Sunday, August 7, 2011

DS: Murder in Venice

Murder in Venice is awesome!  Unless you're one of those hardcore players who wants everything to be the same dull color which makes some objects nearly impossible to find.  In that case, go play the other game from City Interactive, Vampire Moon: Mystery of The Hidden Sun.

The story is decent and the scenes look good.  What makes this game stand out, though, is the mix of puzzles and a new take on an old game.  Unlike some of the other games I've played, the puzzles are part of the story, show scenes from the story and have objects for you to find which are directly related to the story.  While some games have puzzles with story added as filler, Murder in Venice the story and the puzzles are essential to each other.

A lot of this style games have the maze with a timer puzzle.  This game has two mazes.  The second one, unfortunately, uses the same old recipe.  The first puzzle, however, puts you into a race against a moving gondola. In the middle of the game area, there is a city canal, bisected by bridges.  Top and bottom of the game area are taken up by two sections of the maze, joined together by the bridges.  Hardcore players may find this maze to be too simple though.  The second maze is more elaborate, though less visually appealing.

The story revolves around code boxes and you get to open each one.  To open each box, you play bejeweled.  However, each puzzle is slightly different and more difficult than the previous one.  Goals involve removing a certain amount of pieces of a specific color, of any color, removing locks by using a key or blowing them up, making a particular color piece drop down into a receptacle at the bottom of the screen, and more.  As you progress through the game, more powerups become available.  After you finish the game, in the minigames section, you can play through ten boards, which include the ones you played during the story.

At the beginning of the game, there is a mini puzzle which involves moving around potted plants to make a path to a ladder.  If that's your cup of tea, there are six more of these puzzles, with increasing difficulty, in the minigames section.

This game also includes the toke jigsaw puzzle.  Except, it's tetris.  This nefarious version of a jigsaw puzzle uses pieces which look like tetris pieces.  There are no corner pieces because none of the sides are rounded.  There's little to tell you which way a piece should be oriented.  And to add insult to injury, not only do you not know what the picture is supposed to look like, it's a two color line drawing of a map.  Frustrating, but interesting and definitely unique.

There's also a twist on the usual hidden object puzzle.  In addition to finding items, there are several scenes where you afterwards have to take pictures.  On the right side of the screen, there is a list of pictures you're supposed to match up to the main image.  This, ironically, is more difficult than finding specific items, as you're looking for some general area on the main image.

An extra you can unlock after finishing story mode is chess.  To unlock it, you must collect chess pieces, hidden in each of the main puzzles.  Unfortunately after playing through twice, I still can't find a red pawn.

This game includes unlockable awards.  One major annoyance is how to unlock two of them.  One award is given by getting the highest score in each hidden object puzzle and another for getting highest score in each minigame.  After completing each puzzle you get a score and a rating based on the score.  I assumed that getting a "perfect" rating meant highest score or high enough to count towards the award.  After getting a "perfect" in each hidden object puzzle and a score of at least 90,000, the award is still not unlocked.  Gave up on trying to unlock the award because the game doesn't tell you what the highest score actually is and if you reached it or not.  In two puzzles, managed to get a score of 92,600, yet no idea if that's the highest score or not.

Though hardcore hidden object players may not like this game, I very much enjoyed it and would recommend anyone who likes hidden object games to buy it.

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