Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mirrors, mirrors on the walls - a review of Princes Isabella: A Witch's Curse

In recent months, beginning with Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, we have seen a handful of casual adventure games hit the market. Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse is one of the pioneers in this new genre of games. So how does it do? Read on to find out!

What I liked

  • Lovely graphics
  • Very nice music
  • Nice combo of adventure, hidden objects, and puzzles
  • Fairy companion
  • Easy to figure out what to do

What I didn't like

  • Too easy?



Quick Plot

Restore the cursed kingdom to its former glory, save all your friends and family by reconstructing their mirrors, and deal with whatever villain is behind the curse!


Mechanics

Adventure: The interface and mechanics of the game are predominantly characteristic of point-and-click adventure games. You walk from room to room and do things in each room of the castle.

Puzzles: You'll face a wide variety of puzzles.


Hidden Objects: Hidden object scenes are a common task you'll encounter. These give you the inventory items you'll use during your adventure.




Highlights

Graphics: The visuals in this game are beautiful. I would have liked more animations in the scenery, such as moving water, but overall, the environments are pleasing to the eye. The character art is pretty good too.

Music: One of my favorite parts of the game was the music. I didn't see who composed it, but whoever it was did a great job. From orchestra to medieval instruments, the score contributed a nice backdrop for the journey. I especially liked the jingles that played each time I solved a puzzle or removed a curse from a room. Expect to keep the music on for this game.

Fairy: A small fairy floats in the upper corner of the screen talking to you every so often, and offering abilities that help you with your tasks. For instance, she can use her rock ability to smash vases, or her water ability to water flowers. She also has hints for those times when you find yourself stumped.


Variety: I liked that this game had so many different types of puzzles. There's always something new to solve. I'm burnt out on hidden object games, but I can stomach a little bit of it when it's thrown into an adventure game like this. There is also marble popping, tile flipping, tile swapping, puzzle piecing, and many other types of brain-teasing tasks.

Issues

Too easy: The game felt a little short, but I don't think it's because the developers skimped on story or player objectives. Rather, I think it's because the puzzles are just not very challenging. Most of them can be solved in seconds. For the seasoned adventure gamer, this will be frustrating, but for people who see casual games as nothing more than a pleasant diversion, these puzzles might hit the spot.

Nevertheless, I will mention that this simplicity was welcome when it came to the hidden object scenes. The objects were relatively easy to find, so I felt like they didn't stall my progress. I much prefer this to the sort of terribly challenging hidden object scenes found in Luxor Adventures. *shudder*

So, you'll find that the game sails along at a steady clip, which is nice in principle, but you might find the puzzles less than satisfying. Don't expect a brain-burner.





Suitable for the family?

Wife: My wife loves these puzzle adventure games, so she's been having great fun with this one.

Kids: The kids came over to watch from time to time, but there isn't a whole lot here to interest them. There are some ghosts in the game, which might spook some kids out. The ghosts are just wispy, glowing forms floating around, and you do get rid of them. My kids watched the ghosts and didn't seem to be bothered. Other than that, I can't remember anything scary, disturbing, or thematically inappropriate.



The family man's final ruling

If you thought Return to Ravenhearst or Dire Grove were too difficult, this game is probably just right for you. On the other hand, if you like challenging puzzles in your adventure games, this game probably won't be very stimulating for your mental processor.

In my opinion, this game is a fun romp with enough variety to keep it interesting from start to finish. I wouldn't mind playing it again some day, just for kicks. There is nothing tedious or frustrating (except the fact that you can't ever look at the castle map for more than a few seconds at a time). This game was well-designed in every respect, and I think you'll find it to be worth your money.



You'll like the game if...

  • You like hidden object scenes
  • You like adventure games with inventory items and puzzles
  • You like high production quality in your casual games
  • You like games involving castles and fairies

You won't like the game if...

  • You only like adventure games with complex and challenging puzzles
  • You want a long, involved story


My rating:

If you want to play Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse, click below:

2 comments:

  1. thanks for the review! One tip--you were mentioning how the map only showed for a few seconds at a time--I discovered if you click on the diary/journal there is a tab that shows a map of the castle with rooms you have explored and either a red dot or a green dot. The red dot means the room has puzzles that need to be completed, while the green dot means the opposite. You can click on rooms on this map and the game will instantly warp you to whichever room you selected, saving you all that walking around and backtracking.

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  2. Great tip! Thanks for sharing, crobrun!

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