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Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations #1140259
02/01/18 11:01 AM
02/01/18 11:01 AM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 36,349
near Yosemite in California
Marian Online content OP
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Marian  Online Content OP
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Sonic Boomer

Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 36,349
near Yosemite in California
Welcome to our new Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations thread! This will be a place where our forum members can post recommendations/reviews of games that they particularly enjoyed. It doesn't matter whether a game was released a week ago or five years ago, feel free to post about it here. Be they recent titles, well-known games released years ago, or what you consider to be a buried treasure that only a few people know about or even remember, all comments are welcome and appreciated. With the dizzying number of games available and new ones constantly being released, it's easy to overlook many worthwhile games in the process. Hopefully this thread will prove to be a valuable resource for casual gamers in search of good new games to play.

Any chit-chat/off-topic posts in this thread will be removed, as we would like to confine this topic strictly to reviews and recommendations.

Happy gaming! wave

Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1140267
02/01/18 12:32 PM
02/01/18 12:32 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
8dognight Offline
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deep south
Legacy Tales: Mercy of the Gallows:

From Youda, 2013

The artwork uses real historical settings, and the play is much like a regular adventure game. Mercy of the Gallows has a pleasingly retro look and was obviously made with lavish attention to historical detail. If you look at the nonscrolling credits page, you'll see a list of the four Netherlands locations incorporated into Mercy of the Gallows.

I don’t remember any undoable puzzles or puzzles requiring manual dexterity. The music is pleasant with a haunting quality. No horrible saturated blue, pink, lavender. A spirit light will lead you around at first. In game scrolls unroll to provide back story, but—huzzah—you don’t have to find stupid hidden items in the scrolls. You can turn off sparkles.

The items in HO screens are carefully chosen to harmoniously fit the atmosphere and are appropriate to the time of the story under investigation with some slight variations, for example, lovely old brass binoculars would not have been around until the 1850s and the mystery, which is the key to the story, is over a century older. That isn’t a true anachronism. Mercy of the Gallows is one of a tiny percentage of HOPAs with HO screens I enjoyed looking at.

The downside to the game is that to move forward, you must find gold coins in the environment, not in a separate screen, and a few of those coins are blooming hard to see. I had to use hints several times. This didn’t bother me because I usually dislike HOG tasks in any form although I like most of the separate HO screens in this particular game; however, I understand that some players have very high standards about ever hitting the hint button.

Agency of Anomalies: Cinderstone Orphanage This plays better on my laptop using the system cursor. The story here reminds me a little of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children." I should also mention that this game doesn't cover the entirety of my current laptop's screen no matter what settings I use. If a game is immersive enough, I have no trouble getting past that. The HO screens contain appropriate objects and are often interactive in various ways; screens repeat using those variations. I like solving puzzles where moving one item moves others in complex ways, for example, switch C might move switch E down while switch E moves itself up and switch A moves itself up two but only needs to go up one; Cinderstone Orphanage has a fairly difficult one that I solved the first time I played. If I can do it, it's far from too hard.

Break the Curse: Crimson Gems Some hard puzzles.

Christmas Stories: Nutcracker

From Elephant

The first time I played this, I had to make an effort at the beginning to roll along with the premise, helping Albert, who was turned into a nutcracker, and his fiance Mary, now a talking doll whose conversation is mostly limited to repeated cries for help, regain their humanity, stolen by the evil genius Rat King. No one is watching you; nobody will poke fun at your choice of game. Go ahead, cannonball into the fantasy. While the content is appropriate for children who might want this version read to them, some of the puzzles are the most challenging and visually pleasing I have played in any game. There are banners for various things in the more expensive edition. I don't recall if there are morphing items or collectibles because I did my best to ignore them. Other than that, Nutcracker is a stand-out casual with pleasant seasonal music.

9: Dark Side: The usual demonic forces have enveloped Prague and you must discover the secrets of an ancient fortress.

Dark Canvas: A Murder Exposed: This is an actual murder mystery and a pretty good game.

Death and Betrayal in Romania: A Dana Knightstone Novel: If you cannot stomach helpers, the presence of Bandit—a ghostly border collie wearing a red bandana—will be annoying. While I often loathe helpers, I kinda liked Bandit. I have no idea how or even if Bandit fits into the story. Like many border collies, Bandit is exceptionally springy and good at jumping to fetch you things. This game does not have those scrolls with clumsily drawn pictures and ostensible written exposition containing words which you must match to an item in the ugly drawing. The one place with such technique has an array of beautiful, setting appropriate objects on shelves in an armoire. Several of the puzzles are difficult.

