Mystery Mania is not an easy game to describe. Or rather, it’s not easy to describe the experience of playing it. So first of all, let's just say that Mystery Mania is the answer to a question many of you mobile gamers will have been asking: what are those bright sparks behind SolaRola up to nowadays?
Mystery Mania is the first fruitage of a marriage between the guys from Progressive Media and all-round video-gaming giants EA, and it’s shaping up to be something rather unique.
You take control of a robot named F8 (see what they did there?) as you work your way through a spooky mansion, attempting to uncover its secrets.
When I say “take control of”, it’s only in a very loose sense. Each of the mansion’s rooms is a self-contained puzzle, which needs to be solved by clicking on the various elements found within. Manoeuvre the on-screen pointer over an iron bar across the room from F8, for example, and he will wander over and pick it up.
In fact, Mystery Mania plays rather like a classic point ‘n’ click adventure. The crucial difference is that this is built from the ground up to be an inclusive, accessible and very mobile experience.
As such, there are no fiddly inventories to manage, no menus to navigate and you won’t need a photographic memory to remember an earlier link in a sprawling puzzle-chain. Everything you need to solve each logic-based puzzle is there in front of you.
In my brief time with the game I’ve encountered door-blocking lasers (hint: there’s a mirror on the wall and the aforementioned pipe on the floor) and a strange chemistry experiment that requires a certain mixture of ingredients to… well, one spoiler is quite enough for a preview.
Suffice to say that they’re all logical and incredibly simple from the off. Just how ingenious they become later on is a crucial question, and one to be answered in our review.
We’ll move instead to aesthetic matters, because Mystery Mania really is looking quite spectacular. Utilising vector graphics to form a clean, vibrant style, its visuals are unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile.
Its closest stylistic reference point (and one we spotted during a recent EA presentation) is the crazy day-glo world of the Katamari series.
There’s plenty more we could discuss based purely on the few levels we’ve seen, but we’ll save that for our review in the not-too-distant future. Suffice to say that Mystery Mania is most definitely a game you should be keeping an eye on.