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Mystery of the Opera HD

Score: 70%
ESRB: 12+
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: Vartis Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Puzzle (Hidden Object)

Graphics & Sound:

Mystery of the Opera HD has nice graphics and you will visit a wide variety of rooms and locations while playing the game. Youíll start off at the opera, of course, where your bride to be has been kidnapped. If you are to rescue her, you will have to search the opera house and all of its stages and back areas for clues, break into the police station, and even travel around the city and beneath it in the sewers to find your beloved. You will not only pick up items from the environment, but youíll also encounter Hidden Object scenes filled with items to locate. For the most part, things look as they should and are the appropriate size and such, but I didnít recognize some of the items by their names in the Hidden Object scenes. More on the Hidden Object scenes in the Gameplay section, though.

The sound effects worked well for the scenes and the background music was pleasant, but not overpowering or something you will remember. It did the job and that was about it. There is a nice tinkling sound when you press the Hint button, which looks like the mask used to denote acting. It frowns when you have used the hint and slowly smiles over the short time that it takes to regenerate. Likewise, the Skip button for puzzles is a harp that sparkles when you can use the Skip button. There are no voiceovers in Mystery of the Opera HD, although you will encounter some fairly expressive characters. Black magic is afoot at the opera house and several of the staff members have been placed under a spell. Their faces will range from crazily angry, to confused, to petrified.


Gameplay:

Mystery of the Opera HD has you playing as Edwin, a young man who watches his beloved fiancťe perform as the newly christened diva at her opera house. Right before his eyes, she is kidnapped by a mysterious caped figure and it is up to you to locate her as there seems to be a grand cover-up in place. You will move throughout the different areas of the opera house, picking up items to help you access other areas and also coming across sparkling Hidden Object scenes and environmental puzzles as well.

Some of the first items I found in the environment were called morphing items where they first appear to be one thing, but then fade into another object. I have seen this in previous games, but Mystery of the Opera HD only used the morphing items in the very beginning and then never again, which seemed odd. During the Hidden Object scenes, one item would always stand out in the list because it was listed in blue and that is because finding that item required some extra effort on the part of the player, or at least putting two different pieces together to form the needed item. Once you cleared that list, a statement would pop up telling you about one additional item you needed to locate within the scene and that item was typically the one you needed in order to proceed somewhere. Oftentimes, finding this object involved an action, such as patching a broken axe up with rope (I do not think this would hold together very well) or popping the cork off of a bottle. Once you obtained the needed object, it would go into your inventory, as many of the other objects you would pick up along the way did. The bad thing is that there were no names to these objects, not even by hovering your finger over them, so there were times when I had no idea what the object was or what I had to do with it. Likewise, the opera house sprawled out a bit and if I played one day and then went back to it the next, Iíd forget what rooms were where and find myself turned around. Hereís where the Hint button came into play for me a lot. Good thing it has a pleasant little sound, since I heard it quite often.

While you also had a diary with generic entries about what was going on, it didnít necessarily guide you as to what you needed to do in the immediate future. That was my main problem with Mystery of the Opera HD - that I never really felt like I knew exactly what I needed to do next and where I needed to go. I had all this stuff in my inventory and a generic plan to rescue the girlfriend, but no true direction. It just felt a bit aimless.


Difficulty:

The main difficulty in Mystery of the Opera HD was knowing what you needed to do next. As I stated earlier, the diary provided some hints and would even sparkle at times indicating something new and important had been updated, but it never seemed to match up to what the Hint button was telling you, so it was more frustrating than anything else.

As far as the puzzles went, there were a number of the Adventure game standards in there such as rearranging a picture from torn fragments, swapping tiles around, slide puzzles and such. Some puzzles required the use of an amulet that you will gather portions of as you play the game and sometimes, it just wasnít obvious what you needed to do, while other times, it was.


Game Mechanics:

Mystery of the Opera HD tries to do a lot of creative things, it just seems a bit scattered in its attempts. Itís like they kept trying new things, but didnít stick with them. Throughout your travels, you will pick up an amulet and parts that fit inside of it that grant you special powers, like seeing through walls and shrinking objects so that you can carry them around easier. You will use these powers on occasion, but not often. As you go through the opera house and the surrounding town, you will encounter certain places where magic is afoot and you'll see a glowing blue rune on the wall to indicate the area is possessed by black magic. To break the curse over the area and sometimes even over a person in that area, you will need to gather the objects which are missing from that area. Again, you won't have any direction as to what objects are necessarily needed. Rather, you'll just have to try things out from your inventory. If the items in the inventory were labeled, it might be easier and make more sense, but alas no.

I must mention one particular puzzle that I truly enjoyed, even though I found most of the puzzles to be either not particularly fun or somewhat annoying. This puzzle had you collecting different buckets of colored paints and once you had all four of the primary colors, you were presented with an outlined picture. Your job was to paint each portion of the picture with a different color, never touching one color to itself. While at times, the tapping gesture could force you to have to redo a few of the colors, overall it was a fun and different puzzle type and I liked it.

Aside from puzzles, you were often required to use swiping gestures to accomplish your goals. For instance, if you had acquired a wrench and encountered a pipe that needed to be fixed, you'd have to move your finger to represent a pipe being rotated. It was something innovative that Vartis used to set Mystery of the Opera HD apart from the masses of Hidden Object Adventure games out there.

Mystery of the Opera HD tries really hard to do a lot of things to make it stand out, but because of the constant fetch quests and the lack of direction, I just didn't really enjoy the journey. The art style was nice and the background music and sound effects worked well, but I just didn't have much fun playing the game and I found it laborious. This is not really what you want in a game. There are also some translation issues in the text both within the journal and between characters, so better attention should be paid to that in the future.

The ending of Mystery of the Opera HD seems to be set up for a sequel, but Vartis Games will need to make some changes if they want a sequel to succeed. Closer attention to translation, good labeling of the inventory, and a little more direction in your missions would go a long way into making the sequel a much better experience for gamers.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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