Grim Tales: The Legacy

Grim Tales: The Vengeance

Inception of Darkness: Exorcist III: Skip the very first puzzle, a lock on a chest in a cart, then go on with the game. That first puzzle is not worth eating up all the time in the demo. If you like the game, buy it and continue on without starting over. After you finish the game, you can always create a new profile and try that puzzle as it only takes a few minutes to find. I’m only slightly better than average at difficult puzzles but I like them and seek them out; nevertheless, I’m fairly sure I would still be working on that chest puzzle years later even if armed with graph paper, screen shots, and sheer stubbornness. Other puzzles in the game are designed better.

Mystery Trackers: Black Isle: I think this one has HO screens that combine with the use of inventory items, a technique that takes some getting used to. Also skillfully done graphics and a pretty good story.

Mystery Trackers: Blackrow’s Secret

Mystery Trackers: Four Aces


Mystery Trackers: Raincliff’s Phantoms

Nightfall Mysteries: Black Heart


Nightfall Mysteries: Haunted by the Past

Riddles of Fate: Wild Hunt: Good graphics. I’ve replayed it a couple of times. Wish I didn’t remember it so well because that would make playing again more entertaining.

Witches’ Legacy: Charleston Curse



Last edited by 8dognight; 02/14/18 02:08 PM.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1140310
02/01/18 09:50 PM
02/01/18 09:50 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 39,632
southeast USA
Jenny100 Offline
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Sonic Boomer

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 39,632
southeast USA
Crystals of Time

Crystals of Time is a game I keep on my hard drive for when I'm tired of the excessive animations, visual effects, and pop-ups in modern games -- and I want to play an old-style hidden object game, but one that's a bit more than a succession of hidden object scenes held together by cut scenes.

You play as a female thief, breaking into a mansion to look for your missing father, also a thief. New locations open up as you progress in the game, starting with your arrival at the deserted house, to exploring the backyard garden and shore areas, and boating to an island with a ruined church and castle. Animations are subtle (a curtain blowing, the flicker of a torch), or even non-existent -- especially towards the end of the game.

Unfortunately if grammar and spelling mistakes bother you, this game was obviously not created by native English speakers and it shows.

According to http://www.rvlgames.com/index.html
"Crystals of Time" was released in December 2013, but it seems at least 2 years older. Normal and Hard modes -- on Normal mode it will occasionally "find" objects in the environment for you without your using the Hint. The game folder is a tiny 172 MB, and as you might expect for such a small folder size, there is no voice acting.

Unfortunately it is NOT a good game for puzzles -- it has very few -- and there is one puzzle I have to play windowed in order for the hotspots to line up with the numbers correctly.

I enjoy replaying "Crystals of Time" because it hits a sort of nostalgic sweet spot, straight hidden object lists, but with some exploration and without the annoying timers of earlier games.

Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Jenny100] #1140332
02/02/18 07:35 AM
02/02/18 07:35 AM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 29,138
United Kingdom
Mad Offline
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Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 29,138
United Kingdom
The Lost Cases of 221B Baker Street.

This is a pretty old Casual - so older graphics - and is made up of around 20 or so short cases for Sherlock and Watson to solve - one case at a time.
And I find a spare ten minutes or so can happily be filled by solving one.
[Whenever you break off, the game is saved so if you don't want to, you don't even have to complete ONE at any sitting.]

There is little animation but there are voices (and text) - and music of sorts.
And each case is comprised of a few hidden object type screens and an easy, visual memory test.

I had it permanently installed on my WinXP machine and it's now permanently installed and playing happily on my (current) Win7 machine.

This game is not a brain teaser. Just a nice relaxed way to pass some time.


Time : The Most Precious Commodity
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1141476
02/12/18 07:49 PM
02/12/18 07:49 PM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,285
Southern Exposure
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Southern Exposure
I would highly recommend Dire Grove . This game is as good as any adventure game I have ever played.


carol
It doesn't cost a dime to be kind
----------------------------
Currently playing The Moment Of Silence
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1141675
02/14/18 12:07 PM
02/14/18 12:07 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
8dognight Offline
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deep south
Solitaire

Regency Solitaire: I enjoyed the music and many of the period details. To progress, I had to hoard wild cards. I don't know how common that is in similar games because this is the first solitaire game that ever caught my attention sufficiently enough to buy.

There is a modest story with a twist at the end. I plan to keep this game installed.


Last edited by 8dognight; 02/21/18 01:31 PM.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: 8dognight] #1141812
02/15/18 01:59 PM
02/15/18 01:59 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 29,138
United Kingdom
Mad Offline
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Mad  Offline
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United Kingdom
An "oldie" match3 game I enjoy playing and would recommend and which is another permanent fixture on my machine, is Legend of Gallant.

It has a bit of a story to follow and is altogether good, mindless match3 fun !! laugh


Time : The Most Precious Commodity
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Mad] #1141823
02/15/18 03:16 PM
02/15/18 03:16 PM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 36,349
near Yosemite in California
Marian Online content OP
Global Moderator
Marian  Online Content OP
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Sonic Boomer

Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 36,349
near Yosemite in California
The Island: Castaway

This game was released on Big Fish in 2010.

This game is a blending of genres: strategy, adventure, and simulation. My overriding feeling while playing the game, though, was that of playing an adventure game - and there is definitely a storyline. Over the course of the game you will fulfill many quests. There is quite a large area to explore and it is longer than most of the other casual games I have played. I thought it was a great deal of fun and it still stands out in my mind, more than seven years later, as being one of the best games I have played on Big Fish.

At the end of 2011, a second game in this series was released: The Island: Castaway 2. Nearly everyone who played the first game and enjoyed it thought this second game was equally good. I recommend it for the same reasons that I recommend the original.

Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1142091
02/18/18 02:16 PM
02/18/18 02:16 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 29,138
United Kingdom
Mad Offline
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Mad  Offline
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United Kingdom
Another favourite Casual of mine, and one which I would absolutely recommend, is Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles.

[I originally bought it from Frogwares but it is at Big Fish now.]

A long and interesting version of the famous story with the good graphics and voice acting one would expect from a Frogwares game and a way of visiting the past which was novel at the time of the game's release thumbsup

Being guided by the list Jenny100 offers re this thread I have edited and added :

I didn't encounter any hugely difficult puzzles.
I don't remember there being any no pop-ups.
Nor do I remember any dexterity issues.
It is slightly gruesome in parts.

Last edited by Mad; 02/19/18 06:47 PM. Reason: Referring to list from Jenny100

Time : The Most Precious Commodity
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1142251
02/19/18 08:38 PM
02/19/18 08:38 PM
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 2,005
Orillia, Ontario, Canada
colpet Offline
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Orillia, Ontario, Canada
These are two games I recently played on my iPad. I purchaced them at the app store.
Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise
This game currently has 4 chapters released. When you buy the game, you get all 4 chapters, you don’t get them separately. You play as a secret agent working to thwart an enemy agent named Ruby. Chapters 1 and 2 take place in her hideout. Chapter 3 has you locked away in a devious series of traps, and chapter 4 has you trying to escape and stop Ruby carrying out her plans.
The game is in cartoon style, and has some over the top humour. There are a few cut scenes, and you play as a solitary first person explorer. There are a ton of puzzles, both inventory and not. Each Chapter is a self contained game. All you need is in the location, but there is a bit of back and forthing, especially in the bigger locations, like in Chapter 4. My favourite was Ruby’s Trap, Chapter 3. You have to check eveything to look for clues and investigate all corners of an area. The puzzles range from minigames to inventory, but quite a few had you thinking outside of the box. Apparently there is a Chapter 5 on the way.
The Secret of Chimera Lab
This was a full game. It took me about 5 or 6 hours to play. It has node based movement. You are called to investigate some unusual goings on at a laboratory. The game involves getting into the building and accessing the rooms, as well as snooping through computers and various notes to work out what was happening. This was a challenging game, but the in game notebook keeps track of everything you need. What I liked is that you get to use the knowledge and equipment as part of the puzzles. While there is some backtracking, the building is pretty compact, so it is not too bad. I was so impressed with this game, that I bought another one from the developer (Aircamp) called Adventure Beyond Time. There was some connection between the two with the story line, but there was no notebook, and you had to traipse all over an island. Interesting, but the puzzles were too spread out.

Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: colpet] #1142264
02/19/18 10:41 PM
02/19/18 10:41 PM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 36,349
near Yosemite in California
Marian Online content OP
Global Moderator
Marian  Online Content OP
Global Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 36,349
near Yosemite in California
Brink of Consciousness: The Lonely Hearts Murders

Developed by: Magic Indie

This game was released on Big Fish in November 2012. This was back in the days before achievements, pop-ups, and announcements, so there are none. No dexterity challenges that I can recall. This is a good detective story set in Victorian England. There is quite a bit of dialogue, which I personally enjoy, but I know that some players find this tiresome. It plays like an adventure game more than a HOG. There are some hidden object scenes but not a huge amount. There are also some good puzzles that I found fun to solve.

I purchased the Collector's Edition. One of the extras in the CE is an interview with the developer, which I found interesting and a welcome addition to the usual.

There are three levels of difficulty from which to choose.

I enjoyed the game very much and am replaying it right now - an oldie but a goodie.

Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1142669
02/23/18 10:15 AM
02/23/18 10:15 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
8dognight Offline
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Secrets of the Dark: Mystery of the Ancestral Estate

Developed by: Orneon

The premise here is switching environments from their ordinary appearances to their dark alter egos. You are called in to help the heir who is frightened by all the magic in the house emanating from the crypt. No sooner do you arrive than the crypt opens and the spirit of an evil grand uncle whisks her away, leaving you to solve a series of puzzles dazzling in their ingenuity and HOs, all carefully thought out and visually pleasing. One of the early HO screens, for example, is a series of steps like a door puzzle to put together animated miniatures of a hot air balloon, chariot, and cannon. This is a difficult game by casual standards in part because there is no map and the ancestral estate is a sprawling compound. I wish Orneon would make more like it.

Last edited by 8dognight; 05/24/18 08:44 AM.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1142671
02/23/18 10:54 AM
02/23/18 10:54 AM
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,003
SE Michigan
T
The Haze Offline
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SE Michigan
The newest The Room is, quite simply magnificent. It's gorgeous; lengthy for a casual game; and has a "Help" system that actually helps (If you like those things.) It's probably the best $5.00 puzzle game I've ever played.


If all the people were heroes, there would be no one to watch the parades.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1142768
02/24/18 12:56 PM
02/24/18 12:56 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
8dognight Offline
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deep south
Secrets of the Dark: The Flower of Shadow

From Orneon

A game has to have multiple redeeming features that I enjoy a lot for me to forgive a pink and lavender demon spewing pink and purple everywhere like that old Rolling Stones song "She Comes in Colors." I got past the irksome rainbow because Flower of Shadow has some excellent puzzles and also managed to trick me several times in terms of gameplay. The first time I played, I was lost because I skipped the introduction. Don't do it. Grit your teeth and endure the glowing pastel onslaught. Like the other Secrets of the Dark, Flower of Shadow does not play on full screen on my current laptop.

Last edited by 8dognight; 05/24/18 08:45 AM.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1142859
02/25/18 11:26 AM
02/25/18 11:26 AM
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 2,005
Orillia, Ontario, Canada
colpet Offline
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colpet  Offline
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Orillia, Ontario, Canada
These were played on my iPad and I purchased them at the App store.
The Secret of Raven Rock
This is an older game and plays like a typical casual adventure. At the beginning there was an unskippable tutorial and some sparkles to show you where the next spot was. But very shortly it changes into a pure puzzle delight, along the lines of the old PC game Pandora's Box. You enter a Temple full of straight up minigames - sliders, codes and riddles, with some inventory items. Clues are kept in a journal for you. There are 25 challenges to beat, most will gain you access to new parts of the temple. There was a particularly good flip tile slider I had never seen before. You also need to use the physics of a tablet to solve a few of the puzzles.
Return to Grisly Manor 2
This is a basic adventure casual(no HOGs). You return to your grandfather's house to help him find the original deed, so the evil developers won't bulldoze it down. There are all kinds of seek and find quests here, but what makes it interesting for me is that there is no hand holding. There aren't many mini games in this one, so the puzzles involve thinking about how to get what you need from what you have. Thinking outside the box is a must.

Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1144091
03/09/18 11:19 AM
03/09/18 11:19 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 39,632
southeast USA
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Jenny100  Offline
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Sonic Boomer

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 39,632
southeast USA
The Dark Hills of Cherai
The Dark Hills of Cherai: The Regal Scepter.

In The Dark Hills of Cherai, you play as three cousins, Tara, Rahul, and Maya, searching for your cousin Arjun, who has got himself in trouble searching for treasure and needs rescuing. You play the cousins separately, occasionally meeting to exchange inventory. Environments look like a real place -- a jungle with mountainous areas that may be somewhere in India. Hidden object scenes are mostly lists, usually with a puzzle integrated into the scene. You can teleport to locations you've previously visited.

In The Regal Scepter, you again play as Tara, Rahul, and Maya. This time you're searching for the "Regal Scepter" to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. There is more swapping inventory between characters than in the first game.

I described these two games more fully in ***this Gameboomers thread*** which is sort of an overview of these and other games developed by Chayowo Games.

Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1144504
03/13/18 06:51 AM
03/13/18 06:51 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
8dognight Offline
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deep south
Nightmare Adventures: Turning Thorn from Ghost Ship is one of the top ten casual games I have played out of hundreds I own. The graphics are crisp. Many objects when clicked yield a witty and intelligent remark that adds richness or back story even if the object is otherwise not in play. In addition, you can try to use objects inappropriately for a comment specific to that decision. Our character, Keira, point blank refused to use a baseball bat to break the windows in her own house; she later explained why several objects would not work as a lever with differing reasons specific to each choice. This is an admirable level of attention to detail from the writers at Ghost Ship Studios.

I like a challenge and the puzzles are challenging enough for me. The written in game notes are clear and often humorous. For example, a note early on from a repairman involving an elaborate reset a code to operate a phone that calls down to a secret facility includes the lament, “Next time we replace this, could we try—you know—a button?”

This is the second time I have played Turning Thorn, and I have gone back to a Windows 7 laptop to do so. The game is running well and without glitches.

Nightmare Adventures: Turning Thorn is a gem. I hope we will see a third addition to this series that shows the same skill. Turning Thorn puts the usual sloppy writing and slapdash graphics of ordinary casual games to shame.

Nightmare Adventures: Turning Thorn is a sequel to Nightmare Adventures: Witches' Prison, listed by Reenie below and also a delight.

Last edited by 8dognight; 05/24/18 08:33 AM.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: 8dognight] #1145456
03/20/18 03:39 PM
03/20/18 03:39 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 29,138
United Kingdom
Mad Offline
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United Kingdom
I just finished "Legacy Tales : Mercy of the Gallows" and thought it was one of the best Casuals I've played in a good while dance

A nice "adventure type" story to follow, excellent graphics and innovative puzzles to solve thumbsup

I highly recommend the game yes

Looking for more from this developer - Youda - I could only find straightforward HOG games (which don't appeal much to me) or arcade style games (which also don't appeal much to me).
So I am hoping that this Legacy Tales is only the first and that there will be more to follow smile


Time : The Most Precious Commodity
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1146371
03/28/18 10:09 PM
03/28/18 10:09 PM
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 821
SEYMOUR VICTORIA, MELBOURNE AU...
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SEYMOUR VICTORIA, MELBOURNE AU...
I've been mainly playing the Final Cut series, Starting on the Rite of Passage series and beginning of the Amaranthine Voyage series which I recommend them all.

All are very entertaining:) penguin

Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1146553
03/30/18 01:46 PM
03/30/18 01:46 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
8dognight Offline
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deep south
Portal of Evil: Stolen Runes

While this game contains some HOs, the play is much like a regular adventure game. The cut scenes reminded me of those in games like Longest Journey--I think Longest Journey--where live actors are blended with the background to produce a realistic look.

You are the grandchild of a Van (Von) Helsing. Your task is return runes stolen from a door beneath the Vatican that guards the gates of hell before all hell, in fact, breaks loose. To do this you acquire keys to enter portals into different realities containing the missing runes. The game is sightly. The puzzles are pleasing. The story moves along without a lot of BS. For example, if memory serves, not once did I have to sharpen a knife or ax before using it.

Edited to Add: If casual game developers had paid more attention to the visual and narrative excellence of this game, I think that we wouldn't be stuck with an infinity of mirrored kidnappings.

There is a transport map with active areas marked and unless you keep notes you will need it. HO screens are repeated but in different ways: find things in one version, put things back in another.

Also according to BFG reviews, you should buy the Collectors' Edition of this game to get the full story.

ETA again: Reenie just remarked elsewhere that the grandfather was kidnapped. Who knew? That must be the full story from the Collectors' Edition. I happily played the regular version with grandpa's disappearance as unexplained and the main character following in his footsteps to prevent prototypical Armageddon by restoring the seals.

