The House of 1000 Doors Returns
As usual with Collector’s Edition titles, a number of bonus items are provided along with the main game of Serpent Flame. Some of the bonus items are available straight away, such as the integrated Strategy Guide plus various wallpapers and concept art, while others, as in the case of cut scenes, mini games and puzzles, can only be access once they have been tackled in the game. There is also a bonus chapter that can be access once the main game has been completed.
Adjustments can be made to the volume levels for music, sound effects and ambient audio plus the screen resolution and whether to play in full screen and wide screen mode. You have the choice of playing in Casual or Expert difficulty level. The former is twice as quick when recharging the Hint feature and uses sparkles to highlight interactive areas.
In this game you reprise the role of Kate Reed, a paranormal investigator, while several other characters from the previous titles also make a re-appearance. Following an opening animated introductory sequence showing large snake-like monsters emerging from the earth and causing world-wide death and destruction, you awake to find yourself in a room that is floating in the air.
Once you have made your escape from this variation on the classic locked door situation, you are in the house that has the ability to appear in different locations and is the one place that is safe from the menace of the snakes. You have been brought to the house by a mysterious stranger who immediately collapses. It does not take long for you to discover that you are the only person with the ability to save the world from the invasion of snake monsters.
Your full screen view of the various well draw locations is overlaid across the bottom of the screen with the tools that are available to you. Taking up a central position is the scrollable inventory that remains hidden until it is bought into play by a mouse click. To the left of the inventory is your journal which records all your discoveries and progress plus there is access to the game’s menu. Residing in the lower right corner is the rechargeable Hint feature (30 seconds in Casual and one minute to recharge in Expert mode), the integrated Strategy Guide and a map that indicates your current location and other places where tasks are waiting to be completed. This is the type of map that can save you a great deal of time as it will instantly transport you to any previously visited location.
You can also take advantage of a mouse cursor which changes shapes to indicate when certain actions are possible. You will have visual confirmation when you can pick up an item, examine an object or interact with another character (with a real voice) or part of a scene. Arrow will point towards direction in which you can move to another scene.
As with the previous titles in this series, Serpent Flame contains 40 Beyond Objects. These objects appear in different scenes and have the ability to change shape without warning. While you should collect these items when possible, they are not added to the inventory.
Serpent Flame features two types of Hidden Object game play. The one that I tend to find easier is when locating the 15 objects listed below the scene. If an object in the list is coloured red then an additional action will be required before the item can be selected. This task might involve joining two pieces together or simply moving another object out of the way so that you can get at what you need. The second type of Hidden Object game play requires you to replace various items displayed at the bottom of the screen in the current scene. While you are informed as to the name of the object, it is not always clear as to the correct position within the scene and can be frustrating.
From time to time you will need to complete a mini game in order to make progress. There are 20 of these mini games which you can replay from the game’s title screen once you have completed them in the main game. In most cases these mini games fit in with the game environment and are reasonably challenging.
Generally when you have a conversation with another character this will take the form of a cut scene. Real voices are used for the dialogue which is also printed on screen. You get a mixture of voices with some more realistic than others. Sometimes the dialogue and delivery is a little stilted and this is the only real weakness of the game.
Focus Multimedia has priced this excellent game at £10.20. System requirements call for 1.6GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 858MB of hard disk space running Windows XP and later.
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