Some people don't need hidden object games. Being a scatter-brained individual, I play my own personal hidden object game whenever I leave the house as I desperately search for my keys, wallet, and phone against the time limit of the next bus.
Still, this type of game has a massive audience, which has grown further thanks to the popularity of touchscreen mobile gaming. Such an interface is ideal for act of snooping about for concealed items, and there’s no shortage of offerings to choose from on iOS and Android.
Romance of Rome is one such example. Like so many hidden object titles, it attempts to link the random nature of tapping on totally unconnected items to a well-intentioned storyline, but the fusion is anything but convincing.When in Rome
In this case, you play the role of a kind-hearted country boy named Marcus, who has big dreams of making his fortune in Rome.
Along the way he encounters distressed damsels, fiendish kidnappers, and kindly Roman citizens. The plot unfolds via fully-voiced comic-style cut-scenes, but the urge to skip them becomes almost unbearable after a few hours.
The object-finding portion of Romance of Rome follows the well-worn genre blueprint; you browse an exquisitely illustrated (but static) scene looking for a series of items. Some are easy to spot, while others are cunningly blended into the background.
So cunning is this concealment that some are virtually impossible to see, and you’ll find yourself resorting to the ‘hint’ option more than once. This slowly re-charges after use, and thereby removes the temptation to simply spam it until the scene is complete.Do as the Romans do
One welcome touch is the ability to use certain items in each scene to unlock secret objects.
For example, to find a lady’s stolen earrings you have to hurl a brick (which you collect earlier in the scene) at a naughty magpie.
In another location, you can only open a cupboard door once you've obtained the appropriate door handle. Many of these special items are gained in other scenes, which calls for you to switch between locations to complete each chapter fully.
In additional to finding objects, you’re also expected to spend cash in order to bring Marcus up to the standard of a Roman citizen. This element is interesting at first, but when you realise that you have to buy every item in the shop to move onto the next chapter it becomes obvious that it’s little more than a shallow collect-a-thon.
Romance of Rome boasts gorgeous visuals, but that is hardly unique within the hidden object genre. There’s also plenty of speech and ambient sound effects, but the quality is disappointingly low. Voices and sound effects exhibit a scratchy quality, and speech is often drowned out by over-excited birds chirping in the background.
If you consider yourself a fan of this style of game, there’s no reason to believe that you won’t have an absolute blast with Romance of Rome. While it doesn’t really improve on the countless hidden object games that have been and gone, it does at least offer the same degree of enjoyment - fleeting as that may be.