Last edited by 8dognight; 04/08/18 09:25 AM.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1149910
05/02/18 10:26 AM
05/02/18 10:26 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
8dognight Offline
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deep south
Word Zen

From: Play at Joe's

This is a timed word game that is not geared downward. There are four levels, student, apprentice, master, and grandmaster, each with 20 or more unique boards that can be restarted with different letters. The boards distribute letters in different clumps on the screen which increases the difficulty of mentally combining them during play. You have to get a certain number of points to progress to the next board within the section. Letter points differ considerably from Scrabble. Word Zen words can be up to 11 letters long. Student and apprentice provided enough useful letters in close proximity to allow me to make quite long words and think I was a wiz. For example, I plunked down "compositions" and believed myself unstoppable. The master section has a couple of difficult configurations. The grandmaster by level three or so is a witch. I say "witch" because the game will not allow any words it deems off-color.

To enjoy this game I had to accept that its dictionary has more vagaries than the Scrabble Dictionary has or at least had back when I played death matches with my mother-in-law 30 years ago. For instance, I tried to play "canopic" and Word Zen would not take the final "c" so I quit and made sure I was spelling it right. I was. Maybe the game just gets sticky every now and then. Other times I have discovered that I am no longer the speller I once was. "Monocle" does not contain either an "a" or an "i."

Also I turned off the music.

The game has plenty of replayability given that you can create four profiles, then delete and start new ones. Also, once a level is finished, you can freelance within it and choose boards.

I wish a better single player word game with the possibility of words longer than 11 letters, a more comprehensive dictionary, and the ability to play with various timers from more to less forgiving would come out.

ETA: After finishing the final level with all four profiles, "Word Zen" stopped letting me freelance within levels or create new profiles, so I uninstalled, reinstalled, and am starting over with new profiles. I don't mind this because the self-imposed point for me is to win with words I have not used before in the game.

The initial loading is a hair slow.

Last edited by 8dognight; 06/28/18 10:39 AM.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1150818
05/12/18 12:16 PM
05/12/18 12:16 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
8dognight Offline
Settled Boomer
8dognight  Offline
Settled Boomer

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
Macabre Mysteries: Curse of the Nightingale

Blue Tea, 2011

Most people who play these games already know that Curse of the Nightingale, apparently a stand alone as I could not find any others available in a Macabre Mysteries series although there may have been some, is a great game. The plot doesn't revolve around a kidnapping. The graphics are pleasing, particularly in the HO screens. At some point, Blue Tea went a hair blurry in the overall look of some of the games, although I hasten to add that those games are usually well above average, too.

One particularly useful facet of Curse of the Nightingale is the diary/journal which contains a map and cast of characters with blurbs about them that are fleshed out as the game progresses. The map is also a minor hint system (it's easy to get a bit lost in the theater) but not one that overpowers exploration. The same is true with objectives; they're in the journal but you don't have to consult them. For inventory hints, I discovered this time around that I could place an object over the eye on the extreme left of the inventory bar and get a close-up of where to use it. I should mention I usually skip tutorials even when I could have used one later.

I normally avoid playing games set entirely within a theater because they feel too confined. Not this one.

HO screens give off a slightly out of focus bubbly quaver to alert the player, and sometimes a spark or two rises from other hotspots. But this is a wonderful game, so those visual cues are forgivable. There were two inventory items I wouldn't have found otherwise although in my defense I am less observant when developers hold my hand than when they don't.

Steven Xhao was the main creative force behind this game. From cursory googling I gather he is now making VR games. It's almost enough to prod me into investigating them.

To get a 2018 HOPA as immersive as Nightingale, I would pay twice the price.

ETA: I noticed another good quality. After finishing the game, I started the bonus game then closed out. When I returned, I carelessly clicked on the main game which started up again from the beginning. I thought, "Darn, now the bonus game will be chained up again." No, that didn't happen. Under the same profile, the bonus game remained open. Very thoughtful of Blue Tea.


Last edited by 8dognight; 05/23/18 05:44 AM.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1151520
05/19/18 06:08 PM
05/19/18 06:08 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
8dognight Offline
Settled Boomer
8dognight  Offline
Settled Boomer

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 773
deep south
Mystic Legacy: The Great Ring

from Foxy Games Studio, 2012

This is a tale of two vampire brothers, Shandor and Drago, who kidnap the friend of your player character. One of the vampire brothers is a vegetarian with an humanitarian streak; the other, a romantic gone wrong.

