Secret on the Hill
Saboteurs on the River
Developer & Publisher: Hidden Ocean Games
Released: Secret on the Hill, June, 2020
Saboteurs on the River, October 29, 2020
Requirements: Minimum requirements, Window 7 and 500 MB of RAM
Hidden Ocean Games
A young woman with a penchant for global investigating, Marcella Moon has stepped out in two adventures so far. The first, Secret On The Hill, took her to Sligo in Ireland to investigate the disappearance of a famous writer. In the second, Saboteurs On The River, she finds herself in Red River Landing, Louisiana, in the middle of the gumbo festival and some serious sabotage. Whether she can get to the bottom of things is up to you.
The product of a one-woman indie game studio in San Diego, the games are modest outings, offering up about three hours in total of point and click adventuring. Visit the locations, talk to some other characters, find some things and solve a number of puzzles. Back and forth to learn more information will provide some ways forward, as will just searching locations again for newly appeared items.
Finding a limited number of items is necessary, more so in the second game, but having the item will cause it to be used when clicking in the right place. Only once (I think) did I have to actively use an inventory item, a strange machine producing even stranger noises. It was a rather silly puzzle, but not without its charm.
There is nothing new puzzling wise here, and they are by and large self-contained. Fit shapes to a pattern to repair a boat, sort out the seating chart based on the clues, fit a number of gems to a matrix in accordance with the rules. Beyond that, navigate your way through a swamp and find and collect some bullfrogs. Nothing terribly onerous, but each still requiring a solution.
The mosquito puzzle in the second game was the only annoying one (and I mean that both literally and figuratively) but if you give up, rather than try again, the puzzle skips. One other puzzle in that game did the same, and kudos to the maker for that aspect. I would have liked to have known that it would in fact skip, had I wanted to try again later, but now you know so proceed accordingly.
There is no spoken word, everything discussed being subtitled. As Marcella, you can often choose from a range of questions, and like many such games exhausting all queries is warranted. Some limited sound effects and various musical loops provide the sound scape.
Hotspots indicate something to do, and as far as I can recall there was only ever one action at a time. Look, speak or interact (take or use) where the ones available. You didn’t choose between what to do, rather you clicked and the action occurred.
Direction arrows will show where you can go from each location, being more fulsome when navigating the swamp. There are about half a dozen locations and characters in each game.
The games look as modest as they play, which is an observation not a criticism. The first episode took me a little under an hour, the second about twice that, and clearly built on the experience of making the first. Each is self-contained, so there is no need to play them in order. Save at will, and while a crocodile might eat you, you just get to try again!
The Marcella Moon games are what they are. Go in with your eyes open, and you may enjoy some gentle sleuthing.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB