Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD is another hauntingly beautiful Hidden Object Adventure developed by Artifex Mundi, one of my favorite game developers. Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD is a dark journey into the mind of Alice Dahl, a woman trapped in a depressing and oppressive job that she yearns to escape, but she just can't overcome the fear of leaving and venturing into the unknown to follow her dreams.
The graphics are not only beautiful to look at, but they are both intriguing and disturbing. As Alice traverses the strange world she seems to find herself in, she'll meet a number of interesting characters, some in need of her help, some there to aid her in her escape of this place, and one in particular that just seems to want to terrorize her with fear - the Shadow.
Most of the time, the background music is very foreboding and intense, conveying just the right amount of distress and pressure. However, there are times when it changes as Alice visits the different areas in her quest to escape this waking nightmare. She finds herself in enchanted areas that are inhabited by amazing creatures, including tree-people, talking pumpkins and even dangerous dragons. All of the voicework is a bit over the top, but it works well for the game.
In Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD, you'll begin with Alice hurrying to attend a last-minute client meeting for her boss, only to wreck her car and awaken in a strange hospital. As she struggles to escape, she finds herself plagued by a menacing shadow, who is constantly intimidating and threatening her, which only makes her need to escape that much more intense. In this strange world, she finds that a glowing red venous line seems to extend from her body to lead her to where she needs to go, so follow the line you must.
Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD Trailer
As you progress through the different areas, you'll encounter puzzles and mini-games, such as pictures whose pieces need to be rotated to form the correct image, puzzles where you must match several dolls by swapping their heads to match styles and expressions, animated pictures that need to have certain pieces changed in order to kick-start the animation, rotation puzzles and so on. I found all of the puzzles to be interesting and unique enough, if only in design and aesthetics if not execution. Dolls are a major theme throughout the game, as Alice, herself, feels as though she is just a puppet for her boss, and let me tell you, finding random dolls all around is pretty creepy - especially since sometimes it's just doll parts. You'll also encounter Hidden Object Scenes where you'll have a list of items to locate within the scene. Some will be a different color in the list and these will require extra steps, such as uncovering them or finding them in a drawer, or putting two objects together to form the needed object. You'll also need to be on the lookout for items in the environment which will aid you in your escape.
As Alice traverses these strange areas, she keeps finding things that relate to her own life, such as her wallet and pictures of her family. Can she overcome her fears to escape this nightmare and follow her true dreams or will she forever be stuck in her miserable dead-end job? Play Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD to find out.
There are three difficulty levels in Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD: Casual, Advanced and Expert. In Casual, your Hint and Skip (for mini-games) buttons will recharge very quickly; so quickly, in fact, that you hardly have to wait any time to be able to use them again. Any Active Zones (things where items are present that you need or actions are required) will glimmer to get your attention and available Hidden Object Scenes will sparkle. If you find yourself stuck, you can always check the map and available actions are clearly marked, so you can just tap to immediately go to the area where you are needed. You don't get the map immediately, though. Also, there is no mis-tap penalty while in Hidden Object Scenes.
When playing in Advanced Mode, your Hint and Skip buttons won't recharge as fast, but they still recharge relatively quickly. You'll be on your own for Active Zones, because they won't glimmer, but Hidden Object Scenes will still sparkle. Your map will still show available actions, but you'll be given a small penalty for mis-taps in Hidden Object Scenes.
Lastly, if you choose to play in Expert Mode, you'll be in for a much harder time. Your Hint and Skip buttons will recharge quite slowly and nothing is indicated for you, whether by glimmer or sparkle or even being on the map. There is also a penalty system in place for mis-taps, so good luck!
Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD had one issue in it and it's a really annoying one, but not a game killer, although you might think so if you are playing and it happens. The game will lock up whenever you come back to playing after a time. Your iPad will be completely locked up and will show the last place you were within the game for a good 10-12 seconds before the G5 page comes up that is standard in all G5 games, asking you to "Play Now!" Then you click that and it goes back into the game on the Pause menu which may sometimes take a second or two to recognize you want to continue the game. At one point, when the G5 Play Now! page came up, it was blank and had only "Game Name" and "Play Now!" show up, so I thought my game had crashed and possibly lost my progress, but it was only a temporary glitch. Hopefully, a patch will fix this soon, but as long as you are aware of it and don't freak out, a little patience will see you through.
Aside from that, tapping and swiping - plus your wits - are all you need to get through Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD. There are also several Achievements you can get, such as not using Skips on mini-games or completing a Hidden Object Scene in less than a minute, and even some that you acquire just by working your way through the game. I'm not much of an Achievement hound, but they are there if you are signed up with the Game Center and want some bragging rights.
Overall, I loved Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD. It's dark, weird and interesting and you'll meet some peculiar but fantastical creatures along the way. I do love it when Artifex Mundi explores the psyche and brings us novel and fun games, and Mind Snares: Alice's Journey HD is just another to add to their list of achievements. Highly recommended (especially if they patch the lockup issue).