I had to untoggle both full screen and the custom cursor.

I should mention that your character will address himself or herself in the well written and useful journal by the name you enter at the start. If I had remembered that I would have called myself Von Helpful or something else in the vein of the tale.

In terms of player character comments along the way and in the journal, the writing is lighthearted and close to topflight. The setting is a stately home in rather good repair considering the the nature of the owners and their longstanding grievances. I don't recollect any gross or disgusting horror-type screens. The art is workmanlike and attractive.

Be careful with the hint system because it will flat out tell you what to do next instead of pointing. If I need a hint in a game that uses a pointer, instead of making notes of locations I usually back up to a neutral crossroads then get a directional pointer. I had forgotten that doesn't work with this game.

Mystic Legacy is an SE; however, I discovered the last time I played small morphing lions and griffins which disappear in a discrete puff of aristocratic smoke when clicked. An understated banner announces them on only the first, in my case admittedly desperate, click when I couldn't figure out what to do next. From then on only a small irregular circle of smoke interrupts forward momentum. The start screen lists a bonus game on the lower left that can't be accessed unless the lions, many of which seem to be heraldic rampant, are found first. I investigated the mini game which appears to be simply a standalone puzzle. I didn't finish it.

The play is more adventure game than not. One irritating HOPA (and adventure game) structural feature left me sputtering when I refused to use a perfectly good boat hook that could have snagged a crucial to the story object from high in a tree. There are probably a few more instances when I thought (using the strange meld of first and second person if the game is first person or first, second, and third person if the game is third person that is integral to adventure games) something on the order of, "Well, if you hadn't tossed out your toothpick, I could use it now." On the upside, you get to reuse your razor, which shows consideration of game design.

As casual and also adventure plot lines go, this one is well told, so I have tried not to spoil the fun and deliberately have obscured some of the characterizations.

The lead credit goes to Valeriy Rhadzhabov (I think I spelled that right). I hope to see more games from him.

Last edited by 8dognight; 06/23/18 10:17 AM.
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: 8dognight] #1151618
05/20/18 01:22 PM
05/20/18 01:22 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 29,138
United Kingdom
Mad Offline
Sonic Boomer
Mad  Offline
Sonic Boomer

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 29,138
United Kingdom
I'm playing through the Cadenza series and right now am with "The Kiss of Death" tale.

I like the style of the hidden object scenes and don't find them drastically difficult - and I like the way the stories are gradually unfolded to the player.

Also, nice graphics and nice music.

In fact - for me - altogether NICE thumbsup


Time : The Most Precious Commodity
Re: Your Favorite Casual Games - Reviews and Recommendations [Re: Marian] #1151656
05/20/18 06:00 PM
05/20/18 06:00 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 39,632
southeast USA
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Jenny100  Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 39,632
southeast USA

World Mosaics

(the first and best of the series)

These type of puzzles have been called Conceptis, Griddlers, Nonograms, Picross, and sometimes Mosaics, though "Mosaics" can also refer to a completely different type of puzzle. For purposes of this review, I'll call them nonograms.

The first time I came across a nonogram was when playing Sherlock Holmes: Mystery of the Mummy. I'd never seen that type of puzzle before, wasn't really sure of the instructions, and ended up skipping it. In my defense, the nonogram in Mystery of the Mummy was timed, and who wants to have to figure out the instructions and strategy for an unfamiliar puzzle type while they're being timed? Certainly not me.

But it looked like it might be a fun puzzle, and I remembered it. Years after playing Mystery of the Mummy I finally found a game with a collection of nonograms -- World Mosaics. Back when I bought it in 2008, it may have been the only one. World Mosaics 2 was not released until 2010.

World Mosaics started with a tutorial on a 5x5 grid. As a beginner who'd been scared off of the larger nonogram in Mystery of the Mummy, I thought the tutorial was very good. On replays, I wish it was skippable. You start with easy 5x5 puzzles, but move on to 10x10, 15x15, 20x20, and eventually 25x25 puzzles.

There's a story of sorts, where you're supposedly visiting exotic locations like ancient Greece and Japan, going back in time and so forth. Each set of puzzles is supposed to take place in one of these locations, and has that location as a background.

There are several games in the World Mosaics series, but the first one is the only one I occasionally replay. I tried the 8th one, but the annoying "special" effects prevented me from buying it. More recently I've been enjoying the Fantasy Mosaics series, which is up to #28 so they seem to be popular.

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