Twisted Lands Shadow Town 

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Having played and reviewed numerous computer based games, especially those categorised as "Casual", I sometime wonder how the plot or storyline behind the game came about. Maybe you have had similar thoughts.

During one particular wild flight of fancy, I imagined that maybe the original concept for a game was a bit like a recipe where you bring together certain ingredients to produce a dish fit for everybody.  For example you could start with the basic husband and wife combination as they embark on a boating trip.  Then throw in a shipwreck and an uncharted island as a side dish.  Next you could have the wife disappear before adding a dash of a ghostly element to the mixture.  For seasoning and game play you could toss in a point and click adventure flavour with some hidden object sessions and various puzzle solving.  The result could well be Twisted Lands Shadow Town.

So just what is involved in this Alawar game that has been released in Collection Edition format?  As mentioned the game centres around a husband and wife team (Mark and Angel) with Angel going missing and Mark (that’s your role) setting out to explore the uncharted island in an effort to find her.  The game’s opening sequence takes the form of a brief tutorial as you are introduced to the two main characters and the style of game play.  Your cursor changes shape to indicate when possible actions, such as use, move and examine, are called for and sparkling areas that encourage you to look further in order to solve puzzles and search for hidden objects.

Directional arrows appear to show possible routes that can be taken to move from scene to scene.  From time to time you will collect items that are automatically transferred to an inventory that is available for access at the bottom of the screen.  You will also be rewarded with an inventory item for every hidden object scene that is completed.  As is usual, these inventory items will be required to help complete tasks at various points during the game.

A Journal is located in the lower left corner of the screen.  This will be automatically added to as you make progress.  It will contain details of your actions, thoughts and other information.  In the opposite lower corner is a rechargeable Hint feature.  It can be used to provide possible clues and point you in the appropriate direction for your next move.  When used for directional help it will retain its power but for other instances, such as locating a hidden object, it will require time to recharge itself.

As Mark explores the island he will come across numerous objects that can only be access when the necessary tool is available.  This can often cause you to backtrack to a previous location to collect the designated item (maybe a key, axe or lighter).  Mark will also encounter various ghostly apparitions that will appear when entering certain locations and then disappear without any explanation.

At an early point in the game, a cave will be discovered and this will lead to an intricately decorated door.  Around the frame of the door and several cavities which need to be filled with snake statues that can be found during the exploration of the island.  These snake statues can be placed into the cavities any time either singly or in groups.

When engaging in the hidden object scenes, you will need to find items listed across the bottom of the screen.  As each item is found, its entry will be removed from the list.  These hidden object scenes do contain some amusing animations.  Indiscriminate clicking will result in a brief screen freezing as a mist appears and then fades away to give you back control.

Twisted Lands Shadow Town is chapter based with five chapters to be completed.  At this point you will gain access to an additional bonus chapter.  Earlier I mentioned that Alawar had released this game as the Collector’s version.  In order to qualify for Collector’s status, Alawar have included a Walk-through module.  You can access this feature at any time and gain access to step-by-step instructions to complete each stage of the game.

The graphics in Twisted Lands Shadow Town are excellent while the background music is dramatic and does help add to the game’s atmosphere.  This is a challenging game that should provide many hours of game play.  Twisted Lands Shadow Town is expected to be the first offering in a new saga and I look forward to discovering how the next title in the series will perform.

The game’s minimum specifications call for a 600MHz processor with 64MB of RAM, 420MB of hard disk space and support for DirectX 9.0 running Windows XP and later.  Pricing has been set at $6.99.

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OverallAlawar<Twisted Lands Shadow Town rated 84 out of 100

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