The Palm of Zoroaster
For those who have not played the first game in this series, I should explain that the House of 1000 Doors is a magical building that keeps reappearing in different locations before vanishing after a short period. As to the actual number of doors within this house, the building has never remained long enough in one location for an exact count to be made, suffice to say the house does have many more doors than any other house you will come across and the 1000 designation does sound very impressive. By the way some of the doors do lead you into other dimensions.
As with the earlier title, The Palm of Zoroaster has been released in Collector’s Edition format. A bonus chapter becomes available once the main game has been completed and you get a Strategy Guide which can be accessed at any time you consider you need help to make progress in the game. Step by step instructions and screen grabs are provided in this guide.
In common with other games of this type, you have a choice of playing the game in either Casual or Expert mode. With the former you get a faster recharge of the Hint feature and sparkles to identify interactive areas. There is also an optional introductory tutorial that points out some of the games features such as a cursor that changes shape to indicate when certain actions are possible.
Your role in this follow up title is the same as the first offering. You don the mantel of Kate Reed, a writer with a strong bias towards all matters concerning the supernatural. The game opens as you are on your way by car to the latest location of the House of 1000 Doors following a summons from Gabriel, a mysterious figure who appears to be in charge of the house. Sudden outbreaks of fire cause your car to crash when you near the house and so this Hidden Object Adventure game begins.
Five.bn, who developed the game, has continued with the mix of adventure game play mixed with Hidden Object searching and puzzle solving. When characters speak you get to hear their voices with their dialogue also appearing in text format across the bottom of the screen. You can skip passed these conversational interludes by clicking on the Skip option which appears in the top right corner of the screen. The same method can be used to cut short the various cut-scenes featuring a fireball that link together the various locations making up this game.
When in Adventure mode the bottom of the screen will hold tools that are available to you. In the left corner is your journal which records your progress and any important information. You can flip through its pages to search for clues that might help you make further progress in the game. Moving over to the opposite corner you will find the rechargeable Hint feature which sits next to a map that provides the facility to jump to any previously visited location without needing to pass through any connecting scenes. The map feature helps save a great deal of time. The right corner is also the location of the Strategy Guide. The game’s inventory, which can be concealed when not needed, takes up the space between the two corners. It will hold the items you find and those that you receive for completing Hidden Object scenes.
Full screen mode is also used when Hidden Object scenes are displayed. A list of the objects to be located is arranged across the bottom of the screen. As there is not enough room to list all the required objects initially, the first few found will be replaced by others. In some cases listed objects will be coloured red. This indicates that some type of action will be required before the object becomes available for collection. For example you might need to open a drawer, move an obstruction or combine items. You will receive one of the located objects as a reward for completing the scene.
The game also contains 46 Beyond objects. A Beyond object is one that can change shape from time to time. When your mouse cursor touches a Beyond object it will change to a grasping hand allowing you to add the Beyond object to your collection.
Dotted around the 100 locations found in this game are 28 mini-games or puzzles. While varying in type and visually impressive, I was slightly disappointed with this aspect of the game especially in the early stages. I felt the mini-games were not quite challenging enough with some requiring little more than trial and error to solve. However the difficulty level did become more challenging towards the end of the game.
Overall this is a good follow-up title. The various scenes are well drawn with appealing animation. I really appreciated the map feature. The voice actors sound as if they are playing a part rather than just reading a script. My only criticism is regards the early mini-games which could have been more challenging.
As usual with Alawar games, you can download a 60-minute trial version before paying the $9.95 to remove this restriction. System requirements call for a 1.5GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 256MB video card, 530MB of hard disk space and support for DirectX 9.0 running Windows XP and later.
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