Nelly and Tom are at it again! Yes, the kids from the original Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold have returned, and this time they're all grown up! Just like the original game, Treasure Seekers 2: The Enchanted Canvases a unique hybrid of adventure and hidden object gaming that makes use of context-sensitive actions rather than laundry lists of items to find. Add to that some much-improved visuals (which is saying a lot!) and you have another potential hit on your hands.
Nelly has just arrived home from Guatemala to find a letter from her brother, Tom. He has invited her to join him at a castle in Romania to solve a mystery, just like when they were kids. When she arrives at the castle, however, Tom has disappeared! The story of the siblings takes a backseat once Nelly arrives and begins to struggle through a series of enchanted paintings, solving problems for the inhabitants as she goes along. Fans of Azada: Ancient Magic will recognize this familiar set-up, but Treasure Seekers 2 goes a step further with more tasks and mini-puzzles to solve in each painting.
Artogon's context-sensitive interface, used in the original Treasure Seekers game as well as The Mystery of the Crystal Portal, is a welcome change to the hidden object/adventure genre, and it's extremely user-friendly. Your cursor changes shape when you move over a puzzle that can be solved. Click it and a circle pops up showing what items need to be collected to complete that task. Then, simply drag the needed items into the circles and before you know it, the puzzle is solved. In some areas you can work on different tasks at the same time, while other areas require you to complete one puzzle before you can move on to the next.
Both the cursor and the menu in Treasure Seekers 2 has been tweaked to show you which actions are possible over each hotspot, such as talking to characters, moving to a new screen, or interacting with an object. Contextual clues can also be gathered from speaking with the inhabitants of each painting, eliminating one of the major frustrations of Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold: finding yourself in a room with no clue where to begin.
Analysis: A great feature in Treasure Seekers 2: The Enchanted Canvases the ability to choose between casual and advanced modes, allowing both novice and experienced gamers to have a good time. The mini-games scattered throughout the scenarios are varied and a nice mix of fun and challenging. And don't worry if you get stuck, they can be skipped after a certain amount of time. Also, much of the clutter of the first game has been cleaned up so you can really get a good look at those luminous backgrounds.
There are no penalties for misclicks, just a little red "X" to let you know you're in the wrong place. Hints are unlimited and on a timer that refills quickly, especially in casual mode. Skipping puzzles works in much the same way. An additional bonus in casual mode are little clues that pop up and point you in the right direction if you've taken too long to begin a task.
Since Nelly and Tom are older, some of the original sense of wonder is gone from the game, but Treasure Seekers 2 makes up for it with a healthy amount of whimsy in each scenario. Meet a trapped ghost, a forlorn werewolf, a snarky vampire, and an impatient monk amongst many other characters. Add to that the gorgeous locations and the challenging puzzles and you have yourself a winner!