find out!