Friday, July 17, 2009

Two kids on an adventure! - a review of Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold

Today, I review one of my favorite casual games: Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold!

What I liked

  • The high quality art and graphics
  • The youthfully adventurous story
  • Puzzles offer a break from finding stuff
  • The interface
  • Hint system

What I didn't like

  • Some objects are hidden in the shadows and very hard to spot


Quick Plot

Nelly and her little brother Tommy set out to discover a secret family treasure!


Highlights

The first thing you'll notice when you play a hidden objects game from Artogon is the high quality. The hidden objects scenes have smooth animations, atmospheric lighting, and wonderfully modeled scenery. The music and sound effects, while not great, get the job done adequately. After each scene, you see the characters pop up for conversation (text boxes, not voiceover), and the character art is very good. The same is true of the
other characters you'll meet along the way.

One thing I like in Artogon's hidden objects games is the animated sequences which run after every few scenes. Essentially, the game introduces the next part of the story by showing a scrolling letterboxed view of the coming scene while the characters dialogue. These animations are beautiful to look at, and they give you the option to skip it if you so desire.

Now, you won't always be finding hidden stuff. You'll also face a number of puzzles (which are fun but never too difficult) and some procedural tasks. For instance, in one scene you're required to prepare a meal following a cookbook. You have to refer to the cookbook and follow the steps in order to succeed. This type of thing has been boring in other games, but somehow the developer made it fun in this game, partly due to the fact that the graphics and animations are just so enjoyable to watch as you work.



There are couple more things to note. First, the hint system is the refillable kind, so you don't need to worry about running out of hints. There is also no time pressure and no penalty for clicking on the wrong things. The whole mood of the game is relaxed and low-pressure. Second, Artogon's user interface is my favorite for this type of game. You'll mouse around until you find something clickable. When you click it, a ring pops up showing you small versions of the items you need to find. As you find the items, you drop them on the ring. Once you have found each item, you get something new to help you. You'll complete a few of these object sets per scene.

Let me just warn you that you might want to play in a dark room because if you have screen glare at all, some objects might be really hard to locate. Sometimes I felt that the developer took cheap shots by hiding objects in the dark shadowy recesses of a scene, making them nigh impossible to see. Still, that guilt-free hint button was able to save me from those struggles.


Suitable for the family?

This is a game that I played all the way through with two of my little kids. The only thing I wondered about was whether or not they would be scared of (spoiler below, highlight text to read):

the ghost of a young woman who shows up to talk to you at various parts of the adventure. She is non-threatening, but she does look white and wispy. I just happily told my kids that it was a ghost and that ghosts aren't real. The ghost never seemed to bother them.


So, I'd say this is as good as it gets for families. I found nothing offensive or disturbing. I will also say that one of the themes in the game is piracy. The game highlights the romantic side of piracy (treasure, yar!), but fails to mention the debased moral nature of historical pirates.

Still, having played Ravenhearst and its sequel (see my review), this game is very welcome as a family game.


The family man's final ruling

I look forward to going back to play this one again someday. The whole package was a delight, and I was able to get my kids to contribute to the searching process. It seemed that my kids gravitated to this one because the main characters are children. I like how Treasure Seekers forces you to suspend your disbelief as you travel along with this young brother and sister on their fanciful quest.

You'll like the game if...

  • You like hidden objects games, especially cute family-friendly ones
  • You like treasure

You won't like the game if...

  • You don't like hidden objects games


My rating:

If you want to play Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold, click below:

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