With scant evidence consisting of scurrilous accusations and false testimony, the women tried by the Puritan courts of colonial Massachusetts were dealt a grave injustice.
The case against Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials is fairer, but equally as damning. Stunning visuals, clever gameplay, and an interesting story come together for a spellbinding adventure.
This is a game that does great justice to both the genre and the device - a bewitching combination of hidden object and adventure elements that finds an ideal home on iPad.Developing old ground
Your colonial adventure begins with a visit from the ghost of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Eager to tap your skills as a supernatural problem-solver, he pleads for resolution in the matter of his cursed death. By searching for clues and piecing together the Hawthorne's history, as well as those of his ancestors, you're able to solve the mystery of his untimely demise.
Finding clues often does require completing static hidden object scenes, yet what makes Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials so engaging is the masterful way in which it embeds these scenes in a larger adventure. Beyond giving context to such scenes and the objects found within, you're asked to use objects collected from one scene in another. It represents a departure from pure hidden object gameplay.Guilty as charged
Rather than presenting you with a series of static screens filled with assorted knick-knacks, you actively engage environments as you would an adventure game. For example, keys are needed to open locked doors, items must be combined in order to create new objects necessary for critical tasks, and chatting with characters is essential for plotting next steps.
While the hybridisation of hidden object and adventure gaming conventions isn't new, it's executed with a level of sophistication previously unseen. The game's extraordinary polish reflects a confidence by designer John Newcomer that masks the difficulty in crafting a game in a genre that is often derided as boring and behind-the-times.
Newcomer understands this and drives you to a different conclusion with intriguing scenarios, challenging puzzles, and by waving shiny graphics in your face.Beyond a reasonable doubt
Common genre fouls are avoided with clever solutions. Rarely do you even get stuck thanks to a hint system that advances a puzzle if you're stumped or provides a clue as to the location of a key object. Reasonable restrictions on exploration prevent you from straying from objectives and confusing yourself as to what needs to be found or done.
There are minor problems that deserve mention. Near the end of the game, a few situations are tough to solve because the manner by which objects need to be combined is unexpected.
Also, the small text used for dialogue options at the bottom of the screen is such that you can accidentally end a conversation because your finger hits the "Goodbye" option instead of the text above.
These are trivial flaws worth tolerating when you consider the grand design. Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials exemplifies the best of adventure and hidden object gaming, while at the same time fully embracing iPad with intuitive touch controls and gorgeous visuals.
By order of the court of public opinion, let there be a sequel.