Ratty and Mole were childhood friends of mine, and there is an almost
childlike appeal about the rats and the moles in City of Secrets.
That is where any similarities begin and end between the tales, although I
may have spotted a willow.
rather tails) are prominent, one in particular, and the rats in the ranks
must be unmasked. It will take a person of considerable fortitude and
character to penetrate those ranks; a mole if you will.
Enter said mole (known to his
friends as Moles), via the hole in the basement floor. He's in search, not
of rats, but of his dog friend Rex, who has fallen through said hole. What
lies beneath is a dump and Alfredo, wet at the moment, is full of useful
information once you stop the deluge. It appears Rex has been taken by
revolutionary guards to the prison in the city of Poco Pane, sweet potato
capital of the great Republic of Molo Digos.
Very soon you will be sucked into
the machine that is the bureaucracy, needing forms to get forms from
windows that aren’t where they are supposed to be. Onions, beetroots and
cheese will all figure, as well as three screws and a vaccination.
There is a lot of fetching and
scrounging, but all done with a jolly air and by a relentlessly amicable
Moles. A pragmatic sort of chap, a little scruffy, now and then gruff,
with a down-to-earth British accent. A mole to be reckoned with, he would
be played by Ray Winstone in the movie version.
You get to play Rex in two places,
and he has an important role to play in things ending the way they do. He
also gets to build the Trojan Elephant, and to be swallowed by, and then
navigate through, a large snake.
There are five chapters in all,
and in retrospect the early ones seemed to have more to do, and lasted
longer. There is a similarity about some of the goings-on across the
chapters, but the settings and the characters keep things on the upside.
It’s a well written game, and is generally well voiced, although Moles is
certainly the highpoint.
As you would expect these days,
City of Secrets is vibrantly drawn and richly detailed. It has odd
angles and shapes to its buildings, and the somewhat offbeat look suits
some of the offbeat happenings. The moles shamble about (they reminded me
a bit of Wombles), and an excellent and varied musical score adds to the
Parts of the story are narrated,
and said narrator spends some of the time talking directly to you. The
humour in the game is rather droll, which I rather liked (how can you not
like a droll mole?). Perhaps it tried too hard at times, and less might
have been more, but I wryly enjoyed most of the dialogue.
The puzzling was sometimes
puzzling, as inventory based games often are. There are some very odd
solves indeed, and some very lengthy solves (that is, you have to find an
awful lot of items), but most items are not too difficult to locate. If
need be, you can reveal hotspots. However, if you have chosen to play with
hints turned on, this also pops up a hint, which is more aptly described
as the next bit of a walkthrough. As you might have wanted the hotspots in
the scene, not the answer to what to do next, I suggest you play with
hints off and use MaG's excellent walkthrough when you decide you need it.
As well as finding and using
inventory items, there are some single screen or side-scrolling tasks,
such as working your way through the snake, collecting beetroots in the
underground tunnels, or sorting the garbage. There will be trial and error
involved in these, and the garbage sorting is mildly “actiony”, as you
move the cart around the bottom of the screen to catch the items falling
from the conveyor belts. So too is avoiding the rat guard while trying to
rescue the kidnapped king, although you can plot his movements, after
which his meanderings are nuisance value only. A couple of puzzles involve
maze-like elements (enter this door, come out that door over there) and
there is a nine square slider.
There is a degree of random
conversation to get the right trigger, but on the whole I tended to know
where to go next. Played in third person point and click, a map will help
you move between locations, and a notebook keeps track of your tasks.
These are accessed from some colourful lightbulbs at the bottom of the
screen, and the notebook bulb will glow when a new task is added. The
early scenes include a bit of a tutorial to help newbies settle in, and
the game rather relentlessly autosaves. You can manually save as well. You
can toggle the inventory, or click the valve top left, and items will
appear along the top of the screen.
Originally designed for the iPhone
and virtually given away, all five chapters of City of Secrets come
to the PC for a modest price, and it’s hard to argue you don’t get value
for your money. This game will suit all level of players, especially those
with a fondness for beetroot.
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz
Ram: 4.00GB DDR2 400MHz
Gx card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512Mb
City of Secrets
is available via download from
The Adventure Shop.
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