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Isla Dorada - Episode 1: The Sands of Ephranis HD

Score: 92%
ESRB: 4+
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: Fun Forge Digital
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle (Hidden Object)/ Puzzle/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Isla Dorada – Episode 1: The Sands of Ephranis HD is a delightful game with well done graphics. Based on a board game, you will explore a brightly colored island village as exotic tunes play in the background. The music has a very "ancient" feel to it, quite mysterious yet sometimes playful or spooky, depending on the situation. Sometimes, it even has an action movie vibe to it, think Indiana Jones. The voicework is also quite good. The main character you’ll be playing, Jessica Pandora, is a treasure hunter and sounds very self-assured, at least until she finds herself stuck on the mysterious island of Isla Dorada. The villagers and spirits you will encounter all sound perfect for their roles and I never once winced at the voice acting. In fact, I really enjoyed it. Ambient sounds stay in the background as they should, but work to immerse you into the feel of the island.

I love the graphics - they are very reminiscent of the newer Broken Sword games or the Runaway adventure series. The animations are lighthearted and cute, with little things buzzing around in the background. Yet, at times, the areas can seem a bit menacing. But even when spirits and locals are threatening you, Isla Dorada remains cute and pleasant.


In Isla Dorada – Episode 1: The Sands of Ephranis HD, you play as Jessica Pandora, a treasure hunter who has been searching for a mythical treasure trove for some 10 years, but when she finally finds the site, she is then sucked into a mystery that she will have to unravel if she has any hope of escaping the tropical island of Isla Dorada.

Isla Dorada – Episode 1: The Sands of Ephranis HD is straight up hidden object, with just a dash of puzzles and adventuring thrown in, which is funny, since I compared it to Broken Sword and Runaway, both popular adventure series. However, Isla Dorada merely has the same playful feel in the story and graphics as these two series. For the most part, you’ll find yourself trying to obtain pieces of a golden mask that has broken apart. You’ll move throughout a village and delve into tombs and such, all the while completing hidden object scenes in the hopes of obtaining either objects that will help you to progress the storyline or pieces of the golden mask that you will be rewarded with upon completing the hidden object scene.


Isla Dorada – Episode 1: The Sands of Ephranis HD has a very even difficulty level, never really ramping up, just maintaining the same pace through and through. You'll get through the adventure pretty quickly, but since this is an episodic game, that works just fine. If you ever get stuck, you've got the Hint and Skip feature. Hint will direct you to an object you are looking for, while Skip will get you past a puzzle, if you are stuck. I never found the puzzles to be so difficult as to need the Skip, however. They had just the right amount of challenge to them.

You've also got your trusty golden mask icon at the bottom right of your HUD. When you are wandering through the village, it will start glowing and moving about if you come close to an area where you need further exploration. These areas might not be obvious or sparkling, but if you look sharp, you'll see a tiny piece of the mask peeking out of somewhere or something. When you click in that area and complete that hidden object scene, you'll obtain another piece of the mask.

Game Mechanics:

Isla Dorada – Episode 1: The Sands of Ephranis HD uses the basic gestures of swiping, tapping and pinch to zoom. As I mentioned earlier, the golden mask will react when you are near a hidden object scene that will net you another piece of the mask. These hidden object scenes look visually different from others as you are entering the World of Whispers. Everything is in shades of blue or grey, which makes it a bit harder to find objects, especially "colorful" ones. However, your prize is another piece of the mask, which takes you one step closer to completing the episode.

You will pick up some objects that cause a message to pop up saying that the item may be useful later on. These items will invariably help you get past environmental puzzles that will usually have green floating question marks around them, instead of the usual sparkles. You may have to combine items to get what you need, sometimes several times over, to get into these areas.

The puzzles you encounter will include things like pictures that need to be put back together again or tapping against a door in the correct order. They are pretty standard, but fun. You'll also earn Achievements along the way, whether they are for finding a certain number of items quickly or not skipping a puzzle, etc.

If you enjoy hidden object games, don't hesitate to snap up Isla Dorada – Episode 1: The Sands of Ephranis HD. It's lots of fun and I am really looking forward to the next installment and helping Jessica find her way off the island.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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